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Stabilizers for Embroidery

Back when I first learned to sew, embroidery machines were not accessible to home sewers, but in the last twenty years, they have come down substantially in price and have become more user friendly. Now machines come with software that allows the user to customize their designs and downloadable patterns are readily available making embroidery machines a popular and frequently seen item in the sewing room.

Even though an embroidery machine does most of the work on its own, it is essential to properly stabilize your fabric so that it does not give way while it is being stitched and become puckered or otherwise distorted. Stabilizers, when used correctly, will give your machine embroidery a more professional and finished look. Fabric stabilizers can be purchased at fabric and sewing machine stores as well as on-line.

There are many types of stabilizers so it can sometimes be difficult to decide which one you need to use for your specific application. By understanding the characteristics of individual stabilizer types, you will be able to better select which one you need. There are several factors to consider: fabric weight and weave, and stitch density of the embroidery design. More densely embroidered designs require the greater support provided by heavier stabilizers.

Fabric stabilizers are first classified by whether they are permanent or temporary. Permanent stabilizers remain in place under the stitching with the excess being removed after stitching. This type of stabilizer is often seen on embroidered sweatshirts and t-shirts and is called "cut-away" stabilizer because it is cut away after stitching. It is available in different weights to match the weight of the fabric and embroidery that it will support. Examples of lightweight cut-away products are Sulky Soft & Sheer Cut-Away or OESD's Poly-Mesh. Sulky Cut-Away Plus is a heavier weight stabilizer, appropriate for dense embroidery on heavier weight fabric. When the project is complete, trim the stabilizer away from the stitches carefully. Appliqué scissors can make this job easier.

Temporary stabilizers are removed after stitching is completed and are classified by the removal method.

Click to learn more about embroidery stabilizer types.

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