A Stitcher’s Guide to Pull Compensation


Pull compensation – what is it and why do you need it?

When stitches are applied to fabric some degree of “pull” or “push” may occur. The stitches can either pull the fabric in on the sides or push the fabric out on the ends, adding a small amount of extra stitches in the direction of the angle of the fill or column.

Stitch length, stitch type, density, underlay, fabric type and even type and amount of stabilizers used are factors that can account for amount pull or push you might experience.

A very simple description is that pull compensation makes an adjustment to the width of the satin or fill stitch area that in appearance seems to not be wide enough. In other words, a gap may be forming between an outline stitch and a fill stitch area which may result in poor registration of the design. Pull compensation broadens the rows of stitches to adjust for this. You will not always see this problem when digitizing the design and viewing it on your computer screen, but when embroidering the design, gaps will appear between fill areas or fill areas and outlines.

Pull compensation is only added to two edges of the design, relative to the angle of the fill area. Visualizing a square object, if the angle of the square is set to either 0 or 180 degrees, the pull compensation will be added to the horizontal edges of the design; if the angle of the stitching is set to either 90 or -90 degrees, the pull compensation will be added to the vertical edges of the design.

Evaluation of your design before the final sew out is an absolute must. There is a tendency with fill stitches to pull and push the fabric in opposite directions, causing the design to appear distorted.

Often, compensation can be made when the design is digitized, taking into consideration the fact that there will need to be some pull compensation added to design sections, making adjustments by varying the stitch direction, amount of underlay and the stitch density.

An example when you may need to add pull compensation is when a circle containing fill stitches is outlined with a satin stitch or straight stitch. The two areas may not meet, causing a gap between the outline and the fill stitch.

If the circle tends to flatten out on one or two sides, an adjustment can be made during the digitizing of the design. What happens in this instance is that the fabric is being pushed in one direction by the actual stitching. By adding pull compensation to the fill stitch of the circle and/or changing the fill direction this can be corrected.

If you are not the digitizer, you may be able to make your own adjustments by usingediting software such as Embird Editor, adjusting the pull compensation slightly. You may not find the correct amount of pull compensation to add the first time, so it is critical that test sew-outs of the design be made after every change.

Certain types of stitches do not allow for pull compensation.

A fill or satin stitch has width to it as part of its design, so pull compensation can be added.

Outline stitches such as a straight stitch, motif outline stitch or manual stitch outlines are used to define a shape or outline a design and do not have width to them, so pull compensation cannot be added to this type of stitch.

If you did wish to add pull compensation to an outline, changing the outline to a satin stitch would be one way of overcoming this problem. One disadvantage to changing a straight stitch to a satin stitch is that it increases the final stitch count. If stitch count is a consideration and the increase is too significant, try adding the pull compensation to the fill shape to meet the outline stitch. The actual stitch length of the fill stitch may also be altered along with the pull compensation and only slightly affect the overall stitch count.

Pull compensation will not solve puckering. If you are having puckering problems, one of the following may be the problem:

Appliqué and pull compensation

Pull compensation is critical when working with appliqué. If the edges of the satin stitch used to cover the appliqué are not wide enough for adequate coverage, they will eventually result in frayed edges, or the appliqué will not be held in place. By adding column width, or pull compensation, the coverage will be increased and secure the appliqué.

Adding Pull Compensation in Embird Editor

Pull compensation can be added to previously digitized designs with poor registration of outlines and colour blocks in the Editor portion of Embird or your editing software.

Open the design in Editor, separate any colour blocks that may need compensation added; select the design thumbnail to which compensation will be added; click on edit/pull compensation, adding the amount of pull compensation you feel is necessary to adjust poor registration of the design. You will need to do a test sample to check whether or not enough pull compensation has been added.


If you have digitized the design in Studio, any changes to pull compensation should be done by re-opening the design in Studio and making any changes through the parameters screen.