Essentials of Machine Embroidery Designs - Stabilizers

So now, we come to the third of the machine embroidery design essentials, namely the humble stabilizer. Humble, because not much attention is generally paid to it, but it again becomes an essential ingredient in the success of your machine embroidery design.

What is a stabilizer?

This is an added piece of fabric that will work along with your master fabric during the process of machine embroidery designing. The function of this fabric is to ensure that the design is successful by keeping the master fabric in its place. To avoid the puckering and slipping a backing should always be used. The fabric must be stabilized so that it can be embroidered well. A good stabilizer allows you to achieve proper fabric tension in the hoop. There are many types of stabilizers available in the market. Both light weights and heavy weights. Different stabilizers work better with different combinations of fabrics and threads. A stabilizer is needed for all types of machine embroidery.

Hooping the fabric in such a way so that the fabric will not move during the machine embroidery is a critical feature of the stabilizer. The correct stabilizer is determined by the fabric on which you embroider. An unstable fabric needs to be stabilized a great deal more during the process of embroidery. In general rule, with woven fabrics a non-adhesive tear away stabilizer is used. Lighter weight fabrics require additional layers or heavier weight stabilizers. If the end result is not satisfactory, one layer of the stabilizer must be hooped with the fabric. If the combination of fabric and stabilizer is too bulky to hoop entirely, strips of stabilizer can be cut that criss-cross the embroidery area and are long enough to allow the ends of the strips to be hooped with the fabric.

Iron-on tricot stabilizer on the wrong side of the knit fabric along with tear away criss-crossed can be used for good results. Materials hooped or placed on top of fabric. It provides a smooth surface so that the stitches can be laid down properly. Includes a variety of substances, such as plastic wrap, water-soluble “foil” and open-weave fabric that has been chemically treated to disintegrate with the application of heat. Also known as facing. We will now study the various types of the stabilizers.

Temporary Stabilizers

Tear-Away Stabilizers

Tear-Away stabilizer is available in several weights and can be used in single or double layers. It is used with medium to heavyweight fabrics and densely stitched embroidery designs. After completing the design, it can be torn away. It should be removed carefully in order to not disturb the stitches in the embroidery design. It is not recommended for delicate fabrics.

Iron-On Tear-Away

Iron on tear-away stabilizer is good for medium to heavyweight knit fabric. For best results when ironing on, avoid stretching the knit.

Adhesive-Backed Tear-Away

While using adhesive-Backed Tear-Away in your hoop, peel away the protective paper, then lay the fabric to be embroidered over the hoop and smooth in place. It works well for collar, velvets, napped fabrics and embroidering on baby bibs. Water soluble Stabilizer

Water soluble stabilizer is used for delicate, washable fabric It is made of a gelatin sheet that dissolves in warm water. For a terry fabric, place stabilizer top and bottom and place in hoop. Heat-Away® Stabilizer

Use this stabilizer for fabrics that can tolerate heat but can not be washed. This type is good for designs not dense enough for Tear-Away stabilizers.

Permanent Stabilizers

Cut-Away Stabilizers

Cut-Away stabilizer is meant to remain with the garment. After finishing the embroidery the extra part of this stabilizer can be removed. It washes well and is excellent for jobs where the stabilizer comes in contact with the skin, such as golf shirts or sweaters.

Poly-Mesh Cutaway

This is a woven and semitransparent stabilizer especially designed for extra stability on lightweight fabrics and knits. Unlike regular Cut-Aways This will not show through white garments.


This is an extra puffy permanent stabilizer which is mostly used for an applique design to give it an extra raised or quilted look.

Fusible Cut-Away

This is an iron-on Cut-Away stabilizer, which is soft, lightweight and can be washed well. This permanent stabilizer is used on knits and unstable stretchy fabrics.

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