Embroidery Stabilizer: What Does It Do?

When I first started embroidering years ago, I would have told you that stabilizer was something that was used for sewing clothes if you had asked me what it was. Although I was unaware of its potential benefits for hand embroidery, that response would not have been incorrect! A brief summary of stabilizers that are useful for hand embroidery will be provided in this post.

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What Is Stabilizer for Embroidery?

A piece of material (such as paper, fiber, or water soluble material) called an embroidery stabilizer is applied to the back or top of fabric to increase its durability during embroidery or sewing.

There are numerous varieties, including water-soluble, fusible, cutaway, and tearaway. Each has a marginally different function, and which one you select often comes down to personal taste.

Additionally, stabilizers come in various weights based on the fragility of the material you are sewing on.

What Advantages Do Stabilizers Offer For Hand Embroidery?

If you’re concerned that hand embroidery will distort or pucker the fabric, stabilizer works wonders when used on more delicate or stretchy materials. It’s also very useful when you want to stitch a very detailed and intricate design or when tracing an embroidery pattern onto the fabric isn’t an option (e.g., when stitching on a hat).

Stabilizer Types

The purpose of the stabilizer, the kind of fabric you’re using, and the fact that it shouldn’t be too thick to hand embroider through are all important factors to take into account when selecting one! I have personally used all of the following stabilizers and have found them to be effective.

Tear Away and Stick Stabilizer

I suggest using a stick and tear-away stabilizer on stretchy fabrics. It has helped me keep the fabric from wrinkling under the tension of your stitches and adheres to the fabric really well. This type of stabilizer is applied to the back of the fabric that you are going to embroider because, although it doesn’t always come off completely, it will probably dissolve over time and after a few washes.

NOTE: I would not advise using this stabilizer if the fabric you’re using is thin and somewhat transparent, as some of the stabilizer may show through to the front of the fabric.

Stabilizers Soluble in Water

When you are finished with the embroidery, these stabilizers can be removed with water. They are available in rolls, similar to Sulky Solvy, and on paper sheets with adhesive on the back, similar to Sulky Stitch N Wash Away. In order to transfer and draw the pattern directly onto the stabilizer, I use these stabilizers on the front of the fabric.

Stabilizers Cutaway

Although I haven’t used them myself, cutaway stabilizers are meant for knit and stretchy materials. They are commonly used for sewing clothes and are designed to stay in one spot permanently.

Reusable Levelers

When ironed on, these stabilizers stick to the fabric. This is an additional kind of stabilizer for embroidery that stays on the back of the fabric once stitching is complete. These are not only an excellent option for sewing garments, but they can also be used to provide additional protection by covering the back of embroidered clothing.

I hope this post clarified the functions of an embroidery stabilizer and provided some inspiration for using one. Without a doubt, give it a try and see how you like it! I also came upon a fascinating article that you should read about alternatives to embroidery stabilizers.

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