Puckering is the nemesis of machine embroiderers far and wide.

The opposite of fabric stretching and warping that can happen doing embroidery on a machine like the Janome MB-7, puckering causes the fabric to draw in around the stitches and create a bumpy, crimped effect that is equally unattractive.

As with stretching and warping, there is no one way to remedy puckering, so you need to know a thing or two about a thing or two to remedy it or try to prevent it from the start.

If you experience a lot of puckering with the designs you embroider on your Janome embroidery machine, these tips will hopefully help!

Why Does Puckering Happen?

Puckering happens when your fabric moves while it’s being embroidered.

Ideally, fabric that is correctly stabilized and hooped will not move when the needle punches through it to make a stitch.

When it does move either by stretching or distorting when the needle punches in or following the needle back up as it comes out, it loosens enough that the continued stitching draws in that loose fabric causing gathered wrinkles.

Which Fabrics Are Most Likely to Pucker?

Thankfully, not all fabrics are prone to puckering during stitching on your Janome embroidery machine and most sturdier woven fabrics not at much risk.

Those that are prone to puckering due to sliding or moving within the hoop during stitching include:

  • Slippery Fabrics - Hard to hold secure in the hoop and on the stabilizer.
  • Stretchy Fabrics - Knits and other stretchy fabrics that stretch too much in the hoop, leaving puckering around the design once the fabric tightens back up when it’s removed from the hoop.
  • Lightweight or Flimsy Fabrics - Lightweight linens, broadcloths, and similar fabrics can bunch up during stitching, causing a puckering effect.

Beyond the qualities of the fabric itself allowing it to pucker easily, certain types of embroidery designs tend to pucker more on a machine like the Janome MB-7.

Monogramming and thin lettering designs pucker easily and some densely-stitched designs might also, especially when each is done on any of the above fabrics.

How Can Puckering Be Prevented?

When using these fabrics or stitching this type of design, it’s best to assume that you could get fabric movement that leads to puckering and remedy it before it happens:

  • Stabilizers - Choose a highly suitable stabilizer for the fabric you plan to stitch, then try it out on a sample piece to find a combination that will stitch up properly without puckering.
  • Spray Adhesive - Literally stick your fabric to the stabilizer for an even more secure base for preventing movement.
  • Thread Choice - If puckering might be an issue, use rayon thread which has minimal stretch and requires lower tensioning rather than polyester which is higher in both.
  • Use Underlay Stitching - Underlay stitching is another way to secure the fabric and the stabilizer as it will prevent fabric movement once you get to the details, yet be completely covered up by the final design.
  • Design Choice - Consider which designs are more likely to pucker on certain fabrics and either avoid them or take the extra steps necessary to prevent fabric stretch and movement during stitching.
  • Stitch Sequencing - Digitize so the stitching is done from a center point outward and avoid stitching toward the center of the design to keep moving any shifting fabric away from the design instead of drawing it in where it will pucker.

Prevent Embroidery Puckering with Good Planning

Like many other details about machine embroidery, you get top results from your Janome embroidery machine when you understand how different fabrics and threads behave as well as what you can do to counteract those behaviors.

Prevent puckering by carefully considering your design and where you want to put it, then plan out a good way to prevent that shifting for a stable design.

You’ll be much happier with your project by taking the extra time to troubleshoot ahead of time so your design will finish smooth and pucker-free!