|Frequently Asked Questions
Working on Delicate Fabrics
Embroidery on Knits
Embroidery on Towels
Stitching Designs on Caps
Tips for Using Tear-away Stabilizers
Water Soluble Stabilizers
Tips for Using Water Soluble Stabilizers
Cut-Aways vs Tear-Aways
Improve your hooping using Spray Adhesive
To Hoop or not to Hoop
Working on Delicate Fabrics
- If you are working on velvet, courdory, chiffon, organza, crepe, organdy, and other lightweight fabrics hoop them gently to avoid marks. The simplest way to protect the fabric is to place a buffer between it and the hoop. This buffer can be fabric, backing, or even tissue paper.
- Some reccommend you wrap the inner ring of your hoops for any embroidery on delicate fabrics. This will avoid snagging the goods, stops the fabric slipping and will cushion the fabric, avoiding a contact shine or deeper hoop impression. You can use bias binding or any soft gauze or tape for this.
- Alternatively, it is even better if you can avoid hooping the fabrics at all. Have a look at these tips on when to avoid hooping your fabric.
- Another option is to use a sticky backing. You place this in a large hoop and peel off the paper backing exposing the sticky side. Position your piece of fabric and press it onto the exposed area of the carrier.
- Another alternative backing is a wash-away stabilizer. To use this technique, hoop a piece of water-soluble topping both under and over the area to be stitched. When the project is completed, simply remove the topping and backing by rinsing the fabric.
Embroidery on Knits
Follow these steps to avoid puckers:
- Iron on or "sticky" stabilizer
- Hoop the fabric and attach the hoop.
- Insert a layer of cut-away stabilizer under the hoop if necessary
- When embroidering on sweat-shirting or any other fabric which is puffy on the right side there's the danger of losing your work. In other words it can sink into the pile of the fabric. One solution is to use a piece of wash-away "solvy" , dry cover up or melt-aways on top and remove it when you have finished.
Embroidery on Towels
- We suggest you use an iron-on stabilizer on the back of the towel to keep it stable (one of the papery ones that you can peel away afterwards is best). Then place a layer of Solvy (washaway plastic film) or Dry Cover Up on top of the towel and then hoop all of this together. Once the hoop is on the machine slide a piece of tear-away under the hoop and start stitching.
Stitching Designs on Caps
- We get lots of requests on how to do this, so here's the link to Hoop-it-All, a product that lets you embroider on baseball caps, sleeves, baby socks and more!
- There are a few excellent spray adhesives on the market which work very well and do not clog up your machine.
- The most common use for spray adhesive is for appliqué. If you have a paper, cardboard or even a plastic pattern for your applique, you can use spray adhesive to keep your pattern secure during cutting and placing. This allows you to spray the adhesive on the back of the pattern and place it on the right side of your fabric. You can also use a double sided fusing such as Vliesofix or Wonder Under.
- Spray adhesive can also be used to position garments or items that cannot be hooped. These can include caps, purses, bags, small items that are smaller than your smallest hoop.
If you are using film for the top of the fabric stabilizer spray the film itself so that it will peel off without leaving much sticky residue on the fabric.
Any time you are placing stabilizer on the top, or the side the embroidery is on, spray the adhesive on the stabilizer itself and not the fabric.
Experiment with several sprays as some are much more sticky than others and work well for different applications.
Look for spray adhesives that say 'repositionable'. There is no need to use the really expensive spray adhesives for most work.
If you are having trouble with the stabilizer coming apart from the fabric, you can try spraying both sides lightly and waiting from 15 seconds to 5 minutes before bonding the two pieces together.
Even if you are just spraying one side wait a little bit according to the product instructions, before bonding.
Always place the material you are going to spray on a towel so that you can wash it after a few uses, or inside an old shoe box to keep the spray glue from landing on areas you dont want it on.
At the end of your embroidery session or the end of the day be sure to turn the spray can upside down and spray to clean the spray tip – otherwise after a while it will clog and you can’t get it to spray again.
If the can of spray does clog set it aside for about a week and use another can. It will dry out and become useable again. Spray tips can be soaked in turpentine for cleaning if necessary.
