- Water soluble stabilizers dissolve away when moistened and are especially useful for stitching high pile fabrics such as terry cloth and velvet because they keep the stitches from sinking into the pile. Soluble stabilizers can also be used to embroider lacework and cutwork patterns. Soluble stabilizers can be either translucent sheets resembling thin plastic or in paper form. One neat product is Sulky Paper Solvy which comes in 8.5" x 11" sheets that you can run through a printer and print a pattern to stitch.
- Heat soluble stabilizers dissolve when exposed to heat and are a good choice for fabrics that are too delicate and/or too lightweight for either a cut away or tear away stabilizer and for using on non-washable textiles. Heat soluble stabilizers come in a translucent film type that resembles plastic and also in a woven form. When heated, the plastic film version shrivels up and melts away while the woven version turns brown and crumbles away. If using the woven stabilizer, be sure to use a dry iron because the chemical that causes the woven type to dissolve can sometimes be transferred to the fabric facing it when exposed to moisture and cause the fabric itself to dissolve when exposed to heat.
To become familiar with the features and properties of the various stabilizers, it is important to experiment and make test samples combining different fabrics, stabilizer types and embroidery patterns. Take an afternoon and play around with the options. Be sure to keep the samples and label them so you can refer back to them later to see what worked and didn't work. I keep all of my stitching samples and notes in a notebook, placing them inside plastic page protectors to keep them clean and visible.
Learn more about machine embroidery with these books: