Top 15 Stabilizer Tips for Machine Embroidery

Proper stabilizing is critical to successful machine embroidery. Read on to learn more about the four basic stabilizer types: water-soluble and heat-removable stabilizers (often used as toppers), cut-away and tear-away stabilizers (often attached to the fabric wrong side as a backing) and a variety of helpful stabilizer tricks.workingwithstabilizer 1 Top 15 Stabilizer Tips for Machine Embroidery

1. Prevent the stitching from sinking into the fabric pile, such as that on corduroy, knit and other napped fabrics, by using a topper. Toppers can help achieve a crisper, cleaner stitch.

2. Never, under any circumstances, iron water-soluble stabilizer. The heat causes it to shrink and stiffen, making it nearly impossible to remove.

3. To determine if water-soluble stabilizer is completely removed from a design, gently rub the embroidery area between two fingers. If they’re clean and don’t stick together, then the stabilizer has been removed. If not, refill the tub with fresh water and repeat the submerging and rinsing steps.

4. When smocking, use water-soluble adhesive stabilizer to secure the pleats. Embroider the chosen design over the pleats. Wash away the stabilizer completely, leaving no residue. When embroidering knit, combine water-soluble adhesive stabilizer with lightweight cut-away stabilizer. Wash away the water-soluble stabilizer after the embroidery is complete, leaving the cut-away stabilizer behind to support the stitches.

5. Dipping completed embroidered pieces in water is often awkward, and spraying to remove water-soluble stabilizer is messy. Use a damp cotton swab around the design or fill an empty roll-on deodorant container with water and use it to remove water-soluble stabilizer. {ART: pick up photo from 1310 Tips & Tricks.}

6. When embroidering towels, use a heat-removable topper, which is easily removed using a cool iron. Water-soluble toppers often allow fabric loops to appear in and around the design after subsequent washings. Heat-removable remains beneath the design, providing a permanent barrier between the towel and embroidery.

7. Keep a stash of both cut-away and tear-away stabilizers on hand. Tear-away stabilizer is often used in combination with cut-away to ensure enough stabilization. After hooping the fabric with a cut-away variety, slide a tear-away type under the hoop while it’s on the machine.

8. Most woven fabrics are already sturdy, therefore a tear-away stabilizer is suitable. For a dense design on woven fabric, use a heavier weight fabric-type stabilizer and fuse it onto the fabric before embroidery.

9. Use several layers of lightweight tear-away stabilizer when stitching delicate designs. After the design is complete, gently tear away the layers one at a time to avoid disturbing delicate stitches.

10. Most knit fabrics require extra support during and after the embroidery process, so use a cut-away stabilizer. For a lightweight design on a knit fabric, consider a mesh cut-away variety. For a denser design, use a mediumweight cut-away type. The heavier the fabric, the heavier weight stabilizer is required. However, never use a stabilizer that’s a heavier weight than the fabric.

11. Choose a cut-away stabilizer when embroidering denim jeans. The design needs extra support to withstand multiple washings and repeated wear. To perfectly align jean seams after embroidery, adhere double-sided water-soluble stabilizer to each seam allowance along the right side. The stabilizer secures the seams, making it easy to stitch along the original stitching line, and then the stabilizer completely rinses away.

12. To cover scratchy embroidery, apply fusible mesh stabilizer to the embroidery wrong side once the embroidery is complete.

13. Cut fusible adhesive stabilizer scraps into 1”-wide strips by the stabilizer length and as long as possible. Use the strips as basting tape to secure fabric layers when stitching machine embroidered appliqués.

14. After completing an embroidery project, cut away as much of the stabilizer as possible and keep it. Store scraps by size; use small scraps when embroidering names, initials and decorative stitches, and medium scraps for logos and large monograms.

15. Stabilizer dulls sharp scissors quickly, so designate one pair for only stabilizer.

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6 Responses to Top 15 Stabilizer Tips for Machine Embroidery

  1. Margaret Bambury says:

    U say not to iron water soluble stabilizer. What about fusible water soluble? U have to iron it on to fuse it. Right?

  2. Enjoyed the stabilizer, I enjoy reading each issue cover to cover.

  3. Linda Himmel says:

    Very interesting thanks

  4. Molly P says:

    I am a sewing, embroidery and software educator at Expert Sewing Center in Port Charlotte, FL. I love everything you said here. Spot on!

  5. Alice Kowalski says:

    Where do you find roll-on deodorant containers anymore?

  6. Jill says:

    It it is a fusible water-soluble stabilizer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions is the best way to go. Some you can iron, some you can’t.

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