To clean your hoops after they get a build-up of adhesive and lint use Goof-off or De-solv-it and a paper towel. These will remove the goo and not harm the hoops.
- Heat-away stabilizers are special heat dissolving stabilizers that either melt away or disintegrate and brush off when you apply heat with an iron. They can be used as either a topping between the fabric and embroidery design, or as a light weight backing. Choose a heat-away stabilizer when the fabric is too delicate for a tear-away, too sheer for a cut-away, isn't washable, or when you're working with a special technique like making lace at an edge. Heat-away stabilizers are perfect for Decorative Stitching, Monogramming, Battenburg Lace, Cutwork and Edges, Lace, Buttonholes, 3D Appliqué, Special Effects, Delicate Fabrics, and Corduroy and Velvet. It is great when used as a topping when embroidering on fabrics with pile, as only the excess is melted away with the iron. This means the hidden melt-away will remain permanently between the embroidery threads and your fabric. This stops the stitching from sinking into the embroidered item even after many washes.
- Heat-Away Brush Off Stabilizer - Heat-away may be used on either side of your fabric. It turns brown with the heat from your iron. It brushes away very easily. Sulky heat-away is easy to see through so you can trace designs on to it for easy stitching. Perfect for any project where wetting or tearing would cause distortion to stitches or damage to your base material. Because it is woven and firm, it is easy to stitch on when creating machine arts. The stabilizer is not compatible with liquids.
- Melt-Away or Embroidery Trick Film - Melt-away is also known as embroidery trick film. It is a plastic, perforated stabilizer that grips the fabric, and can be either torn or melted away. Melt-away has a rough surface that grips the material, preventing slippage when sewing on it. Melt-away is a transparent film that does not show through the fabric. It's easy to use, it doesn't pucker, doesn't shrink and won't change the colour of your fabrics. It is only 0.07 thick, which allows the fabric to fall naturally without a heavy appearance when used as a stabilizer. When using meltaway as a backing you don't always need to iron the residue, simply tearaway as you would with a tearaway backing and leave in place. Melt-away can be easily removed or melted away with an ordinary non-teflon household iron - 120o C/230o F. Unlike heat-away, you MUST use brown paper between the iron surface and the melt-away plastic. The brown paper can be re-used as the melt-away will peel off the paper.
- Heat-Away Stabilizers vs Water Soluble Stabilizers - Heat dissolvable stabilizers are used where wetting or tearing would cause distortion to stitches or damage to the base material. They will disintegrate with a hot iron making it ideal for delicate embroidery and with tulle for machine embroidered lace. They can be used on top of fabrics, which should not be wetted, like corduroy or velvet to stop the embroidery design stitches from sinking into the pile and getting lost. When using heat-away stabilizers, parts of the stabilizer may be left on your project, as only the stabilizer with the direct heat applied to it will disappear. Wash-away stabilizers will completely disappear from your project when wet so are better for freestanding lace projects.
- Tear-away stabilizer - is designed for general machine embroidery and is suitable for most fabrics. It will tear away from your project once the embroidery is completed. Tear-away is quick and easy to use and popular for many different types of projects. It comes in various different weights and is available from many different suppliers. You can use one layer of tear-away, or multiple layers for a firmer stabilizer. Apply spray adhesive to your tear-away to make it adhesive. Choose a multi-directional or bi-directional tear-away for the easiest removal from your project. When buying your tearaway hold it up to the light. Check if the fibers run in all directions or predominately in one. Test the tearability by tearing in both directions before use. Ones that tear in only one direction are not as easy to remove. Tear-away is ideal for embroidering on any stable fabrics like light weight cottons, silks, canvas etc, Use it for sheer fabrics, as it can be easily removed at completion of embroidery. It is good for making in-the-hoop projects or any project you want to finish off quickly. Tear-away stabilizer is one of the quickest and easiest to remove.
