What is Seam Puckering? 

The unwanted waviness of the fabric along the seam line is called seam pucker or seam puckering. This may be apparent immediately after sewing. Most of the time, sewing threads are referred to as responsible for seam puckering. But, without sewing threads, there are so many reasons or causes for occurring seam puckering such as fabric structure, seam structure, needle size, feeding problem, uneven thread tension, and so on. This can be seen after sewing and sometimes after washing of garments. There is a great possibility of seeing seam puckering in case of more plies of fabric sewing together. This article has shown the main reasons for occurring seam puckering.

Reasons for Seam Puckering in the Garments:

The main reasons for occurring seam puckering have mentioned in the following:

  1. Unequal / Variable or uneven stretch on fabric plies,
  2. Fabric dimensional instability,
  3. Extension of/in sewing thread,
  4. Sewing thread shrinkage,
  5. Fabric construction,
  6. Mismatched patterns.

1. Unequal stretch on the plies of fabrics: When two or more plies of fabrics are sewn together. Then the fabric of each of the ply is supposed to be fed at the same time and at the same speed. But for any reason, especially if there is unbalanced stretch among the plies of the fabrics, one ply of fabric will be more fed than the other, as a result, seam puckering is created along the sewing line. This type of puckering problem happens mainly due to the limitation of the feeding mechanism of the machine. For example, in ordinary drop feed machine, it is very difficult to remove the feed puckering problem. If feed puckering is to remove, the feed mechanism of the sewing machine should be of good quality. In order to remove feed puckering in drop feed sewing machine, need skilled operator and fabric is to be handled in special mechanism.

2. Fabric dimensional stability: When two or more types of fabrics are sewn together, later on, especially after the washing of the garments, if the shrinkage of one fabric is bigger than the other, then the differential puckering is created. Before sewing of the fabrics of two or more types together, need to know the properties of their shrinkage. If the shrinkage difference of the two fabrics is 2% or more than that, then if those fabrics are sewn together, puckering will be created.

3. Extension in sewing thread: During sewing of fabrics, various types of tension happen on the sewing thread. Specially, the tension on the needle thread is bigger than the tension in under thread. Due to this tension, thread is extended to a great extent. After completion of sewing, the garments are removed from the machine, then due to the tension free condition, both fabric and thread, return to their normal volume after being shrinkage. If the shrinkage of both fabric and thread are same, then seam puckering problem does not occur. But, if the thread shrinks greater than fabric, then seam puckering will be created.

In case of puckering due to the extension of sewing thread, sewing arrangement is to be done using the tension of thread as less as possible and if possible, the problem can be solved also by changing the thread.

4. Sewing thread shrinkage: After sewing of the garments with sewing thread, for any reason, if the sewing thread shrinks, then seam puckering is created by gathering of the fabrics along the sewing line. This type of puckering is generally visible after washing and ironing of the garments.

Before sewing of any fabrics or garments, the shrinkage properties of fabric and sewing thread should be learnt. The shrinkage of synthetic sewing thread after washing is very little, because of this, in using this thread, there is no apprehension of such problems.

5. Fabric construction: During sewing of very densely woven fabrics, that means the large number of warp and weft threads per inch, the threads of the fabrics being displaced around, creates the space for sewing thread. As a result, seam puckering is created by gathering of the fabrics along the holes created by needles. This type of puckering happens for the densely woven fabrics and no appreciable solution is possible by mechanical adjustment of the sewing machine. If puckering is created due to the densely woven fabrics, then it is very difficult to remove it totally. But for reducing the rate of puckering, at least to some extent, steps that can be taken are discussed below:

  • The amount of puckering will be reduced if relatively fine thread and fine needles are used.
  • If the stitch density per inch is reduced, then also the amount of puckering will be lower, to some extent.
  • If possible, fabric is to be cut to some extent bias (15 to 20 degree) and then sewing, then puckering may be less.
  • If possible, chain stitch has to be used instead of lockstitch, then problem may be less.
  • If possible then fabric itself should be changed.

6. Mismatched patterns:

  • Puckering will create when two different size patterns are sewn together.
  • The designer is responsible for this. But can be occurred due to the wrong selection of patterns.
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