Puckered Seams: Cause and Remedy


Puckered seams are a dead give-away that seams have not been sewn with the proper sewing technique.  Really, it all comes down to understanding how fabric is woven.  This is what I was taught by Carol Ahles to us new machine dealers, and it has been SO useful to improving my sewing projects over the years.  I hope this Blog Post will make it all clear to you as well.  puckered sewn seam

  • HOW FABRIC IS WOVEN – Lengthwise (warp) threads are placed on the loom first, and are at a high tension, or stretched.  Then the crosswise threads are woven through.  There is more ‘give’ to crosswise grain than lengthwise grain.  Given a piece of woven fabric with absolutely NO indication of which grain is which, lengthwise and crosswise, I can sew on it and immediately tell you which is the lengthwise grain and which is the crosswise.  The crosswise stitching will look nicer, because of the subtle ‘give’ of the threads.
  • CUT OF THE GARMENT – The problem of puckered seams really shows its ugly head on straight seams.  For example, the side seams of straight leg pants, or the side seams of a slim ,straight skirt.
  • STRETCH in BOBBIN THREAD – Another machine educator, April Dunn for Elna at the time, taught me that winding a bobbin should be done SLOWLY.  Especially when using polyester thread that has stretch in it.  If woven at a high speed, the thread will stretch.  Then, when it is sewn into a garment the thread tension can finally relax which = puckers.  So, wind those bobbins SLOWLY.

Watch this video to see the remedy for puckered seams.  It’s all in TAUT SEWING, and PROPER PRESSING.  


REMEDIES for Puckered Seams

To summarize then, the remedy for puckered seams includes the following:

  • Stitch with ‘taut sewing technique’.  I always teach my students that your left hand belongs BEHIND the needle, and the right hand in front of the (as in the video), simply snip every 3-4 threads, stretch and press, then stitch again with TAUT sewing.
  • MELD the seam.  Press the seam in the same manner in which it was sewn.  This makes the threads sink down and become one with the fabric.  This is also why you should select a thread close in diameter to the threads of which the fabric has been created.  Size is more important than fiber – with one exception:  knits MUST be sewn with polyester thread for the stretch.

There you have it – and with my wishes that this will improve the final appearance of straight seams.  

Do you have sewing questions?  I’m most happy to give you answers as I am able.  Contact me at 217-369-4687, or you can contact me online . While you’re there, please check out my online shop, etc. Right now there are AMAZING savings on extra Expo/Show Inventory HERE. 

Would you like to come sew with me in my Sunroom Sewing Studio?  We would have a BLAST, and you would learn ALOT.  Contact me for details.

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9 Responses

  1. Janine R says:

    I would have loved to have seen the resewn seam after it had been pressed.

    • admin says:

      Thank y ou for writing! The video that I posted got cut off. I will try to get it fixed and re-posted for you and others. Thanks again for writing!!!

  2. Another great video Londa! Thank you! I’ve noticed this does happen a lot more with long, straight seems but I never thought to keep the fabric taut while sewing. I’ve heard so many differing views on pressing first the way the seam was sown! Some say this is a “myth” and others swear by it 🙂

  3. rita pocock says:

    I have twice sewn side seams now, and still they are puckered. So your blog has been most instructive. I have bookmarked it for future reference.
    BUT is there any way I can remedy my side seams without having to sew them a third time? I am running out of thread.

    Many thanks (Rita Pocock)

    • admin says:

      YES! Just snip every 1/2″ or so with a seam ripper on one side. Then REALLY stretch as you sew AGAIN. Good luck. Glad you found help here.

  4. T. says:


    I saw the top of your left hand in the video, heard your voice. I was unable to make the video larger to see the demonstration.

    • admin says:

      Just click on the square in the lower right hand corner, next to ‘You-Tube’ and it will go full screen for you as is just did for me. Always happy to help.

  5. Betsy says:

    Thank you so much for the information! I made valances that are completed and have noticed puckered seams. I made them with decorator fabric and polyester thread. Is there anything I can do after the fact to eliminate the puckering?
    Thank you!

    • admin says:

      If you would like, I’d be happy to look at a picture to give you my honest opinion. So much of successful sewing is the technique with which you actually feed the fabric through the sewing machine – and as I show in this video, it has to be TAUT – with one hand behind, and one hand in front. Generally, where there are puckered seams, only going in and ripping threads every inch or so, pressing with steam firmly, and actually stretching to eliminate the pucker, then re-stitching as I described above will help. You can send pictures to me at londa@londas-sewing.com

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