- Iron-On Tear-Away - is excellent for medium to heavyweight knit fabric. For best results when ironing on, be sure to avoid stretching the knit. Iron-on stabilizers are preferred to stabilize knits so they won't stretch during embroidery. They are just like a normal tear-away, but become fusible when ironed on to the fabric. If you are using a stretch or knit fabric then stabilize with iron-on tear-away first and then treat as a woven. Make sure that the iron-on stabilizer is larger than the hoop so that the fabric will not stretch. You can mark your center lines on to the fabric to make sure that it is square when hooped. Iron-on, fusible tear-aways make it easier to keep the fabric and stabilizer on-grain during hooping without stretching or distorting the fabric. And they prevent any grain shifting that may occur during stitching, especially when stitching a large area. Avoid using an iron-on for tightly packed rows of stitches, because it will be difficult to remove.
- Tear-Away for Toppings - are used on top of some embroidery fabrics like velvet to prevent the stitches falling into the nap of the fabric. Dry Cover Up, and heat or melt-aways are suitable for this. Toppings are intended for use on top of, rather than beneath, the fabric in order to prevent stitches from getting lost in a dense nap or pile, ideal for velvets, toweling etc. Dry Cover Up is a permanent, plastic-like film tear-away that comes in multiple colors. This keeps the fabric from showing through the embroidery. Heat or melt-aways are non permanent stabilizers that can be used for toppings, but will dissolve when heated with an iron.
- Adhesive Tear-Aways - are the best for projects that are hard to hoop, difficult to hoop, or stretch knits. Adhesive Stick 'n' Peel is a sheet of sticky paper that you remove the protective paper from to reveal the adhesive. Stick 'n' Peel is an adhesive tear-away that is like a sheet of sticker paper. Hoop the entire piece of stabilizer, then remove the protective paper from inside your hoop. You can then lay the fabric to be embroidered over the top of hoop and smooth in place. The adhesive will keep firmly in place. Hydro-Stick is a product that is an alternative to self-adhesive embroidery where the needle "gums up" or you wish to avoid aerosol sprays. It is available in tear-away light or heavy weights and in a cutaway. It becomes sticky when wet and it can be repositioned. It is released when wet again. Hydro-stick lets you stick and secure articles that are difficult to hoop in the usual way. Use Hydro-stick instead of peel and stick backings and messy adhesive sprays. It leaves no gummy residue on needles, hoops or machine parts. It is an environmentally friendly, natural adhesive that easily washes off leaving no stain. You can re-moisten a few times to reposition your fabric if necessary. It is available in tear-away light or heavy weights and in a cutaway. It becomes sticky when wet and it can be repositioned. Adhesive Tear-Aways are Ideal for items too small to hoop like baby blanks, neckties etc, or difficult to hoop items like bags, napped fabrics like velvets and other items that may be ruined by hooping, velvets, towels, silks, knits, vinyl, leather and any material requiring a better hold, stretch knit fabrics that require stabilizing, so they don't stretch while embroidering, fabrics too thick to hoop, that wont enable you to adjust your hoop tension correctly. Use this stabilizer when positioning is critical. The adhesive holds the fabric firmly but it can be repositioned easily. Position the fabric according to the starting point that you have drawn on the fabric and then check your positioning using an outline of the design. If you are not happy you can reposition the fabric easily without needing to re-hoop it.
Tips for Using Tear-away Stabilizers
- When sewing a large stitch intensive design, use a few layers of light to medium weight tear-away instead of a heavy weight. You can then tear away each layer carefully from your design.
- When using more then one layer of tear-away, only hoop one layer with your fabric, and then place another layer underneath your embroidery hoop for greater stability. You can use a spray adhesive to help keep it in place.
- Tear stabilizer carefully away from back of embroidery design by pulling gently, and not too quickly. Be careful to not pull or stretch fabric.
- Spray one side of stabilizer with temporary spray adhesive to make it fusible so it will hold your fabric more securely in place.
- When used for in-the-hoop projects, sometimes little bits of stabilizer are left behind after tearing. These are fondly called fuzzies, pokies or wispies. You can use tweezers to pull these out, or a permanent felt pen the same color as your satin stitch thread to color over them.
- To ensure your embroidery won’t shift during stitching, pin the fabric to the stabilizer, carefully keeping the pins outside the embroidery sewing area. Alternatively use basting stitches. Only do this on fabric that won’t be marked by the pins or stitches.
