Friday, March 30, 2012

Embroidery Stabilizers

I am by no means an embroidery stabilizer expert, however, I do a lot of embroidery and I can think of only a select few times where I wish I had used a different stabilizer. I stick with just a couple of brands and I hope that maybe you’ll learn something. I know there are many, many ways to stabilize, this is just what I do.

Basically, you need three types in your sewing room at all times—one for stretchy fabrics and one for woven fabrics and for napped fabrics.DSC_0343 copy

For stretchy fabrics I use PolyMesh by OESD. OESD is Bernina’s company and since I am a Bernina user and I’m always at the Bernina shop, that’s the brand I use. And I love it! I keep a roll of black (for dark tshirts) and a roll of white in my stash at all times. I use these for t-shirts or anything else that might stretch like jeans. It’s a cut away stabilizer which means just that. You cut away the excess when it is done stitching, as seen below:


And because this would be itchy on my daughter’s skin I like to iron on a a soft meshy cover called Gentle Touch Embroidery Cover Up. This is optional, but it covers all the itchies. For babies I would absolutely do this step. Here’s how it looks after the Gentle Touch is ironed on:


Cute huh? This my Winter Owl applique. All of my owl appliqués are found here.


Alright that’s enough about stretchy fabrics. Now onto the second stabilizer I always keep on hand. It’s also by OESD and it’s called Ultra Clean and  Tear. It tears away like a soft tissue and it’s so very, very nice. However, it you embroider a lot, it will get expensive. And if you are embroidering on mainly pillows or other items that do not need to be “soft” underneath the embroidered fabric, then I use Stitch and Tear. It’s cheap, and yes, it’s thick and crappy. But it does a fantastic job. It’s just not as fun to tear away as the Ultra Clean and Tear. And notice the price? $1.99 yard and with a 50% coupon at Joann that’s $1 a yard. You can’t beat that. I buy an entire 15 yard bolt with a coupon.  As you can see, I am all out right now!


Now here’s another shortcut, I patch my stabilizer. It’s wicked and sinful but guess what, I’ve never had a problem and it stretches your dollar even more. Here’s how I patch:

When I’m done with a piece of stabilizer I carefully tear out just the used middle and then I save this piece for my next project.


And then I only need a smaller piece to fill in that hole. It saves several inches and that means less waste goes in the garbage can.


Just use some adhesive spray and then rehoop.


See? My scribbled roses (modified version) turned out just fine with the cheapskate patch method. No problemo!

DSC_0227 copy

If you want to make badges like these buttonhole flowers then stick to two layers of Ultra Clean and Tear or two layers of Stitch and Tear. You’ll actually have to cut away the Stitch and Tear as it doesn’t tear very ‘clean’. You can find a tutorial on these patches by clicking here.

buttonhole flowers and hearts (14)

buttonhole flowers and hearts (6)

And those are the essentials. Now if you are going to do really lightweight embroidery, something that just your sewing machine is able to do, like simple lines or redwork, you can use a wash away, or you can just stick with the tear away as mentioned above. (See first photo in this post.) I would only use a wash away on something simple like redwork.

Wash away would be fine for the main stabilizer on this turtle on a woven fabric:

turtles (2) 

Or as the main stabilizer on this skirt which has the Linked Rings design:

linked rings

The other time you would use wash away stabilizer is as a secondary stabilizer on top of a “napped” fabric like corduroy, towels, or pique knit—something that is bumpy or has a pile. You would use your regular stabilizer underneath (either tear away or cut away)  and then the Wash Away on top. That is exactly what I did on this pink bib as the bib was made of terrycloth. It’s embroidered with my Edwardian Script. By the way, these bibs are purchased here, love them!

edwardian script 2

There is more to say about stabilizers, but these are the basics. You need one for stretchy (cut away), one for woven fabrics (tear away) and one for napped fabrics. Happy Stitching! If you like any of the designs pictured here, please visit my website at

cynthia logo


QuiltingCyclist said...

Thanks so much. I really need this!

Anonymous said...

Love this post and I'm hoping it makes my stitch out of a design for my wedding photographer onto bibs look better! Funny I was just scrolling through your blog and realized I'd peaked at it before from a link when you posted about your daughters surgery and recovery. Being a PICU nurse it caught my eye. Little did I know that fast forward my husband would agree that I "needed" a 830 and your designs would be the first I bought to try out that new jumbo hoop!!!! Thanks for the inspiration as I discover the wonders of my new machine in-between night shifts to pay for all the creative endeavors! Just bought your circle border design to show my mom what my new baby can do next week at a retreat!

Olivia john said...

I really need this post,thank you.
Embroidery designs


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