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Mike's Sewing Machine Repairs

My embroidery design is all puckered around the outside now that I’m finished. What’s wrong with the tension?

If the design looks good, and you have a nice balance of embroidery thread and bobbin fill (top embroidery thread is supposed to pull underneath), then your tension is most likely not the problem here. Instead (more-often-than-not) the fabric in that you have embroidered into has been stretch too tightly in the hoop.

Essentially, if you stretch your fabric super-tight when hooping up, the fibres of the fabric are pulled wide apart. Then you embroider a big design over these fibres and when you remove the fabric from the hoop and the hoop is no longer holding the fibres pulled apart, they want to bounce back to their normal position BUT the embroidery design’s stitches are in the way, so all the fabric can do is gather around the outside of the design. Try the same design again, but this time, you want your fabric nice and smooth, instead of the often-used phrase “drum tight”. Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that loose is OK, that will pucker up as you embroider in another way, so you need to find a happy medium of smooth and flat. Here’s a few simple steps to get the balance right:

  • hoop fabric and appropriate stabiliser
  • screw hoop-screw tight but not as tight as you can just yet
  • flatten any visible wrinkles out of your fabric by gently pulling it (not the stabiliser) from around the edges of the outside of the hoop
  • place a finger firmly in the middle of the hoop, pinning down the fabric and while it is there –
  • drag anther finger all over the hooped fabric looking to see if it wrinkles as you do
  • if it does, pull the fabric a little tighter and try again; when it does not, you are good to go
  • now tighten the hoop-screw as firmly as you can *if you have arthritis you may need to use a small screw driver, but otherwise finger tightening is enough

Some other points to remember:

  • use the right stabiliser for what you are doing
  • whichever stabiliser your use should fill the entire hoop
  • use the RIGHT bobbinfill in your machine as recommended by the manufacturer – the wrong weight will change tension results
  • iron your fabrics before you hoop them, and try BEST PRESS starch alternative to get stubborn fold marks out, without leaving residue on your fabric

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