Water Soluble Stabilizers
- There are many different types of water-soluble stabilizers available on the market now. Before you could purchase these stabilizers, the home embroiderer would use old plastic dry cleaning bags, or hospital bags as water soluble stabilizer. Alternatively they would use thick plastic stabilizers available for free motion embroidery. When Vilene appeared on the market it was a true water-soluble fabric with the look and feel of a textile and not a plastic. It is one of the most popular dissolvable stabilizers available these days, but there are others just as good called Dissolve, Solvy, Aqua Film, Rinseaway etc.
- Water-Soluble Vilene - Vilene is a strong water-soluble stabilizer. Vilene keeps your stitches from sinking into high pile fabrics and is excellent for providing a stable surface for the embroidering of lace. You can hoop it either in front or behind the fabric to provide support while embroidering. Or you can hoop the backing only, and embroider directly on to it to create your own lace. Then just wash it away in water. Vilene is a soft stabilizer that feels like chux wash-cloth when dry. It is very strong and stable, requiring just one layer. Vilene is one of the original dissolvable backings and is European made by Freudenberg. Vilene is the prefered stabilizer to use for freestanding lace designs. You often only need a single layer to embroider a freestanding lace design or flower. Any design used for freestanding lace needs to be digitized specially so it will not fall apart when you rinse the stabilizer away. Always follow the directions given by the designer as to how many layers of Vilene you need to use. Aqua Film (Extra Weight) is also another option.
- Solvy Dissolvable Stabilizer - This is a Solvy backing, for use on the top of piled fabric such as towels, polar fleece etc. It washes away fully and easily. Solvy is an almost clear film, which is hooped with the fabric and once embroidered, will tear away easily form the sewn area, with the final pieces dissolved with a damp cloth or spray of water.
Tips for Using Water Soluble Stabilizers
- Transparent Fabrics. As a stabilizer for transparent fabrics it is perfect. Place a decorative thread in the bobbin as well as the top and hoop both the fabric and the Vilene inside the hoop.
- Making Lace with Fabrics. Press or hoop tulle or organza between two layers of water soluble stabilizer, then embroider your lace design and wash away stabilizer and you will be left with delicate embroidered lace.
- Heirloom Work. Use Vilene when doing heirloom work with repeat rows of stitching as the stabilizer can be easily rinsed away. No more picking bits of stabilizer from behind the stitching. When stitching heirloom designs using tearaway remove the backing at each strip of stitching rather than wait till a panel has been finished.
- Towels. Place Solvy on top of piled fabrics such as towels, polar fleece etc. when embroidering on them. The embroidery design stays above the pile of the fabric, and doesnt get caught up in the pile. The stabilizer can then be easily washed away at the end.
- Delicate Fabrics. It can be used under delicate fabrics which could be damaged by tearaway stabilzier. Or where a soft result is wanted.
- Make your own Fabric Stiffener. All scraps of Vilene can be kept and dissolved in water to make a paint on, or spray on fabric stiffener for delicate fabrics. Can be used to stiffen organza and lighter weaves of silk to give it a bit more stability when handling. For heirloom work tucks are much easier to do if the fabric is stiffened first. When used like this it washes out really easily and will not damage the fabric or stitching. It does not mark with an iron like some plastic products will do.
- Badges and Patches. Use it for making badges or labels so that you do not have to worry about trimming the excess stabilizer from the edges. The badges can just be trimmed close to the stiching and then wiped with a wet cloth. This effectively seals the edges.
- Cutwork and Applique. It is ideal for applique and cutwork as there are no traces of stabilizer to remove from the small sections of open work. Use Aqua film (Universal weight) , Soluble Vilene or Rinsaway as a backing for cutwork or when you want all traces of the backing to wash out.
- Used in Replacement of Adhesives. Vilene can be used in place of adhesive stabilizer for fabrics that may be damaged by the adhesive. Place the Vilene in the hoop and then tack the fabric in place using a tacking stitch. It will not gum up the needle like some adhesive stabilizers do.
- Off-the-Edge Sewing. Vilene creates a stable surface when when stiching off the edge of a fabric for a lace trim etc.
- Free Motion Stitching. It has great strength for free motion stitching as a base for your sewing. It can be used for any free motion work but the only dissadvantage is that you cannot see through it. Trace designs on to it using a window as a light box. You can leave some of the stabilizer to stiffen your item by not rinsing all the Vilene away.
