What to do when your fabric is puckering

What to do when your fabric is puckering

Based on real-life events! :)

How many times did your fabric get crumbled and puckered and become the cause of your distress?

Actually, that's a quite common occurrence, both among beginners and experienced stitchers. The difference is that experienced stitchers usually know a) how to avoid this b) how to fix it if it happens, after all.

Recently I got a message asking for help with this exact problem. After using some of my tips, Joanne was able to fix the issue!

Knowing that many beginner stitchers go through the same stressful situations as puckering and overstretching of fabric, I asked her permission to share her story and she kindly agreed! :)

What to do when your fabric is puckering

The fabric is 100% linen. When I stitched the bottom floral, the hoop (about 7") landed right in the center of the design. I left the hoop on for months. Yikes, big mistake, I should have known better, I've done plenty of cross stitch in the past. This really stretched out the linen in the center of the design. Once the entire outside shape and floral was stitched I rinsed out the washable tracing marker (including the names in the center) hoping the center fabric would go back in place. I just laid it flat to dry without stretching, this is the first picture I sent that is very wrinkly. With your direction, I re-wet it, stretched and clipped it tight across the glass cutting board. Once dry, I retraced the names and date with the washable marker, used a LARGE hoop to finish stitching, re-wet and again clipped to the glass to dry. The second time I clipped to the glass it didn't need to be stretched. 

Thank you again, I don't think it would have turned out as nice without your help. I'm so excited to start another project.


Joanne, I'm so happy the fabric issue was solved and the finished result looks so gorgeous! :)

Now, let's go through the tips that anyone can use to conquer a similar problem!

Actually, you might have already guessed the steps from the story.

To get rid of puckering 1) wet your fabric (either soak it in lukewarm water, soapy if you need to wash it and erase some marks, for example, or use a water spray) and 2) stretch it thoroughly.

There are many ways to stretch it. You can pin it to a corkboard if you have one. I use simple wooden photo frames from a dollar store and office clips. Joanne clipped her needlework to a glass cutting board.

As you see, there are many options. But the main thing is to stretch it reeeally well until there is no puckering anymore. And the best way to do that is when the fabric is still wet so that it “memorizes” the stretched state better and will not get back to the crumpled state once released.

I found some pictures from 2016 where you can see me stretching my needleworks on photo frames.

What to do when your fabric is puckering

What to do when your fabric is puckering

What to do when your fabric is puckering

By the way, the works you see here are: Yellow poppies, Pink poppies and Dogrose.

Lastly, here are some tips on how to avoid the problem of puckering!

First of all, always take your needlework out of the hoop once you finish your stitching session for the day.

Secondly, don't go overboard when putting your fabric in an embroidery hoop. It is well-known that the fabric must be drum taut in a hoop or embroidery frame but don't overstretch it as it will result in puckering too. 

If you don't want to be worried whether the fabric is stretched evenly or too much – use this lifehack of using fusible interlining. It does a great job of keeping your fabric evenly taut at all times!

That's all. If you've ever encountered a similar problem, share your story and your ways of solving it in the comments! Let's gather all the tips available :)


  1. Thanks for addressing this dilemma. I'm sure so many have experienced it and didn't know what to do.
    xx, Carol

  2. Thanks for this helpful tutorial and the whole blog of tips and tricks! These are so useful. How long do you leave the work stretched? Do you remove it any time after it dries?

    1. I usually leave it overnight, unless I want to mount/frame it the very same day. Then I wait until it is still slightly damp, iron it and mount/frame :)

  3. Thank you so much.
    This is exactly what I needed to learn.


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