Stitch Tip: How to Choose the Right Embroidery Stabilizer

Stitch It International
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

By Lacey Stephens, Supplies Specialist

When it comes to embroidery projects, sometimes designs can be a hassle and just do not want to run properly. Some people don’t realize that the type of embroidery stabilizer you use can really make or break your order. If you are having design issues such as puckering, bunching, pooching or registration issues, it’s possible you are using the wrong type. Here are some tips to help you choose which kind you need.

When running garments, I suggest using cut away backing. If you use tear away, your logo will be scrunched up, and it will make your logo look wavy. If this doesn’t show immediately, it will after you wash the fabric. So even though it may look fine at first, when your customer receives the product and launders it, it will pucker and bunch, probably causing an unhappy customer. Using tear away improperly will also cause your design to run out of registration (outlines drifting). Try using two pieces of cut away backing with garments most times. If it’s a larger ounce count, such as 2.5 or 3.0, you can get away with one piece depending on the material. It needs to be a thicker material to do this. If you are working on athletic shirts, Action Back backing or Soft N’ Sheer work great. The Action Back will prevent drifting outlines and pooching. With the Soft N’ Sheer, you have flexible backing that doesn’t look stiff and you have the stability of a thicker cut, (Check out how to use Soft N’ Sheer backing in our Stitch Tip video here.) If you work at a faster production rate, try to order pre-cut bundles and make sure they are one inch larger than the hoop you are using. It is very important that when you are hooping your garment, you hoop all four corners of the backing into the hoop. If you don’t, the loose pieces can catch on your machine and un-hoop your garment while sewing or cause design issues. Make sure you are hooping everything nice and tight.

I suggest using one piece of tear away with thicker blankets, Carhartt jackets, or any material that is very structured. They carry some stability on their own and too much backing will cause thread or needle breakage. Use two pieces with knits, since they are softer and need the extra structure. Using the correct color of stabilizer to your material is also important. Nobody wants to see black backing behind a white shirt. Use black for darker fabrics, such as navy, black, or charcoal. If you are running a very simple design on these fabrics, use Pop Away backing. These are very convenient, leaves clean edges, and work great when you have a large order that needs to be done quickly. Try to remember if you are running a design with a large amount of stitches, to use a thicker stabilizer. I press this pretty hard because it can knot up your machine hook, ruin the garment or throw your machine out of time. This is important with satin stitches as well. You want these types of stitches to lay as flat as possible. If there is not enough stabilizer, these stitches will scrunch and bubble.

When sewing baby blankets or baby clothing, customers typically do not want to see the backing or have any of it hanging out. If you have a customer that has this request, you can use a wash away or a heat away like Thermogaze. When using a heat away you might have to adjust your stitch count slightly higher. This ensures that the stitches are secure after removing the base material. I would also recommend the Thermogaze for corduroy or velvet because you do not want to get these materials wet.

Embroidery for the most part is a learning experience through trial and error. Hopefully these tips can help your business off to a good start. Stabilizer in my opinion is one of the most important supplies for embroidery projects, next to thread. If you are not using a good quality backing such as Gunold or Hollingsworth and Vose, it’s possible to experience a lot of unnecessary problems that could be avoided. My goal is to help your projects run smoothly, hassle free, with the best quality you can have while saving time and money.

Embroidery Stabilizer Cheat Sheet

Download and print our Stabilizer Cheat Sheet here!

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