- Thread Painting. Threadpainting is a form of free machine embroidery where the design is ‘painted’ onto the fabric using various blendable and natural color threads. Heavy duty Dissolve stabilizer is a great base for this.
- Hoop Carefully. When hooping the Vilene use just enough tension to take the wrinkles out of the fabric. It is reasonably strong but do not pull too hard on it or it can tear.
- Use Hooping Aids. Some aids like Hoop Ease or non skid matting can really make a difference when hooping fine fabrics or Vilene.
- Make Sticky Soluble Stabilizer. Spray the wash-away stabilizers with spray adhesive to make it a sticky soluble stabilizer. This makes it easier to use for threadpainting, free sewing etc.
- Iron Sheets Together. Several sheets of plastic wash away stabilizer can be ironed together using a teflon pressing sheet (or Gladbake) for making stronger stabilizer.
- To remove all traces of the Vilene rinse it several times in fresh, warm water and then leave the design to soak for several hours to remove all traces of the stabilizer. For freestanding lace that may be very dense use warm water for soaking. If you want some residual stiffness you can reduce the soaking time to leave traces of the stabilzier in the design. Lace needs a good soak so that it will feel really soft against the skin. You can then use fabric softener to soften your lace further.
- Alter your Tension if Needed. When sewing dense designs such as badges (not freestanding) on Vilene you may need to reduce your tension slightly to get a better result as the design is being sewn out on very thin stabilizer.
- Cut-away stabilizer is available in many different weights from light to medium to heavy weight stabilizer. Poly-mesh and Hydro-stick are also very popular forms of cut-aways. are used for permanent stabilization, eliminating pulled or sagging stitches, providing excellent stretch resistance, remaining with the fabric for continued stabilization through laundering and wearing, not tearing when stitching dense designs and embroidering on any unstable fabrics or knits as they won't stretch when embroidering.
- Light and Medium Weight Cut-Aways - Light weight cut-away is for lighter knits and medium weight is for medium knits - two layers can be combined for heavier knits or stitch counts.
- Heavy-Weight Cut-Away Stabilizer - is the top selling weight for commercial embroiderers. Cut-away will stabilize thousands of stitches and still maintain a soft drapable finish. Heavy weight cut-away is the perfect stabilzier for sewing dense embroidery designs, or using for embroidered projects made in the hoop that you want to keep well stabilized.
- Poly-Mesh Cut-Away and Fusible - is a soft, sheer no-show cut-away mesh backing. It is very strong and can be used as a single layer. It is the perfect stabilizer for knits or any project where softness is a consideration. It is available in a plain, non fusible backing, or as a fusible which has all the benefits of Poly-mesh with the added benefit of an iron-on for even greater stability. Poly-mesh is available in three perforated sizes, making it a quick and easy stabilizer to use, as you don't need to cut it off the roll. Choose the perforated size to best suit your hoop. Ideal for light-weight knits, Poly-mesh helps keeps your outlines on track by providing a soft yet extremely stable backing. It is a must for any embroidery where the stabilizer touches the skin, like polo shirts, baby garments etc. as it will remain soft. Use this mesh stabilizer when embroidering on light-colored or see-through fabrics as the mesh wont show through. It is the perfect stabilizer for sheer fabrics as it is translucent and will remain soft after embroidery. If added support is necessary for your embroidery, use a layer of tear-away along with the poly-mesh to provide better stitch definition. Try using two layers, with the grain running perpendicular to each other for even greater stability. Use like a cut-away stabilizer, cutting away excess after embroidery. The translucent property of this stabilizer will prevent shadows showing through the fabric after trimming. Made of embossed nylon, which is soft, sheer, and translucent, no-show mesh provides the stability you need with a single layer, but will not be visible from the front of the shirt as will other stabilizers. Ideal for all lightweight knits or wovens where softness is a consideration.
- Hydro-Stick Cut-Away - a stabilizer with a water activated adhesive that sticks when you wet it, and then the adhesive can be released when you wet it again. It leaves no gummy residue on needles, hoops or machine parts. This is a great stabilizer to use when you need to position your fabric exactly in the hoop, as you can re-moisten a few times to reposition your fabric if necessary. It is the ideal stabilizer to use when embroidering on knits, as the adhesive keeps your fabric totally stable and it won’t allow it to stretch during embroidery. Hydro-stick is available as a cut-away or tear-away stabilizer.
