Tips for Machine Embroidery Stabilizers

Beautiful machine embroidery results begin with choosing the right stabilizer for your project. Stabilizer – like its name suggests – stabilizes the fabric and keeps it from moving, puckering or stretching while embroidering. Stabilizer is the foundation for a successful embroidery project, so let’s learn more about it.

Hooping Tips:

Always hoop stabilizer with the fabric wherever possible. It is helpful to use temporary spray adhesive to adhere the stabilizer to the fabric for securing the pieces while hooping. Remember to make sure both the fabric and stabilizer are flat and smooth, but not stretched, in the hoop.

We recommend OESD stabilizers as they do not stretch in any direction, ensuring good quality embroidery, even on knits. OESD stabilizers offer high quality, consistency and versatility for a variety of projects. OESD stabilizers can be purchased online from OESD.

Many types of stabilizers are available, so how do you know which one to choose?

There are four types of stabilizer:

  • Cut-away stabilizer is used for stretchy fabrics.
  • Tear-away stabilizer is used for stable fabrics.
  • Wash-away stabilizer is used for freestanding lace and napped fabrics.
  • Adhesive-backed stabilizer is used for hard to hoop items.

 

Cut-Away Stabilizer:

Cut-Away Stabilizer is the most common stabilizer and is used for any fabric that has a stretch to it. Knit fabrics, like those used for t-shirts, jerseys, polo shirts and golf shirts, require cut-away stabilizer. Use cut-away stabilizer for any fabric that is loosely woven, or that stretches like denim and twill, or that has Spandex or Lycra. Also included in this group is fleece, swimwear, sweaters, sweatshirts, fabrics on the bias, or if your embroidery design is very dense. Excess cut-away stabilizer, like its name suggests, is to be cut-away after embroidering.

Cut-away stabilizer is available in four different types:  Heavy, Medium, Polymesh and Fusible Polymesh.

  • Heavy Weight Cut-Away stabilizer comes in black or white and is used on knits and wovens, sweatshirts, or dense embroidery designs on any fabric.
  • Medium Weight Cut-Away stabilizer comes in white only and is used on medium weight stretchy fabrics. Medium weight does soften after washing.
  • PolyMesh Cut-Away is available in white, black, beige and one with a grid printed on it. Use this for light-colored fabrics to prevent that shadow effect behind the fabric. It is extra soft and doesn’t irritate the skin, so it is perfect for baby projects.PolyMesh Cut-Away is very strong and will keep your embroidery stitches looking good.
  • Fusible PolyMesh Cut-Away comes in white only. It is fused to the wrong side of the project. It is not permanent so the excess can be cut away.

 

Tear-Away Stabilizer:

Tear-Away Stabilizer is suitable for woven fabrics that have no stretch, such as quilt fabrics (100% cotton), poly/cotton fabrics, canvas, duck cloth, linen, vinyl, leather and towels. This type of stabilizer is gently torn “away” from the stitches not “into” the stitches. It is made for non-directional tearing, meaning that it will tear easily in any direction. Therefore, there is no need for criss-crossing the stabilizer when using multiple layers.

Tear-Away Stabilizer is available in several different types: Heavy, Medium, Light, Ultra Clean and Tear, and Fusible.

  • Heavy Weight Tear-Away comes in white only and easily supports stitch intensive designs, as it has a stiff, crisp texture giving extra support. It is ideal for stitching designs with a large open area in center of design.
  • Medium Weight Tear-Away comes in black only and is ideal for dark fabrics. It is easily removed.
  • Light Weight Tear-Away is available in white only, and is used on lightweight fabrics to stabilize low count stitch designs. It is very easy to remove and is great for printing onto for paper piecing quilt blocks.
  • Ultra Clean and Tear is available in white only and is a high quality, medium weight tear-away. It provides excellent stabilization for medium to high stitch count designs, and easily and cleanly tears away from the stitches.
  • Fusible Tear-Away is also available in white only. It is ironed to wrong side of fabric and easily tears away. It works for medium weight woven fabrics.

 

Wash-Away Stabilizer:

Wash-Away Stabilizer, as its name suggests, washes away from the fabric. Use it any time stabilizer needs to be completely removed, such as for freestanding lace, freestanding applique designs and cutwork. Another use of wash-away stabilizer is as a topper to keep stitches from sinking into the fabric.

Wash-Away Stabilizer is available in Aqua Film Topping, Aqua Film Backing, AquaMesh and BadgeMaster.

  • Aqua Film Topping is a lightweight topper used on top of napped or textured fabrics. It removes completely with lukewarm water.
  • Aqua Film Backing is a medium weight wash away used on sheer, lightweight and fine fabrics. Use it on top of napped or textured fabrics. It removes completely with lukewarm water.
  • AquaMesh Wash-Away is an opaque mesh water soluble stabilizer, perfect for freestanding lace and sheer or lightweight fabrics. It easily removes with lukewarm water.
  • BadgeMaster is a heavy weight water soluble stabilizer which is perfect for freestanding applique projects. Use it when all traces of stabilizer must be removed from the fabric. It rinses easily with lukewarm water.

 

Specialty Stabilizer:

OESD also offers a line of specialty stabilizers for projects or items that are difficult to hoop, like thick bath towels, gloves, socks, collar points, bags and ball caps.

Specialty stabilizers include Stabil-Stick cut-away, Stabil-Stick tear-away, Hydro-Stick tear-away and AquaMesh Plus wash-away.

  • Stabil-Stick Cut-Away is a high quality, medium weight stabilizer with a light adhesive coating. Use it on knits or stretchy fabrics, such as jeans, and hard to hoop items such as t-shirts, sweaters & slippery fabrics. It is ideal for projects that require multiple hoopings.
  • Stabil-Stick Tear-Away is a high quality medium weight with a light adhesive coating. Use it on hard to hoop items such as collars and napkin corners, and tightly woven and slippery fabrics with no stretch. It is ideal for projects that require multiple hoopings.
  • HydroStick Tear-Away is a lightweight tear away stabilizer with a starch based, water activated adhesive coating. Use it on hard to hoop, firmly woven items such as bath towels, napkins, ball caps & bulky items. It provides an extremely secure stitch out – item stays in place until you re-moisten the glue to remove it.
  • AquaMesh Plus Wash-Away is an opaque mesh, water soluble, pressure sensitive stabilizer that is used when embroidering hard to hoop items using low stitch count designs. It is ideal to use on sheer or lightweight fabrics, and rinses out easily with lukewarm water.

 

Storing Stabilizers:

Since most stabilizers look alike, store them in the original packaging or in clearly marked bags. Fusible and wash-away stabilizers tend to stiffen with exposure to the air, so they should be stored in sealed bags. OESD stabilizers are wrapped in cellophane with a paper label wrapped around the outside of stabilizer. After removing the cellophane wrapping, roll up the label and insert into the stabilizer roll.

We’ve covered a lot of stabilizer information. Sorting through all of your options is well worth the effort for successful embroidery. Got stabilizer questions? Contact our customer support at support@oesd.com.

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