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Quilt Backing Fabric Has Puckers

by Marlene W.

I have machine quilted my quilt. Some parts of the quilt backing fabric have puckered.

I pinned it correctly, or so I thought. I used a walking foot. Could it be because perhaps some of the pins did not go right through the whole quilt sandwich? It just seems that the back layer has moved.

Hope you can help.


I think you've hit the nail on the head!

If you are having puckers on just the back of the quilt the causes could be two-fold:

1. As you suggested, if the safety pins did not go clear through the quilt backing fabric, then they were unable to do their job which is to hold all the layers together. Safety pins should be no more than about four inches apart. A good test is to lay your palm (with fingers together) on the top of your pin basted quilt. If you can't feel at least 2 safety pins, you need to pin more.

Also, after your quilt is pin basted and you've removed the tape and picked up the quilt, turn it over and check to see that those pins have gone all the way through.

2. The other possible cause of these puckers is that the quilt backing wasn't properly taped or held down as you layered the quilt.

Now as you tape, the purpose is to hold the backing in place for when you layer on the batting and quilt top. You can't see the backing and the tape is to help you control that back. You are taping it down so that it is taut but not stretched, because stretching could also cause puckers.

I baste on my kitchen floor which is 12" ceramic tile. ('Hate getting up off of it when I'm done!) I tape the backing down to the floor with masking tape. Pull a piece of tape about 3-4 inches long.

Tape the North side of the backing in the center, then the South in the center. Next it's East and West, both in the center. Then NE and SW, and NW and SE. You get the idea, put a piece of tape on one side and then immediately its opposite. Continue taping until the backing is held taut in all directions.

Before adding the batting, evaluate your work.

Can you see wrinkles or ripples? If so, then adjust the tape, until those ripples pretty much disappear. Next run your palm over the quilt back, palm flat on the fabric and move it over the backing much like you'd pet your cat or dog...not too much pressure, but definitely contact. Does a bubble of fabric rise up before your palm. If so, re-tape until you no longer create this bubble while "caressing" the quilt.

Marlene, I hope this helps you out. Let me know how it goes.

Quilting is such a wonderful thing to do. I wish you the best!

Julie Baird

Comments for Quilt Backing Fabric Has Puckers

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by: Annette

Hi there. Baby quilt for a gift. Puckering on the back. What do I do? There is no time to start over? Want to try and save this one. Do I add a second backing? How do I secure second backing, there is no ditch for stitching, was a solid top just dit free motion quilting.


From the Editor: Without seeing the extent of the puckering, it's hard to say.

If you didn't prewash any--not the fabric or batting--and it's all cotton, there's a good chance it'll shrink in the washing machine...and we'd want to wash a baby quilt after working on it and before we gift it, right?

There's a decent chance that the quilt will pucker with washing and look like it was meant to be.

I hope this helps. Remember, it's the thought that counts and most people can't sew, let alone quilt.



Presser foot pressure
by: Anonymous

Suggest reducing the presser foot pressure to suit the thickness of the sandwich.

Number 4 on the newer machines works well.

With a thicker batting use a larger needle - Quilting #14.

Kitchen island bench
by: Margaret

I use my kitchen island bench to pin the layers of backing, batting and top together as I can no longer crawl around on the floor. The bench is an ideal height (~ 94cm) for my back, for pinning and I am able to pin 1/4 of the quilt at a time and turn it over to check the other side.

Having said that, this time I am having a lot of difficulties with puckering. I use a walking foot, I pressed both sides of the fabric and pin baste. The fabric on the top seems to be stretching and the backing fabric seems to be dragging as I sew long edge seams.

I keep unpicking and resewing bit by bit.

by: Anonymous

Is there any suggestions on what to do if you have puckers on your had sewed applique should I hand stitch the puckers on the back so the lay flat or just suck it up and leave them.

From the Editor: If you think that the puckers may catch on something and eventually cause damage or excess wear to the quilt during use, then hand stitching them down might be a good idea.

If you don't believe and don't see any extra wear I would just move on to the next quilt. We learn from everything we do. Particularly when we go through the whole process of completing a quilt—because we see how the choices we make fit all parts of its creation.

Good luck to you! I'm sure that what you decide will be the best decision for you.


Julie Baird

Japanese silk pins
by: Geni

I was having the same problem where stitching lines crossed. I used my fine straight pins to "baste" where I was going to stitch, especially at the intersections.

Worked great!

From the Editor: I totally agree with you, Geni. Using straight pins for some quick extra basting is a terrific idea and one that I use, too!

~ Julie

Quilting tables for ease of back or knee pain
by: Ann

I saw a lot of comments on sandwiching your quilt on the floor. Walmart and Lowes has 5 and 6 foot tables. And they arent very expensive. I bought 3 and can sandwich a queen size quilt on the tables. It is easy on the back as well. works for me. Ive never had to lay a quilt on the floor.Hope this helps someone.

Crawling around floor a problem
by: Anonymous

Any suggestions for a quilter with bad knees and crawling around on the floor just doesn't work. Can a quilting frame be used to put the quilt sandwich together, pin it, and remove to machine quilt it? I don't have a long arm. Or do I break down and buy several folding tables & set them up to do your taping the backing down method?

From the Editor

My knees rebel, too!

Sharon Schamber has come up with an alternative...based on how a long arm machine puts the layers together (without the machine)... can see the two videos on the page How do I control my quilt sandwich during quilting?. The videos are about half way down the page.

My mother used to use her method for basting and really liked it. I inherited her boards, but haven't used this technique yet.

Let me know if that helps!


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