- On Unstable Fabrics or Knits - Cut-aways provide the best stability for stretch fabrics or knits. As there is a lot of stretch in the fabric, you need a stabilizer that wont stretch in any direction. Choose a good quality cut-away stabilizer for this. Use an adhesive cut-away stabilizer like poly-mesh fusible to keep knits totally stable when embroidering. It is very difficult to hoop knit fabrics without stretching them or distorting them. Hydrostick is a perfect solution for this as you can hoop the Hydrostick, and then wet the stabilizer inside your embroidery hoop, and carefully place your knit fabric on top, without needing to hoop it. Cut-aways are a good choice for knit fabrics, because they prevent the designs from stretching out with frequent wearing and washing. Spray the stabilizer lightly with a temporary spray adhesive to help keep your fabric firmly in place.
- For Dense Designs - Cut-away stabilizer is designed for dense embroidery designs as it won't tear during the stitchout. Choose the correct weight stabilizer for your stitchout, depending on the density of your design. Use cut-away when embroidering fabrics that stretch or distort with tear-away stabilizers. Multiple layers may be used for heavy duty applications, or dense embroidery designs. Be careful to not over stabilize. If you use too much stabilizer, your design may not sew correctly and you could end up with a design that is very stiff. When sewing designs that are very dense and have many layers of threads sewn on top of each other try using a lighter weight thread for the embroidery.
- When you want a Permanent Embroidery Stabilizer - Cut-aways are permanent stabilizers that remain on the fabric and keep it stable during and after embroidery. Cut-aways are a good choice for knit fabrics, because they prevent the designs from stretching out with frequent wearing and washing. Use cut-away stabilizer on projects to be framed, where visibility of the stabilizer is not an issue, but you want a good result. Use cut-away when sewing appliscapes, as the stabilizer will keep the appliscape square firm after stitching. Use a heavy cut-away stabilizer when sewing applique dsigns that you are going to cut out after embroidery and that you want to remain firm and intact.
- Hints for Using Cut-Away - Cut-aways are generally available in black or white. Choose the best color for your project. To remove a cut-away stabilizer, first rough-cut the excess stabilizer from the fabric. Then, using sharp embroidery scissors, trim close to the stitching. Cut-aways are available in a variety of weights. Get samples of the different weights and play around with them to find out which one works best for your projects. When using more than one layer of cut-away, only hoop one layer with your fabric, and then place another layer underneath your embroidery hoop for greater stability.You can use a spray adhesive to help keep it in place. When stitching on a fabric that will be marked or ruined by hooping it, hoop your stabilizer only, then spray lightly with a temporary spray adhesive. Place the fabric on top of the hoop. To ensure your embroidery won't shift during stitching, pin the fabric to the stabilizer, carefully keeping the pins outside the embroidery sewing area. Alternatively, use basting stitches. Only do this on fabric that won't be marked by the pins or stitches. To help avoid the “show through” look, use two layers of a lighter cut-away and trim them away at different levels. Use it when machine embroidering and appliqueing on knits like t-shirts, golf shirts, sweaters and sweatshirts, lycra swimwear, work-out and bike pants.
Cut-Aways vs Tear-Aways
- The standard rule is if the fabric stretches, use cut-away. If it doesn't then you can use tear-away.
- You will usually get better definition with a cut-away than a tear-away. Cut-aways are usually more dense with a slightly longer fiber - therefore able to grasp the thread easier. The type of fabric determines the kind of backing.
- When you want the continued support of a stabilizer for the thread area through wearing and laundering use a cut-away stabilizer.
- Tear-away stabilizers are faster and easier to use, but only give temporary support during the embroidery process.
- Tear-aways have limited usefulness on unstable fabrics like knits or when sewing dense embroidery designs because each needle penetration weakens the tear-away and perforates it.
- Cut-aways are a better choice for designs with a high stitch count, open weave fabrics or light weight fabrics with a complex design.
