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The Importance of Stabilizers

by angus koolbreeze


Never underestimate the importance of a high-quality embroidery stabilizer. It is the foundation piece of the piece of embroidery you are making, and as such, it can make your embroidery project look like a piece that could be sold, or make it look unprofessional. It is very important that you choose a material that best creates the base to support the kind of stitches you are using in your design.

Choosing the Correct Stabilizer

In most stablizer packs is a sample pack that you can use to perform a test. If your local embroidery store doesn’t have such a trial kit, ask the company to order a stabilizer pack that comes with one. Moreover, as the Crafty.com website points out, these sample stabilizer packs come with descriptions and recommendations on how to use. For once you are able to see the different stabilizers on different embroidery materials and designs, it will be easier to determine which type of stabilizer will go best with your project.

Types of Stabilizers

There are four types of stabilizers. According to expert Jill McCloy, they are named for the way they are removed from the fabric once the embroidery is finished. That being said, keep in mind that in embroidery, you can choose to remove the stabilizer, or keep it on as part of the fabric. Yet because most of the time they are removed from the fabric, they take the name according to how they are taken off. There is the tearaway kind of stabilizer, which is a paper-like stabilizer that comes in different types of textures, ranging from very soft to extremely crisp. Cutaway stabilizer is usually non-woven, but it also comes in the woven variety, such as nylon mesh. Washaway stabilizer comes in two types–mesh and plastic. As the name suggests, when you put water on it, it washes off completely. Heataway is so named because you can remove it by applying a dry iron to the stabilizer.

Washaway stabilizer is designed to dissolve in water. You can use it underneath the fabric, but also above it to keep the stitches in place, because, as McCloy suggests, in embroidery the fabric does sometimes have a tendency to sink. That is not something you want to happen, because it will cause your project to look unprofessional. It is best for use on the delicate and mesh-like fabrics, and also on cutwork and embroidered appliques, she points out.

Heataway should be your top choice if the material you are using for your embroidery project is extremely sensitive–too delicate for tearaway to be appropriate, and too sheer for you to use a cutaway stabilizer. It is completely removable with an iron. But be cautious of how you are using the iron. Be especially careful about using steam.

Use the tearaway type of stabilizer when your embroidery project is of the firmly woven or natural fiber kind, as McCloy points out. Keep in mind that tearaway is meant to be permanent, as I stated earlier, except for trimming the edges

According to McCloy, you should choose the cutaway kind if you have knitted fabrics. It is permanent. It stays on to keep the embroidery stable during and after the project is done. If it is necessary to cut some of the edges away, it’s best to use only a special type of scissors, namely embroidery scissors.


Choosing the right stabilizer for the right embroidery project, like other aspects of embroidery, requires being able to use your eyes, but also a lot of practice. So don’t be discouraged if you make mistakes in the beginning, because that is how you learn the craft. After a while, you will build the confidence necessary to produce beautiful, professional-looking embroider. And indeed, learning to choose the right stabilizer is one aspect of mastering this art.


You can see the stabilizers available for sale on DesignsBySiCK by clicking here.




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