Stabilizer is the unsung hero of machine embroidery.
It hides on the back of our fabric, and sometimes we
take great pains to minimize its appearance in finished
projects -- but without it, the chances that our
embroidery would turn out looking great are pretty slim
indeed. The fabrics hanging in your closet and wrapped
around bolts at the fabric store weren't designed with
supporting embroidery in mind; it's up to the stabilizer
to provide a bit of help. Hey, we could all use some
support every now and then!
The main types of stabilizer available are
cutaway, tearaway, and
water-soluble (and water-soluble's cousin
heat-away). Many different brands and weights of each
type are available. The suitability of the match between
embroidery designs, fabric, and stabilizer can make or
break a project. Below we'll take a look at each type
and when you might want to use it.
But first, a couple notes:
The recommendations you see here might differ from what
you've seen elsewhere -- opinions seem to vary on
matters of stabilizer. This is what we've found creates
the best results with Urban Threads designs. If you're
doing something different and you like the results
you're getting, rock on! But if you're running into
trouble, give them a try -- perhaps they'll help.
These are very general tips; they don't specifically
address every fabric/design/stabilizer in existence.
Think of them as guidelines to help you make good
matches beween designs, fabric, and stabilizer. There
are always going to be judgment calls involved. As
always, embroidery is both art and science.
Relatedly: experiment, experiment, experiment! If you're
working with a fabric/design/stabilizer combo you're
unsure about, give it a test run before using it on your