- Sometimes if your stitch count isn't too heavy you may be able to get by with a quality tear-away on knits. However do test sew the design and stabilizer on similar fabric first to ensure the combination works before sewing it on your finished garment.
- Tear-aways are the preferred stabilizer for in-the-hoop embroidery projects.
Improve your Hooping using Spray Adhesive
by Evy Hawkins of A Bit of Stitch
- Commercial embroidery plants have two goals: Sell a lot of work and do that work faster and cheaper than their competitors. Yet they must also maintain quality or they will lose to their competitors anyway. This means that they need a few tricks up their sleeves!
- Thankfully, the home embroiderer does not have to worry about speed. Yet we do worry about quality, and nothing is more disappointing than stitching out a beautiful design that looks awful after stitching. Puckers all around the design, lumpy, wavy fill areas, outline stitches wandering far from their places…sound familiar?
- As you have surely learned by now, stabilizer is an embroiderer’s best friend. How you apply that stabilizer though, is what brings out the best qualities in that best friend!
Commercial embroidery cannot be babied…no ironing on interfacing to stabilize a knit! No hooping and re-hooping trying to get unwieldy stabilizers to stay put! So just what do they do? They glue. Temporary spray adhesive is an essential product for the commercial embroiderer, try it out for yourself and see why. Here are some steps to follow...
- Do not ever stretch the fabric in your hoop. Forget about drum tightness. A drum-tight-stretched fabric will relax when taken from the hoop and this will cause puckers and waves in and around your embroidery.
- Hoop the fabric firmly, do not stretch, but do not allow any wrinkles or sags to be there either.
- Cut a piece of stabilizer suitable to your fabric just slightly larger than your hoop.
- Place that stabilizer in a cardboard box, well away from your machine, and spray one side lightly* with temporary spray adhesive. (* Adjust the amount of spray coverage to your fabric weight. A heavy fabric, like denim, would need more spray, a light weight cotton, less.)
- Place the stabilizer sticky side up to the bottom of your hooped fabric, thereby gluing the stabilizer to not only your fabric, but also to your hoop. If you feel that you need two or more layers of stabilizer under this design, cut them the same size as the hoop and slide them under the hoop after you have placed the hoop in the machine.
- Stitch out your design.
My favorite spray adhesive is 505 Spray and Fix. It can be found anywhere embroidery supplies are sold. Any clean up necessary of oversprayed glue can be done with denatured alcohol. (Sold in hardware stores) It is a good idea to clean your hoops of any buildup from time to time using this alcohol.
The reason I suggest spraying your stabilizer in a box is that it prevents overspraying onto something that you do not want glue on. I use a box with a lid that I can prop open just enough to reach my hand and the glue bottle into. Remember, always use the smallest possible hoop needed for the design, and always preshrink your fabric or garment. Try this commercial trick for yourself. I am sure you will enjoy the results!
To Hoop or not to Hoop
by Evy Hawkins of A Bit of Stitch
When at all possible, hoop your fabric. It is the most secure method for embroidery. A few exceptions are Velvet, Corduroy, Satin Faced Silk, Velour and very thick terrycloth. There are other fabrics that benefit from not being hooped as well, mostly expensive silks and fine linens. Many natural fibers crush or mark easily so it is always smart to test a little corner of your finer fabrics before you hoop your project. Some people have success in preventing hoop burn by wrapping their inner hoops with soft fabric. (I use this method as a last resort.)
- Fabrics that have loops (such as terry cloth); have a cut pile (such as corduroy and velvet) or have a very loose weave may be damaged by sticking to a stabilizer if that stabilizer will be pulled away after stitching. These fabrics are usually either hard to hoop or tend to mark with hooping, so they really need to be stuck. I like to use Vilene stabilizer and temporary spray adhesive for these projects. Vilene stays well in the hoop and is sturdy enough to support most fabrics. Because it dissolves with water, you do not have to worry about disturbing the pile of the fabric by pulling it away.
- Sometimes however, I find myself using a fabric that shouldn't be hooped or washed, and would be damaged by ripping away a sticky stabilizer. In these cases I use a regular piece of lightweight woven interfacing for my stabilizer and just trim away as much of the interfacing as I can after stitching. Usually these projects end up with a lining, and as interfacing is soft and pliable, you cannot tell that it remains.
