How To Prevent Stretchy Fabric From Puckering (Tips and Tricks!)

how to prevent puckering stretchy fabric

How Do You Sew Stretchy Fabric Without Puckering

You may be wondering how to keep a stretch fabric from puckering when sewing. This common problem can cause extreme frustration for even the most talented and experienced sewers. 

Materials like jerseys or spandex can be especially tricky when it comes to preventing puckering. Puckering can cause your project to look sloppy, so it’s essential to take steps to prevent it.

Puckering occurs when the fabric is stretched too much during sewing, causing the threads to bunch up and create a gathered effect. There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening, such as using a walking foot, using a serger, or even using a smaller stitch.

In this article, we’ll discuss the causes of puckering, how to prevent it, and some tips for working with stretchy fabric. By the end, you’ll be an expert at avoiding this common sewing mistake!

sewing stretchy fabric

What Causes a Stretch Fabric to Pucker When Sewing?

Stretch fabric is an excellent choice for garments that need to fit well and move with the body. However, it can be tricky to sew because it tends to pucker when sewn with a traditional straight stitch.

Stretch fabrics often pucker when sewn because the fabric is trying to return to its natural state. When the material is stretched, it pulls on the seams, which is the leading cause of unseemly puckering.

Another reason for puckering is that the fabric is not stretched evenly as it is sewn.

Before we jump into how to prevent puckering, let’s talk briefly about the different stretch fabrics available to you and their purposes.

The Major Types of Stretch Fabric

Different types of stretch fabric are best for various purposes.

The two main types of stretch fabric are knit and woven. Each type of fabric has its own unique properties and is best suited for specific sewing projects.

Knit Fabric

Knit fabrics are made from interlocking loops of yarn. They have a lot of give and are very stretchy. The most common type of knit fabric is jersey, which is often used to make t-shirts, leggings, and other form-fitting garments. Other knit fabrics include rib knit, Ponte knit, and interlock knit.

Woven Fabric

Woven fabrics are made from crisscrossing threads that are interlaced at right angles. They don’t have as much give as knit fabrics, but they can still stretch a little bit. The most common type of woven fabric with stretch is Lycra, which is often used to make swimsuits, activewear, and form-fitting clothing. Other common weaves include denim, corduroy, and twill.

Knowing the difference between knit and woven fabrics is important because it will help you choose the best type of fabric for your specific sewing project.

The other common stretch fabric you will come across regularly is spandex. 

Spandex

Spandex is a type of synthetic fiber that is known for its stretchiness. Spandex can also be infused with the natural substance lycra in order to improve its durability. Spandex is often used in activewear and swimsuits because it can stretch up to five times its original length.

Spandex is usually blended with other fabrics to give them a little bit of stretch. For example, you might find a cotton-spandex blend or a polyester-spandex blend.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of stretch fabric let’s get into how to prevent puckering when sewing.

Tips to Prevent a Stretch Fabric From Puckering When Sewing

Stretchy fabrics are often susceptible to puckering, which can be a significant flaw in the overall appearance of a garment. There are a few ways to prevent this from happening, however.

Let’s start with the sewing itself.

Use the right thread

When sewing with a stretchy fabric, it’s essential to use a thread that has some “give” to it. This will help the thread to move with the material as it stretches, rather than breaking or causing the fabric to pucker. We recommend

Avoid using pins

Pins can cause puckering in stretchy fabrics because they can leave tiny holes that act as weak points. Instead of pins, try using clips or wonder clips to hold your material in place.

Use a stretch needle

Choose a needle designed for stretch fabrics. These needles have a unique curve that allows them to pierce the fabric without damaging it.

A sharp needle is essential when sewing with any fabric, but it’s especially important when working with stretchy fabrics. A dull needle can cause the fabric to pucker and tear. Look for a needle explicitly designed for sewing stretch fabrics, such as a ballpoint needle.

Increase your stitch length

We all have our preferred stitch lengths. However, when you sew with a stretchy fabric, it’s important to use a longer stitch than you normally would.

A longer stitch length will allow the thread to stretch more without breaking. This is particularly important when sewing a seam that will be under a lot of stress, such as a shoulder seam.

Use a zigzag stitch

A zigzag stitch is a must when sewing with stretchy fabrics. This type of stitch allows the thread to stretch without breaking. It’s also less likely to cause the fabric to pucker.

Now, we’ll take a look at some of the tech you can use to improve your stretch fabric sewing game.

Use a Serger

A serger is a type of sewing machine that is specifically designed for working with stretch fabrics. It can be used to sew a seam, as well as to finish the raw edges of the fabric. This is a great option if you’re looking for a professional-looking finish.

Use a Walking Foot

A walking foot is a type of sewing machine foot that helps to feed the fabric evenly through the machine. This is especially important to prevent bunching, as stretch fabrics can be difficult to feed through a standard sewing machine foot.

Use a Stabilizer

A stabilizer is a type of fabric that is used to support stretch fabrics while you sew. It helps to prevent the fabric from stretching out of shape and becoming distorted.

There are a few different types of stabilizers, but we recommend using a water-soluble stabilizer for best results. This type of stabilizer will dissolve in water, making it easy to remove when you’re finished sewing.

Test your stitch before you sew

Lastly, test your stitch before you start on your pattern.

Before you start sewing with a new thread or needle, it’s always a good idea to test your stitch on a scrap piece of fabric. This will help you to avoid any potential problems down the line.

Conclusion

Stretch fabrics can be a challenge to sew, but with the right techniques, you can prevent puckering and achieve a professional-looking finish. We’ve provided a few tips to help you get started.

Always keep the following things in mind:

  1. Test your stitch on the fabric before starting.
  2. Use a longer stitch as it will be less likely to gather or put a strain on the seam.
  3. Use a zigzag stitch.
  4. Use a stretch needle and stretch thread.
  5. Consider investing in a Serger machine and a walking foot.
  6. Use clips rather than pins.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to sew stretch fabrics like a pro in no time!

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