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Why Does My Fabric Gathering When I Sew?

Sewing can be frustrating if you have fabric or seam puckering. There’s a good chance that you have noticed your fabric getting stuck in your thread or needle at one point or another during a sewing project.

After sewing, wrinkles can appear. You can fix the problem and prevent it from happening again by understanding the causes.

What Is Seam Puckering?

What Is Seam Puckering

This persistent problem can be very aggravating when making fine seams in knitted or woven fabrics.

Because the thread is an integral part of every seam, it is often blamed when there is seam pucker. However, other factors can contribute to seam pucker, including fabric structure, construction, and thread/needle sizes.

A combination of several causes can cause the majority of puckering. This bulletin post explains the various causes and provides solutions.

There Are Other Causes of Fabric Puckering

There Are Other Causes of Fabric Puckering

1. Thread Tension Too High

This is a common reason for stitch and seam puckering. It will result in less thread reaching the stitch if you adjust the tension settings incorrectly. As you stitch, the thread will stretch to compensate. This causes puckering and crumpling.

Visible bobbin thread or puckers on the top thread stitches are signs that your needle tension may be too tight. This could signify that your bobbin tension is incorrect, but it’s less common.

2. Friction Between Layers

The feed dog grips fabric during sewing to allow it to pass through the machine. Friction can build up between different layers of fabric. It may be between the lower layer and the feed dog or between the upper and lower layers of fabric.

This causes gathered/puckered seams by making the speed of the fabric and the sewing needle passes through it differently. The fabric layers also move at different speeds, which can cause friction. To reduce friction, you can re-sew or use a suitable presser to lower friction.

3. Uneven Pressure

You will notice that the lower fabric is subject to more pressure when you sew two fabrics together, especially if they have different weaves and weights. Wrinkling can be caused by the lower fabric being subject to less pressure.

4. Bobbins That Are Poorly Wound

Your bobbin may not be properly wound. This can cause the thread to become too loose, which could lead to your fabric buckling and gathering. Use the sewing machine function to wind your bobbin rather than hand-winding. This will maintain the right tension in the thread.

5. Blunt Needles

Blunt Needles

While general-purpose needles are fine for sewing most fabrics, a sharp needle is necessary to sew fine materials. This will prevent the needle from slipping and causing fabric crumples.

It might be time for a replacement if you have used the needle for a whole sewing project or more than three hours. Regular needle replacement helps to prevent wrinkling from blunt needles.

6. The Wrong Thread

The Wrong Thread

Your sewing machine may be threaded correctly, but the fabric is still flapping. You should use thread that is equal in weight to your fabric. For thicker fabrics, use a thicker bobbin and upper thread. A fine thread is best for lightweight fabric. Pair your fabric with your thread to ensure that your stitches don’t pull or gather.

7. Too Tight Thread Tension

If tension is too high, the thread will be stretched during sewing and then relaxed afterward. The thread can gather the fabric when the seams are too long and cause a puckered seam. Re-sew the part by adjusting the tension.

8. Incorrect Stitch Length

Incorrect Stitch Length

An incorrect stitch length is a thread that has not been sewn into fabric securely and/or with too much/not enough space among the stitches. It puckers when it is pieced with other parts of the fabric. To re-sew parts, you will need to adjust the length of the stitches.

If insufficient or too much space between the stitches, the stitch length adjustment will be invalid. The thread must also be sewn securely into the fabric.

How to Deal With Avec Puckers?

Here are some things you can do if your fabric starts to crumple in the middle of your sewing.

Check that your needle has the correct thread and is properly threaded. Make sure the needle is pointed and suitable for the fabric.

You should not adjust the tension of your sewing machine too tight.

To prevent curved seams from puckering, ensure you have trimmed the seam allowance properly to remove any excess fabric. Make small cuts along the seam at right angles to create the curve, but don’t cut into the stitches.

Before you begin a project, test your thread tension by sewing a straight line on a scrap of fabric. If this helps to reduce bunching, your tension may be too tight. You can trim the top and bottom threads of fabric puckering during sewing by cutting a small section of stitches.


  • Reduce tension on the thread as it is wound onto a lockstitch bobbin.
  • You want to keep the tension of the needle as low as you can while still achieving a balanced stitch. This will decrease the amount of thread stretching and puckering and improve the sewing quality.
  • A high-quality, long-lasting sewing thread should be used with a low-friction fabric lubricant. This will ensure the thread runs smoothly through the tension controls and thread guides.
  • For smooth thread flow to your sewing area, use a high-quality thread with even unwinding tension.
  • You must ensure that your sewing machine’s feed timing is correct. Incorrect timing can lead to an unbalanced stitch. An incorrect feed timing could cause excessive tension to the needle thread.

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