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Puffy Foam
  • Q: What is the definition of Foam?
  • A: Puffy foam is a high quality Ethylene Vinyl Acetate Foam that is made specifically for use on home sewing machines to add that flair, 3rd-dimension and excitement to your designs. Puffy Foam makes the stitching stand well above the fabric.
  • Q: When would I use Puffy Foam?
  • A: Whenever you want to add wonderful new dimension to computerized embroidery, machine satin stitches and/or free-motion satin stitching. It is being widely seen commercially in headgear and washable wearables.
  • Q: Where would I use Puffy Foam?
  • A: Use it on computerized embroidery designs that are especially digitized for Puffy Foam or that have satin-stitch elements in the pattern. It's fantastic with tapered elegant-style lettering. It's fun to use with your satin or column-like decorative stitches. Use under the satin stitch when you applique.
  • Q: Can any foam be used or only foam specifically designed for embroidery and why would I use Puffy Foam instead of other foam?
  • A: Puffy Foam perforates cleaner, allowing it to tear away more easily because it was specifically made to be used on home sewing machines for embroidery, applique and decorative satin stitches. (It is a much higher quality than "craft foam", which can leave nasty bits and pieces of foam inside your machine).
  • Q: What should I look for when choosing designs? Can any design be used with foam or are there specific designs created for foam?
  • A: Puffy Foam works best on designs that feature either a satin-stitch edge or underlay techniques that will perforate the foam prior to stitching the top layer. Not all machine and/or design cards are appropriate for Puffy Foam. Do a test sample before applying to finished projects.

    If you are digitizing yourself, use underlay techniques that will perforate the foam prior to the top layer of stitching: a double "edge walk" of running stitches combined with a light zig-zag wil accomplish this, and tack the foam in place. This technique can be used in combination with planking and capping:

  • Q: And just what is "planking" and "capping"?
  • A: Capping: On open column ends where there are no stitches to cut the Foam, if left unedited, Foam will extend from these open ends and it will have to be removed by hand. You can either "Cap" the end of a wide satin stitch column by either placing a satin stitch in the opposite direction, adding running stitches inside the open column, or throwing varying stitch lengths toward the center of the column along the instide column edge while keeping the outside-edge straight to cut the Foam and cap the end. Tapering the end is another option.

    Planking: Can be done in areas where columns intersect which can result in collapse of the Foam. Vary the stitch length so you don't creat a cut line for the Foam. (illustrations of both of these techniques appear on page 36 of the book, Sulky Secrets to Succesful Stabilizing #900B-11).

    Carol Ingram, a premier designer for Sulky, often uses Puffy Foam as a base for designs with fill-in stitches, which adds dimension and allows designs to be used as ornaments or for home-dec projects and they do not need to applied directly to fabric. See Carol's "Quick Ornaments & Accessories" project in the book, Sulky Secrets to Successful Applique #900B-14.

  • Q: Does it come in colors?
  • A: Yes. Use one of the 12 Puffy Foam colors that is closest to your thread color to make the foam less noticeable if any shows through your stitching. There is a combo pack that has all twelve colors, or individual packs with 3 sheets of one color.
  • Q: Does it come in different thicknesses?
  • A: It comes in 12 colors in each of two thicknesses, 2mm and 3mm, to create different stitching effects, and there is virtually no waste because even small pieces can be used. Layers can be stacked to make 4 mm and 5mm thicknesses....or whatever will fit under your presser foot or darning foot.
  • Q: Is it necessary to change machine tensions or density of a design to compensate for a foam topper?
  • A: It is often advisable to relax tensions so you don't compress the Foam, and to reduce the top tension so that the top thread can wrap to the back. Puffy Foam works best with designs that are digitized to compensate for the thickness of the Foam, but you can use Puffy Foam for many designs that are not specifically digitized for this. Do a test stitchout first, of course, to see how well it works. This is advisable for any design with or without Puffy Foam.
  • Q: What about working with foam directly on fabric versus a stabilizer for use as an applique? Are there any tips I need to know when working directly on the fabric?
  • A: It is important to stabilize well and appropriately, considering the fabric and the density of the stitching. It's always a good idea to do a small test sample first.
  • Q: What type of needles are best to use with foam? Sharp? Universal? Ballpoint? Should I be concerned with holes left in the foam made by the needle type?
  • A: Use the needle type best suited to your base fabric. All needle types will suitably perforate Puffy Foam.
  • Q: Do you recommend testing a design first?
  • A: Always a good idea.
  • Q: What should I look for when testing designs for a Puffy Foam application?
  • A: A nice finished look. If any "pokies" remain when the Puffy Foam is pulled away, use a hair dryer or hold a steam iron above the foam and shoot it with steam to make them shrink inside the stitching.
  • Q: What tips do you have for laundry care of an item that has foam stitched into the design? Washer and dryer or hang to dry?
  • A: It is non-toxic, water-resistant and machine washable (machine dry on low temperature), but it is flammable and cannot be dry-cleaned.
  • Q: Does the foam shrink when exposed to heat?
  • A: Minimally....see above.
The above information is taken from the book, Sulky Secrets for Successful Stabilizing #900B-11.

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Last modified: October 13 2008.