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pucker factor

MarieCurie | Posted in General Discussion on

I’m making a simple bias cut skirt from sheer (polyester) fabric with french seams.  I did everything I’m supposed to: single stich throat plate, fine 100 wt silk thread, light presser foot presure, correct thread tension, correct pressing.  The seams pucker like a big dog.  The side seams pull up at least an inch higher than the front of the skirt.  What else can I do to fix it?  Should I stretch the fabric as I sew?


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    Try putting a piece of tissue paper under the seams when you stitch them up.

  2. Gloriasews | | #2

    Because the skirt is cut on the bias, the front & back will have more stretch to them & will hang lower than the sides.  Have you hemmed it yet?  You should hang it for a day or two so that the skirt will settle in length as much as it will, then mark the hem & hem it.  As for the puckers, I'd try Annie's suggestion of sewing the seams with paper under the fabric or use a walking foot, if you have one.  Do you have enough ease in the side seams?  Sometimes the seams pucker as the skirt may pull across the tummy & hips.  Bias clothing usually needs more ease, because of the settling when it's worn or hung.  Can you let out the side seams to see if that's the problem?  To lengthen the sides, you might try using a scrap of the fabric, sew a side seam while stretching the fabric a bit, & see how it behaves.  Sometimes it works - sometimes it just makes the puckers worse. 


    1. MarieCurie | | #4

      I am hanging the skirt right now to let it settle before I hem it.  There are no pulls across the front of the tummy region--I'm very petite, and I cut a pattern size 14 to give lots and lots of wearing easy for this one.  I made the same pattern two years ago in the same fabric but a different color, and did not have this problem.  How will tissue paper help?  Won't I be picking out bits of paper until next winter?  The point of the skirt is to practice using the sheer fabric and lining fabric before I cut and sew a new dress from the same stuff.  Should I use a diffent seam?  A simple double sewn seam maybe?

      1. Gloriasews | | #5

        How did you finish the seams in your previous skirt made out of this fabric?  You said you had no problem with that one.  As Starzoe said, maybe it's the French seams that are the problem - they may be too heavy or not provide enough give.  As for the tissue paper, it prevents the feed dogs from biting into the fabric, possibly causing the fabric to stretch a bit.  No, the tissue come off easily if your stitches aren't too tight (or too loose)- just pull it gently sideways from the stitching.  Try it on a sample of scraps. 


      2. sewchris703 | | #9

        I use parchment paper (used for baking; found in the baking or foil isle in the grocery store) instead of tissue paper. It pulls out cleaner than tissue paper.Chris

        1. MarieCurie | | #10

          That's a great idea.  I use parchment paper for pattern paper--I have to trace a size 6 shoulder and a size 8 side seam--but want to keep the original pattern piece intact.  It's translucent so I can see the lines, but isn't really fragile like tissue paper.

  3. starzoe | | #3

    Your problems may be the french seams on the bias skirt, especially on the very fine sheer fabric.

  4. DONNAKAYE | | #6

    I don't think anyone has mentioned it, but your side seams should have been cut on the straight of grain, with the center front/back cut on bias.  I got this tip I think from an old issue of Threads some years back.  They had photographs of the same skirt cut both ways.  The difference was amazing.  Not much help, I know, but maybe next time it'll work out a little better for you.

  5. KathleenFasanella | | #7

    Personally, I never do a french seam on a bias edge for two reasons. First, french seams are typically used to keep silk from unraveling -which only happens when silk is cut on the straight of grain so it's extra work and to no purpose (other than aesthetics). Bias, by definition, doesn't unravel. Second, french seams are reinforcing the length of the line, retaining its shape when it wants to elongate or grow.

    Two other matters. Walk those seam lines of the pattern before you cut to make sure they're the same length. Too often they are not. Second, I've used a slight zig zag on bias seams to great effect. You need more thread length for when the seam grows and the additional slight length provided by a zig zag as opposed to a straight line of stitching can make a lot of difference. You should not be surprised after the fact to note that the zig zag straightens once the dress or skirt has hung.

    1. MarieCurie | | #8

      Would a stretch stitch have the same effect on sheers?  The skirt is practice for a "good church dress" dress pattern with very simple side seams.  The dress side seams are not exactly A line, not exactly straight of grain, and I want it to be clean on the inside. 

      After hanging the skirt for almost 48 hours, most of the puckers have fallen out.  How did that happen?

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