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puckered seams
What causes them and how do I avoid them?
mrs quickly
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mrs quickly
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Wisconsin USA
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Date: 7/25/05 1:58 PM

I was reading a discussion about what everyone does to make their garments look more RTW or rather how they avoid that "home made" look. Someone mentioned puckered seams is a dead give away and that's exactly one of the things I have trouble with.

I've taken a close look at the items I've sewn and many have puckered seams. At first I thought it was my machine but I've since taken both my sewing maching and serger in for a cleaning & tune up and I'm still having a bit of trouble, though not as much as before. I always press as I go which often does the trick, but not always. Can someone tell me the most common causes for puckered seams and maybe I can trouble shoot? Is thread tension the main culprit? Is it too tight? I'm currently working with a rayon challis and the seams are awful. My last few projects were 100% cotton and the puckers ironed out but not this time. I think I read somewhere that holding your fabric taught helps but I'm afraid of stretching the fabric. Please help!



LRS

LRS
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Date: 7/25/05 2:15 PM

Yes, holding the fabric taut will help. It does stretch the fabric slightly - that's the point. When it goes back to its own shape, there's a tiny bit extra thread, so the thread isn't pulling.

The other key is to press every seam exactly as it's sewn - don't open the seam yet. Just press. Use the hottest iron the fabric can take and plenty of steam if you can. I'm not sure why this works, but it makes a big difference. Then, of course, you'll open the seam and iron it again. If it's got any heft to it, I hit it from both sides.

LRS

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Louise

Nata
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Nata
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Date: 7/25/05 6:45 PM

Another thing is winding your bobbin slowly. If you go too fast, tension from thread passing through the guides causes the thread to heat up and stretch. Thread will contract back again after you sewn the seam, hence the puckers.

And also, natural fubers make the world of difference. They are much easie to sew and press, and they hardly ever pucker.

You might try loosening thread tension on your machine, too. That might help a little.

------
Fabric bought in 2009: 30 yds
Fabrc sewn in 2009: 19 yds
Fabric stash: 145 yds

3 Garments IN and 6 Garments OUT

Elona
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Date: 7/25/05 7:01 PM

Here are some more tricks that may help:

Use a fine needle for fine fabrics. If you have a light but tightly-woven cotton shirting, for example, and it puckers, try a size 10 (or even an 8) needle.

For fine fabrics, you will want relatively more stitches per inch; for heavy fabrics, fewer.

For rayon and silk, I often have to switch to the narrowest zigzag--not so much that it's obviously a zigzag, but just enough so that the stitches are not perfectly lined up with each other.

On rare occasions, when working with lighweight silk, I have had to switch to machine embroidery thread. It is finer than regular sewing thread.

Finally, when you're starting a garment, it's helpful to make a few practice seams using some of these techniques.
-- Edited on 7/25/05 8:22 PM --

SewVeryTall
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Date: 7/26/05 3:41 AM

I want to add that taut sewing doesn't mean that you stretch the fabric. It means that you're helping the fabric to carry the thread through the machine.

It's not that you're holding the fabric taut before it goes under the needle, you're just guiding it to the needle. The "taut" comes after it passes under the presser foot and is sewn. Pulling on the fabric a little behind the presser foot can make a world of difference. The more lightweight the fabric, the more this is necessary.

An excellent example of this is stay-stitching. You're sewing on a single layer of fabric and there just isn't enough fabric weight, so it will pucker like crazy if you don't help by pulling the fabric right behind the presser foot.

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Ardis

the lefthanded daughter of a lefthanded mother

Laurie Lou
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Laurie Lou  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/31/13 1:56 PM

I'm having this problem with a nice polyester crepe that is not so nice to sew. I am dreading sewing the top stitching around the sleevelss armholes. Anyone else have another suggestion?

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Laurie Lou

solosmocker
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Date: 5/31/13 3:32 PM

Part of the issue is that it is synthetic. Combine that with maybe one or two of the other issues mentioned and it all adds up.

Try making up some samples before you go any further. I would give 100% cotton a shot. It works wonderfully with silk and may be the trick for this crepe. It doesn't stretch when winding on the bobbin like poly or blend threads.

Also, I am going to add a bit more to the pressing factor as I think that is what is usually the problem once tension has been ruled out. Iron as sewn (mentioned) Iron the seams open over a curved surface. Poly crepes can really have show through. Flip the garment to the right side and iron once again over a curve. Use a press cloth at all times. Again, do a sample or two to make sure the iron is the right temp. Let the fabric lay until cool. Don't move it while hot. I hope you get this solved and let us know how it all worked out.

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clt3
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Date: 6/1/13 8:21 AM

Also try a microtex needle.

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beauturbo
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In reply to Laurie Lou <<
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Date: 6/1/13 8:40 AM

If you got something with a chain stitch like a overlocker or a cover stitch machine, you could try that chain. If you sew chain side down on the bottom, I think it will look like a sewing machine stitch from the top part anyways. Advantages might be you can use your split differential feed there, to try to stretch out the fabric a bit, and get rid of puckers that way, might have a bit more give, and the two threads don't even have to meet in the middle of that crepe fabric anymore either then, and so not trying to be displacing any fabric while doing that and so might cause less puckering.

I was shopping the other day, and noticed that on some stuff. It was I think Max studio sleeveless dresses at Marshals. One was actually a knit but the other one a really spongey woven crepe. They actually had it chainstitch side on the outside as more decorative different color top stitching for trim on the neck and the sleeves and it looked nice.
-- Edited on 6/1/13 8:49 AM --

Laurie Lou
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Date: 6/4/13 1:31 PM

Thanks guys for your added tips. I reviewed a couple ideas here and will keep them in mind for future projects too. I don't know if solosmocker meant to use a cotton or silk as a binding/facing but I think that might be a good idea to try. In the end they turned out pretty good...I went very slow with my microtex needle, hand wound bobbin fo embroidery thread with a slight pull on the back of the fabric and the sides to flatten. That worked pretty decently with the added pressing at all stages of construction.

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Laurie Lou

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