Stitch The Sketch #9 is entitled “The Round House”. I saw this scene that I found interesting because of the round house.
Usually, houses have these very straight lines so when I see architecture with curves it piques my interest and that’s exactly what this one did.
I also like the fact that the view is from a terrace top looking out into the distant hills. Knowing how much I LOVE pots and vases, it didn’t help that there was a vase sitting on the terrace 🙂
Here’s my initial pencil sketch:
And here is my fabric drawing with stitch (front)
Fabric drawing with stitch (reverse)
Here’s the video that shows me doing the work. Scroll down after the video to see my tips for this episode. I revisited the issue of seam puckering and I’ve got a ton of tips to help you avoid seam puckering in the tips and techniques section below.
Tips, Techniques, and Tools
Troubleshooting Seam Puckering Issues
Seam puckering and fabric draw up seem to be one of the biggest issues people face when drawing with thread, free motion quilting, thread sketching or any other form of dense stitching.
I know how frustrating that can be. For the most part, I don’t experience issues with seam puckering. However, I do get my fabric draw up at the outside edges of my stitched drawings and that is very frustrating as well.
So I went on a hunt for solutions to this seam puckering and fabric draw up issues. After reading many technical documents from the textile and fashion industries, I’m glad to share my findings.
4 Main Reasons Seam Puckering Occurs
- Displacement of the fabric yarns
- Shrinkage (of thread, fabric, stabilizer etc.)
- Thread Tension
- Uneven Fabric Feed
How to Avoid Seam Puckering
So now knowing what the underlying causes are, here’s what to do.
Tightly Woven Fabrics
Very tightly woven fabrics are more likely to cause seam puckering because it’s difficult for the sewing needle to pierce through, thus causing the yarns to draw up. Here’s the solution:
- Needles: Use finer point machine needles to help with this.
- Threads: Use finer threads so the thread can easily go through the fabric without displacing the yards too much.
- Presser Foot: Use presser foot and needle plates with small needle holes
- Increase stitch length and reduce thread density if possible. I find that when the sewing machine speed is faster than your hands can move the fabric around, you get short stitch lengths; so endeavor to coordinate the two.
- Fabric: Consider using fabrics which are less tightly woven.
When the different materials you’re using to sew, shrink at different rates, it can cause seam puckering.
When puckering occurs only after steam is applied to the work, the most likely culprit, in that case, is that the materials in your work shrink at different rates.
To solve this:
- Preshrink fabric before use by washing and ironing
- Check for consistency in the shrinkage of other materials -fabric, thread, stabilizer, batting etc. – in your project. Or you can try several combinations of materials till you find what works best together.
Last weekend, I was having a hard time with skipped stitches and breaking machine needles. This was very perplexing to me because, since I became comfortable at free motion stitching, I hardly break machine needles or get skipped stitches.
After trying many things, I discovered that my thread tension was too high. Immediately I dialed it down, the problem was solved.
Also, the looser your thread tension, the better your chances of avoiding both thread breakage and seam puckering. Tight tension will definitely lead to puckering.
Uneven Fabric Feed
When the top layer of the fabrics under your sewing machine needle are not being moved at the same rate as the bottom layers, you can develop seam puckering in your work.
The common solution for this is to use an even feed presser foot (walking foot). However, when you’re doing free motion stitching, you cannot use that kind of presser foot.
What you can do, is to lay some material on the bed of your sewing machine to help you easily move the fabric around. Check out what’s inside my thread sketching toolbox to see the tools I use for this purpose. Use the right tools, for the right results.
In conclusion, this turned out to be a really long post. I hope it’s a useful one too. There was so much good information I didn’t want to leave anything out. I hope you now have a lot of tools to work with when trying to solve seam puckering issues.
If you’re inclined to do more reading on the subject, there’s a chapter on fabric distortion in this book – Guide to basic Garment Assembly for the Fashion Industry by Jayne Smith – that you might want to check out.
What are some of your frustrations with thread sketching? Do seam puckering and fabric draw-up rank high up on your list? Do share.