Five Must Have Stabilizers for Machine Embroidery

Updated: Aug 23

Don’t do what I did!

Don’t spend heaps of money on 50 different stabilizers you think you might need or you think sound cool, just to find out you will never use them. I have the 5 stabilizer staples that can get you through the vast majority of your projects

This blog post was updated on August 22, 2022

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Photo Credit: OESD

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I love to be prepared so I thought “But I’ll use it all eventually so I will just keep accumulating stabilizers!” but there a lot of it sits, for no reason.

Now, having said that. If you wanna grab this Complete Stabilizer Set, I think that’s a great idea.

First off, they are project rolls so they are just enough of each stabilizer for you to use for a project or two. This means you won’t get stuck with a ridiculous amount of a random stabilizer.

Second, I believe the best way to learn is to play around and having so many stabilizers on hand is the best way to be able play around whenever ya feel like it.

Anyway! If you’re not into the Complete Stabilizer Set and wanna save your money for designs and fabrics, then let’s start out with these 5 must have stabilizers for machine embroidery…

Ultra Clean and Tear

Tear away stabilizer is sewing room staple, not only for embroidery but also for sewing and quilting. I use Ultra Clean and Tear to stabilize decorative stitches (yes! You do need to do that), stabilize button holes and, most impressively, to print out my foundation paper piecing designs.

This stabilizer is super easy to remove (hint: It just tears away) and is best when used with woven or non-stretch fabrics and will disintegrate completely in the washer (see why it’s so great for foundations paper piecing?) It can be hooped with your project or added underneath your hoop with tape (a technique called ‘floating’) to add stabilization. This stabilizer is great for medium to high stitch count designs when no permanent backing is desired.

Note: Don’t do foundation paper piecing? If you are strictly using the Ultra Clean and Tear for embroidery/sewing, meaning no plans on using it for foundation paper piecing, then check out Ultra Clean and Tear fusible. It creates a temporary fuse which makes keeping the stabilizer in place super easy during hooping or sewing really simple.

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Click here to learn more about my online class Stabilizer School.

Medium Weight Cut Away

Cutaway stabilizers will stay with your fabric wash after wash, meaning they will stay supporting your stitches for years to come. I love a medium weight cutaway because it’s so straight forward for a beginner; just about anything can be stabilized with it and look great. You can purchase a heavy weight cutaway if that’s all you can find but I highly recommend a medium weight because you can layer it to create a heavier weight stabilizer.

Though cutaway can be used on just about any fabric, cutaway is a must for your knits and other stretch fabrics to keep your stitches supported and your designs from distorting as the fabric stretches.

Whether you’re stitching jeans, a sweater or not sure what you should stabilize that pillow with? Medium Weight Cut Away is there for ya.

Click here to buy Medium Weight Cut Away

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Click here to check out the Stabilizer Guide

StabilStick Cut Away or Tear Away

This paper backed sticky stabilizer is great for items that are hard to hoop or can’t be hooped like napkin corners, thick towels, velvet, and shirt collars. Most of us get into machine embroidery with dreams of monogrammed towels and decorative napkins in our minds, making this stabilizer a staple.

Stabilstick comes in cutaway and a tearaway. It’s great to have both in your sewing room but if you’d like to keep it to a minimum to start (I get it! That’s the point of the post!) then you need to decide:

Are you more interested in embroidering jeans, stretchy fabric and knits? Click here to get the cut away.

Are you more interested in embroidering collars, napkin corners and towels? Click here to get the tear away.

For a more detailed break down of when to use cut away vs tear away check out my virtual class Stabilizer School (more on that in a little)

Fusible Woven

Ask any machine embroiderer and they will tell you: fusible woven is king.

Fusible woven is a woven stabilizer that will fuse to your fabric, keeping the weave of your fabric in place and will help prevent wrinkles and puckers. It adds great body to your fabric, it can be layered with other stabilizers, it’s the key to a professional finish.

Whether I am working on a quilt, a pillow or multi-hooped wall hanging, fusible woven is my go to. Fusible woven can be removed from your project with heat but I tend to use it as a permanent backing, so I like to stabilize my whole piece of fabric that is going into the project.

Example: If you are doing a 3″ x 5″ embroidery design on a 18″ x 18″ pillow, I will put the fusible woven on the whole 18″ square to essentially use the fusible woven as an interfacing in my pillow. I love the body it gives my fabric!

Click here to buy Fusible Woven

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StitcH20 Wash Away Topper

This is a specialty item I wish I had put in my stash sooner!

Water soluble topper goes on top of your project (unlike how stabilizer backs your product) to ensure your stitches stay on top of your fabric and don’t sink in. From felt to terry cloth towels to toilet paper, water soluble topper is really effective at getting you a professional finish on your project.

I used it when I embroidered toilet paper so the perforation and edges didn’t get caught on the foot and tear the paper to bits.

I like OESD’s StitcH20 because it has one side with a texture so it doesn’t get stuck on the foot.

When it’s time to remove your water soluble topper you will tear along your design (just like we do with tear away stabilizer) to remove the excess stabilizer then you can use a wet cloth to dab away any remaining stabilizer. (Which I obviously did NOT do with the toiler paper)

Click here to buy StitcH20 Wash Away

Whatcha think? Not a bad shopping list right?

From here you can grow your stabilizer collection based on individual needs for a project. Later on you may want some water soluble mesh stabilizer to make Free standing lace mistletoe or maybe some paper backed fusible web for your beautiful machine or embroidery applique pieces…but there’s no need to buy those until you’re ready to use them!

If stabilizer feels overwhelming for you then have the perfect class for you

Click here to learn more about my online class Stabilizer School.

You can keep this class forever, watch it as much as you need and never feel intimidated by machine embroidery stabilizers again.

This course helps you learn the a-z of machine embroidery stabilizers so you can understand what they are, how they are categorized and when to use the various types of stabilizer. I even teach you my exclusive 5 step method to choosing the perfect stabilizer every time!

Learn more about Stabilizer School here.

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