What Machine Embroidery Stabilizers To Use & When

What Machine Embroidery Stabilizers To Use & When

Hi everyone and welcome to this week’s blog feature on machine embroidery stabilizers! My name is Lindsey Griffin and I am a part of the Creative Team at Anita Goodesign. One of the bits of knowledge I have picked up while stitching out our collections is what stabilizers to use and when. I hope you find the information you are looking for here on this week’s blog feature!

Hooping Machine Embroidery Stabilizers Correctly

Before we get into what stabilizers to use and when, I would like to take a second and mention that it is just as important to know HOW to use the stabilizers correctly. By this, I mean how to hoop it correctly in your embroidery hoop. When hooped correctly, your stabilizer should sound like a rubber band snapping when you flick the center. In other words, it should be as tight as possible.

Wash Away (water soluble) Stabilizer

Used with designs that we don’t want any excess stabilizer to exist throughout the entire design when finished.

wash away stabilizer

General Use: We prefer to use Wash Away (or water soluble) stabilizer for our cutwork, some free standing, and lace designs.

How to Identify: The texture of wash away is similar to No Show mesh, however, there are minor differences. Wash Away stabilizer usually has a dotted pattern throughout and will rip easily.

Tips & Tricks: If you are stitching out lace, or any free standing embroidery-only design onto Wash Away stabilizer, we suggest that you double up and use two layers. If it is very stitch intensive, consider 3 layers. If you are washing out the stabilizer for a design with multiple free standing pieces, you may want to consider throwing them in a mesh laundry bag and running a warm water wash cycle. After you have rinsed away the excess water soluble stabilizer from the design, be sure to lay the designs flat to dry.


Tear Away Machine Embroidery Stabilizer

Used with designs that we don’t want any excess stabilizer around the edges of the design.

Machine Embroidery Stabilizer, Tear Away

Tear Away Stabilizer

General Use: Also used on free standing projects, however, only use this if it’s ok that the stabilizer gets permanently trapped within the free standing project. A more common way of using this stabilizer is to hoop it along with any base material for embroidery designs that we intend to tear away the stabilizer from the design edge.

How to Identify: Tear Away stabilizer looks a lot like paper, however, it can vary in weight. If you are stitching something more stitch intensive, you should consider using a heavier weight rather than a lighter one. Also, keep in mind that since the Tear Away stabilizer remains under the stitching, you might want to consider a black stabilizer while using dark materials and a white stabilizer when using materials that are either lighter or darker.

Tips & Tricks: After removing the excess Tear Away stabilizer from a free standing design there may be small fibers along the edges of the design that remain. We use either one of two methods to remove these fuzzy fibers. You can either use a flame (from a candle) to singe the fuzzies away or color the fibers with any alcohol-based marker that matches the thread color.

No-Show Mesh Stabilizer

Used with designs that don’t need the excess stabilizer removed at the end.

No Show Mesh Machine Embroidery Stabilizers

General Use: We prefer to use No Show Mesh stabilizer for our quilt blocks, tapestries, and zipper bags. No Show Mesh is known for its stability while staying flexible enough to be used in projects that require assembly after an embroidery design is completed stitching.

How to Identify: It can look similar to Wash Away, however, when looking closely, you will notice small lines or dashes. To double check whether its Wash Away or No Show Mesh, try ripping it. If it doesn’t rip, then it is No Show Mesh stabilizer.

Tips & Tricks: There is also a fusible kind of No Show Mesh that has a shiny heat transfer side.


Sticky Back Machine Embroidery Stabilizer

Used when embroidering garments and other un-hoopable items.

Sticky Back Machine Embroidery Stabilizers

General Use: Essentially, you can use this interchangeably with Tear Away stabilizer, but its intended use is for un-hoopable items. For example, if you want to embroider on a shirt, you could use Sticky Back stabilizer to stick the shirt to the hooped stabilizer, rather than having to hoop the shirt along with the stabilizer.

How to Identify: Sticky Back stabilizer looks just like a sheet of sticker paper.

Tips & Tricks: An easy way of peeling back the sticker layer of the Sticky Back stabilizer is to score the top layer with a seam ripper. When sticking material onto the Sticky Back stabilizer, we prefer to add pins around the edge of the design area.

When to Increase Layers of Any Type of Machine Embroidery Stabilizer

Generally, when you have a large stitch count or if the embroidery is very dense, then you may want to consider adding extra layers of stabilizer to prevent pulling. If you are using multiple layers of either Tear Away or No Show mesh, you may want to apply temporary adhesive spray between layers to hold the layers in place.

And there you have it! Everything you need to know about machine embroidery stabilizers and when to use them. I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post. Don’t forget to check back next week for even more machine embroidery tips and tricks!

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