How to Prevent Puckering When Quilting and Causes

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Puckering is a common problem in quilting, especially with the new quilters which is why it is always advisable to be cautious while quilting as it can be annoying going through the process of creating a quilt only to realize the occurrence of puckering. 

As a quilter or a hobbyist, you might be wondering if it is possible to prevent puckering from ruining your beautiful quilt, well, it can definitely be prevented.

In this article, we will be providing in-depth information on puckering, how it affects your quilt, its causes, and how it can be totally prevented. 

What Is Puckering?

Puckering is unwanted fabric pulls that occur while quilting creating uneven stitches. During the quilting process,  horizontal lines get stitched on each other which produces a dense fabric. These horizontal lines are meant to be totally aligned and the seam flushes with each other to produce a flawless finish.

In a situation where the weight gets shifted, puckering occurs and the fabric becomes out of place. This situation can be challenging and difficult to fix and all the efforts put into making a perfect and beautiful quilt might just get wasted. 

What are The Causes of Puckering?

When you notice creases at the back of your quilt, puckering has occurred, these can be caused by different factors, below are the common causes of puckering.

  • The inability of the safety pins to perfectly go through the backing leads to the layers not being perfectly held together.
  • When the back of the quilt has not been taped properly
  • When the quilt was not properly held down during layering.
  • Adjustment of sewing machine
  • Weight adjustment and shifting while quilting

How Do I Reduce The Risk of Puckering When Quilting?

As a quilter, your patience, skills, and passion will be tested constantly,  quilting is a craft that requires your skill set and time, as you might spend hours trying to make your creations ideal and flawless which, is why it can be disappointing when you notice the occurrence of puckering. 

Puckering can be prevented when proper procedures get followed. Below are the detailed preventive measures that can be followed to get your quilts free from puckering. 

– Pin Baste Close

It is advisable to go for pin basing instead of making use of the spray baster for a while. When you put in the effort and make a close pin baste, your quilting becomes better and the layers stop moving around preventing puckering from happening. 

– Stop Excess Stretching of the Backing

During the basting process of your quilt, make sure the backing fabric doesn’t get pulled too much. The layers tend to get loose at different ends when a layer is more excessively stretched than the others. 

– Try a Walking Foot Attachment

when your sewing machine is equipped with a built-in foot and you’re experiencing puckering on your project, it is advisable to consider making use of a walking foot attachment. In most cases, an attached walking foot attachment tends to work more perfectly than the built-in foot. 

– Work on a Large Table

The available accessories used in carrying out your project will have an impact on the project result which is why it is vital to provide outstanding support for your project during the whole quilting session.

It is possible for gravity to influence and obstruct a flat quilting process which results in the pulling of layers into wayward directions. To prevent this, you have to make use of a wide working table to ensure all parts of quilts that are not being controlled gets enough space to remain on the table instead of hanging on the floor. 

– Increase Stitch Length

Unlike piercing, you make use of a long stitch length when quilting. When the stitch is too short, it produces a high pressure that becomes too much for the foot and can make your project becomes messy.

A long stitch however will ensure the quilt floats in a single piece producing a smooth quilting process. 

– Reduce The Pressure Foot 

Puckering tends to occur when the weight of the pressure foot becomes too high. When the layers begin to move differently while quilting, unwanted pulling might happen. To prevent puckering, it is advisable to reduce the pressure as it ensures the foot works perfectly producing excellent sewing results. 

– Patiently Go Through The Quilting Process

It is advisable to maintain a slow pace during the straight-line quilting process. The walking foot becomes more effective and works efficiently with a moderate rhythm.

By maintaining a moderate pace during the quilting process, you can easily bypass puckering while acquiring outstanding basting integrity.

What To Do If Puckering Doesn’t Stop When Quilting?

If the puckering doesn’t stop after making use of the above-mentioned tips, you can consider changing your quilt direction. The process of making a straight line quilting in a single direction for a long duration can lead to puckering. 

When puckering occurs in the middle of a project, you can get frustrated and tempted to lose all the ready-made stitches. Instead of removing the ready-made stitch, you can provide more quilting on it to conceal the puckering. Dense quilting will provide the perfect texture that hides the puckers efficiently.

When the stitch lines between the spaces are significant, the puckering becomes more vivid. In this case, the proper distribution of fabric and filling up the spaces with additional quilting will help to camouflage the puckering.  

if the puckering becomes unpreventable, you might want to acquire a new sewing machine. It is important to take note that not all sewing machines are ideal for straight-line quilting.

What Is The Perfect Quilting Tension To Prevent Puckering?

Getting the tension settings right can also help in preventing puckering which is why it is very important to constantly check your sewing machine tension before starting a new quilting project when starting a new bobbin, new thread colour, and new needle, and before proceeding with quilting after the sewing machine has been switched off. 

To confirm if your sewing machine has a perfect tension,  create a sandwich with the exact material for your quilting project and make use of the exact thread, needle, and foot that will be used for your project to test the machine tension.

Perform some quilting on the test fabric, including curves and sharp points in your designs to check if there are any tension issues. Carefully examine the created stitch on the front and back of the testing fabric and make proper adjustments to the machine tension as required until there is a clear stitch definition on both sides of the test fabric. 

When the machine tension is perfect, there will be a clear stitch definition on both sides of the fabric. The stitch will run smoothly and there will be no tugging through of thread to the opposite sides of the fabric. 


Puckering is a common problem and you are not the only quilter currently facing this unwanted situation. By following this article, you will have a better understanding of puckering, what it entails, the causes, and how it can be prevented to achieve a smooth and perfect quilting result.