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Understanding Stablizers

Embroidery stabilizer is often very confusing, in this blog we hope to enlighten you and help you understand why we use backing and why one doesn't one type work for all garments. Please note backing comes in all shapes and size, from rolls, to cut sheets and may be available in Black for dark fabrics too. When it comes to selecting the type of backing to use for a application its good to know a little about why you should use a certain type of backing. We will try and cover this. There are several factors that you will need to consider when making a choice on which backing to use, the garment fabric, stitch density, color of the garment, color of the design, special consideration like for a jacket back or heavy design or whether it has small text and how much will the design be laundered. These are all factors, that should impact your decision on what type of backing to use.

Below is a chart I like that explains the Elasticity of types of fabrics,

Stablizer embroidery table with elasticity types

The higher the stretch often means you should be using a very stable fabric, and or underlay type, usually the backing works hand in hand with the underlay of the design and the compensation. Here is a visual that just changing the backing type will impact how a design will take when being sewn on a loose knitted fabric.(Tearaway Backing).

The embroidery design would be greatly improved if underlay was used in addition to 2 pcs of tearaway, and a bit more density.

No Show Backing - Another factor that is rarely talked about is how translucent the fabric is, If you fabric is a light colored garment you may want to opt for a No show type cutaway backing as some backing you will see through the shirt. I always keep some no show on hand for when embroidering on a beige knitted shirt, as cutaway will otter show through and no show cutaway works the same with out showing through.

Fusible Backing

Another type of backing which is not used often enough is fusible backing this is great for applications where its hard to hoop and item, like belt, napkin corner , patches and is also known as sticky backing. I use this on fabric where I am hooping half of a garment like tuque. Once its down being embroidered it can be torn away just like Tearaway.

Cut-away Backing

I tend to use this on material that either stretch a lot , or are laundered a lot as it helps the embroidery designs hold it shape. I will also use cutaway when sewing a heavy design or in an application where the backing will not been seen, like inside an embroidery pocket on a jacket, or for a large jacket back. Here are some other material I will use Cutaway.

  • Loose knit fabrics
  • Fine knit fabrics
  • Golf jerseys
  • Knit golf shirts
  • Lightweight woven silks
  • Wool / acrylic sweaters
  • Bathing suits / Lycra / Spandex

Tear-away Backing

I often use Tearaway its my personal favorite, however you will need to look at the application before deciding if it can be used. I often will double up on the number of sheet. Remember that tearaway removes cleanly from the embroidery design.

    Photos with stablizers embroidery samples

    • Towels
    • Hats
    • Cotton / polyester
    • Corduroy
    • Sheets
    • Nylon satin jackets
    • Leather or vinyl


    Wash away Backing

    This I only started using when I started working with a boring tool for my machine, it allows me to do cut work, But I have started experimenting with free standing lace , great for ornaments and decorative embroidery designs.

    • Free standing ace
    • Cut work designs
    • Reverse applique

    Wash away Topping

    This I use when ever the garment or application calls for it, if the pile is high on a garment where the pressure foot might catch a strand of the thread from the garment I will use it , also provide the top stitch more stabilization. There are many more types out there ,

    Pucker Resistant Backing

    This is fairly new but its like a fibre backing, it a man made backing where the horizontal and vertical support is the same. This backing also comes in black, its expensive but it helps reduce puckering. Also use the smallest needle when stitching on fabrics that pucker.

    Stabilizer Review

    In embroidery there are always going to be variables, try different backing types from different vendors or manufactures, you will find that the support various, and their several thickness and colors as well. Backing will always be dependent on the design, needle, the size of the hoop, the fabric.

    There is no right way or wrong way, only the way that works for you..

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