The Avid Embroiderer Presents - Did you ask "What is Pull Compensation?"

Just like many of the crafts, there are so many words that are specific to embroidery.  Often the word is self explanatory, but IMHO Push/Pull Compensation (PC) is not one of them.  Today, I am going to do a very general discussion of PC.  I am by no means an expert, but I did learn a few things and want to share.   Sharing is the whole reason for my doing my blog.  Some of these blogs are diamonds, some are reviews and some are just discussion.  This one is a diamond (IMHO).

So many factors affect the outcome for your project; the weight and stretching of the fabric, the type of fabric (woven versus knit) and the original digitization just to mention a few of those issues.  PC is generally taught to digitizers, but I have not seen any classes that include it for embroiderers. Understanding is the first step to correcting.

A digitizer must create a design that will work for a 'general' fabric base.  Some digitizing says that a particular design may indicate that a particular design is best on heavy or light fabric, but most do not.  Understanding digitizing will incredibly change your view of embroidery.  Additionally, there are so many things a digitizer needs to be proficient in!!  PC is just one of them.

I always encourage beginners (a short tutorial with tips for everyone) to work with denim and play with different types of designs.  The reason for that is so that the newbie will experience success.  Denim is so forgiving.  If you have puckering or problems with denim, that would be generally unusual.

There are two times when you will see something like the attached failure:


That was an edging around the free standing lace.  The stabilizer (it really was not Badgemaster) expanded the hole made by the needle and caused stabilizer to spread.  So when the edge came along, it was still in position of the original stitching while the stabilizer was 2mm (1/8") away.  For the most part, this is stabilizer failure. 

On to PC.  Once again, the weight and stretch of the fabric, woven (we also know that woven has some stretch too!), or knit, etc., can and will possibly make your stitches not as planned. 

Let's say that you are doing a very large letter "I".  In some cases, there will be a single row of satin stitches.  If it is really big, it is likely to have one stitching line traveling one way and a return stitch coming back the other direction.  Every needle penetration grabs the bobbin and together they 'pull' to make a snug/tight stitch.   Longer stitches are effected even more by PC.

Stitches are ‚Äúpulled in" causing a shortening effect.  They are "pushed out" when the stitch direction reverses.  While these actions are not equal, they will need to both be adjusted.  The  digitizer has already attempted to make these adjustments, but it was done so for a 'general' audience, and your project is very specific.  

Lets add to the mix - not all machines have the same tensions. Embroidery speed, tensions, stretchier/more stable fabric, different threads (This blog discusses how 40 weight threads are NOT all the same)  Did you want to know that they are not the same?  Just like any other talent to master, this is another that only experience will cure.

OK, you have an idea of the straight up and down stitching.  Now get a little more involved.  Lets say that you are putting baby blocks stacked one upon the other.  In order to have no gap, you will be increasing the 'pull compensation' so that they overlap just a small amount.  As you learn to estimate your compensation, you will get better at judging how much to fine-tune your numbers. 

Compensation is difficult to master.  However, 'playing' with the designs will give you an idea of where you understand versus some confusion.  There is a lot more information on the Net about this compensation issue, but nothing works better than trial and error.  Incidentally, the auto-digitize types of programs may well have some compensation features, but it is likely that you will be modifying any designs or be OK with a design that is less than professional.

Here is my version of PC. 



The arrow on the left is pointing to the registration issue.  There is a line around both of these (they are the same except for PC) and on the left, you can see that the stitching does not meet the edge line. 

The arrow on the right shows the puckering - which is nearly absent on the one on the right.


Compensation is used for satin stitching but could be an issue for running stitches as well.  Don't forget, sometimes you get what you paid for when downloading those freebies.  AnnTheGran has high quality designs.  Free or paid, I have never been unhappy with any design.  I actually have complained to two different sites - you would know their names - but they felt that the design was just fine. 

OK, that was a brief and abridged version of 'Compensation.'  The next two photos show a little different facet to the compensation story. 

I trimmed the fabric a little too short and the satin stitch failed on this one.  But I decided to increase the satin width on the next one and I was so delighted with the results.  The photos are not as nice as in person, but the concept is excellent.

The first arrow shows a .2mm width for the satin stitch.  The second arrow is at .4mm.  It definitely looks more rich. 

I did find these numbers during my research for this blog.  I don't know if they are accurate, but they do demonstrate that different fabrics need different PC.  The softer the fabric, the longer the stitch must be compensated..  

Cotton     0.20

T-Shirt     0.35

Fleece     0.40

Lettering  0.20 to 0.0



Yes, ladies and gentlemen,  I have started writing positive quotes.  I see them everywhere and want to add my own feelings too. 

Add a positive quote to the comments section below.  I love hearing them, even over and over again.  Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

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