- Knits are one of the fabrics that benefit from using woven interfacing as a stabilizer. The most commonly used stabilizer for knits is the non-woven cut-away. However, as a knit is already thick and spongy this just adds to the depth, which can cause design distortion. If you have ever embroidered a design on a sweatshirt using a cut-away stabilizer and ended up with a not-so-happy result, the stabilizer was most likely the problem. I like to use iron-on woven interfacing for all my knit projects. Apply it to the back of the fabric, ironing just enough to hold the layers together, and then add another layer of iron-on tear-away stabilizer over that. (The iron-on woven interfacing needs to be slightly bigger than the area of the embroidery design, and the iron-on tear-away needs to be slightly bigger than the hoop.) After stitching and removing the tear-away, gently pull up the interfacing and trim the excess from around the design. Some people like to use iron-on knit interfacing, which stretches in both directions. They usually use two or three layers placed at different angles. I find that woven interfacing works best and only one layer is needed. Remember, when embroidering on knits, the thinner the better!
- There are several stabilizers that can be removed with heat. These stabilizers also work well for projects that cannot be washed, you just need to be sure the fabric can withstand the heat necessary to remove the stabilizer later.
- Peel and stick stabilizer is popular, but use with extreme caution, as the sticky is very sticky! Any stabilizer can be made into a "stick to" stabilizer by spraying one side of it with temporary spray adhesive.
- Fabrics that cannot be hooped also benefit from being basted in place on top of the stabilizer as an extra precaution. Most embroidery machines have a function that will sew a basting stitch outline around the perimeter of the design area. If your machine does not have this function, you can carefully baste the layers together by hand while they are in the hoop.
by Evy Hawkins of A Bit of Stitch
- Monogrammed towels look lovely right after you stitch them. Do they look as nice after washing a few times? Denim shirts are such fun items to embroider, but have you tried to embroider light colors (especially white) over dark denim and gotten muddy or strange shades of color in your embroideries? Love the look of embroidery on printed, striped and dotted fabric…and hate the show-through that can happen?
- These problems can be solved with a wonderful product created by Hoop-It-All, Inc. -- dryCoverUp. This embroidery stabilizer is actually thin vinyl sheeting, sold in 17 different colors including clear. Most embroidery enthusiasts know that when stitching on textured fabrics, such as terry cloth, a water-soluble topping will keep the fabric nap from poking through the stitching. It also helps prevent the stitching from getting lost in pile fabrics. Yet this topping is water-soluble…it goes away when you wash it, just like it’s supposed to. Then what?
- Less than satisfied with my beautiful monogrammed towels after the second time through the wash, I decided to try out the new roll of clear vinyl topping from Hoop-It-All. Placed directly on the fabric, held in place with a very light spray of temporary spray adhesive, it worked just like a water-soluble topping. The excess tore easily away, and my embroidery looked great with no loopy show-through. Many washings later my towels still look good!
- Using dryCoverUp under light or white colored embroideries when stitching on dark cloth will keep your thread colors true, and even lend a little 3-D effect to the embroidery. It will also prevent unwanted show-through of fabric patterns in your designs. This vinyl can also be used as a permanent stabilizer on the back of embroidery when the stitching needs a very firm, permanent foundation.
- The manufacturer recommends that you match the dryCoverUp with your thread color. I have found that the colors I need help with the most are white and yellow, both of which tend to turn blue and green when stitched on dark denim. White dryCoverUp works well with a variety of pale colors. Although the cover-up is intended for use only with fill stitching, I’ve discovered that it also works wonderfully with large monograms that have a good layer of understitching beneath the satin stitches.
- On the down side, dryCoverUp is a little hard on thread. Using a slightly larger needle helps with both the stitching and the tearing away of the excess plastic. Don’t use a ballpoint needle, and stay close to your machine while stitching. If not pulled quickly and cleanly off, tiny pieces of the vinyl can show around the edges of the embroidery. If the area has an outline stitch, remove the excess dryCoverUp before stitching the outline, and this will help cover up those pesky little edges. As always, preshrink your fabric or garment before embroidering.