Five Must Have Stabilizers for Machine Embroidery

Updated: May 30


Photo Credit: OESD

Don't do what I did!

Don't spend heaps of money on 50 different stabilizers you think you might need but will never use. I have the 5 stabilizer staples that can get you through the vast majority of your projects


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. So let's save your money for the designs and the fabrics and just start out with these 5 must have stabilizers for machine embroidery...



Medium Weight Tear Away

Tear away stabilizer is a fantastic addition to your sewing room not only for embroidery but also for everyday sewing. I use medium weight tear away stabilize decorative stitches (yes! You do need to do that), stabilize button holes and to print out my foundation paper piecing designs.



Tear away stabilizers are easy to remove (hint: It just tears away), are best when used with woven or non-stretch fabrics and will disintegrate completely in the washer. 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.




Heavy 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 heavy 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 medium weight cutaway if that's all you can find but I highly recommend a heavy weight because it will support more stitches in a design.



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? Heavy Weight Cut Away is there for ya.



Sticky backed 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, tongues of shoes and collars. Most of us get into machine embroidery with dreams of monogrammed towels and decorative napkins in our minds, making this stabilizer a staple for the sewing room.

Sticky backed stabilizer 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? Get the cut away.

Are you more interested in embroidering collars, napkin corners and woven fabrics? Get the tear away.


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 stabilizer, keeping the weave of your fabric in place and stopping any gapping between your fabric and stabilizer. 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 will not be removed from your project, it is 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!



Water Soluble 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 our stabilizer backs our 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 on my toilet paper embroidery so the perforation and edges didn't get caught 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.



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 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 nuy those until you're ready to use them!


You can join the Facebook group to check out the replay of my FB live where I talked all about this post and answered questions from Tough Kitten Crafts Facebook Group Members!



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Hello I'm Kate! I'm livin' in Orlando spending my free time knitting, Netflixin' and wandering around Disney World. I'm here to help you ditch machine embroidery fear, fret and failure to become the machine embroidery genius you are meant to be!