The phenomenal popularity of machine embroidery has given rise to many new brands of stabilizers coming to market and the task of sorting them all out can be daunting. But there are still only a few basic types and they are all designed to support the fabric while the embroidery machine stitches the designs, helping to prevent puckering and bunching of the stitches.
Stabilizers or backings can be permanent or temporary. Excess permanent backings are removed by cutting around the design after embroidering and are made to be laundered with the garment. Temporary backings are removed after the design is done.
Use this table as a starting point for selecting the right stabilizer for your project.
Knits, loosely wovens
Light to heavy weights
Meant to remain with the garment; not removed, except for cutting away excess.
Used by professionals. Washes well and is excellent for jobs where the stabilizer comes in contact with the skin, golf shirts and sweaters for instance.
Designed specifically for extra stability on lightweight fabrics and knits
Semi-transparent. Will not show through white garments.
Firmly woven, natural-fiber fabrics
Light to heavy weights, fusible and nonfusible
Can be used in single or double layers. Use with medium to heavyweight fabrics and densely stitched embroidery designs. After stitching it is carefully torn away, it can be torn away. Not recommended for delicate fabrics or sweaters.
Medium to heavyweight knit fabric
Sheets & rolls
Avoid stretching the knit when ironing on.
Ideal for small collar areas, velvets, napped fabrics, patch blanks and baby bibs and items
Sheets & rolls
Nonwashable, delicate fabrics that can tolerate heat and for off-the-edge stitching techniques
Woven sheets, plastic film
Completely removable with iron and caution. Good for designs not dense enough for Tear-Away.
Delicate, mesh-like washable fabrics and high pile fabrics such as terry. Also cutwork and appliques.
Plastic film, paper sheets, brush-on or sprayable liquid
Dissolves completely in warm water.