Articles, Blog

Machine Embroidery – Stabilizing for Success

October 9, 2019

Hello, Class. Today’s sewing science is all based on stabilizing
for success. Let’s get started. Rumor has it you’re loving the sewing science
out there and I’m loving doing these experiments for you. Although this is one I’ve been working on
for quite a while. Some of the first, what do I want to say,
texture or technology that got me really excited about getting into the sewing world was machine
embroidery. And that, hold on, I’m not going to teach
you all about machine embroidery. We don’t have that kind of time today. But what I want to focus right in on is how
to use the different kinds of stabilizers and successfully prepare for different kinds
of projects. So we’re going to talk about some cutaway,
some tear away, some wash away and some toppers. We’re going to hit those four and get you
back onto your embroidery machine. So I’m super excited to present the info. As you’re looking at my samples one of the
things I learned early, early on was what is called basting into the hoop. So I don’t actually hoop my fabrics, if
you look down here on the table. You don’t see the fabric in the hoop at
all. What you see is the stabilizer in the hoop. And then what I do is I use a basting stitch
in almost all brands that I’ve ever played with have some sort of function in the embroidery
command that’s called, oh gosh I’m going to forget the term. Basting, basting around design, stitching
around the hoop. There’s all kinds of different little key
terms they use. But what this allows us to do is not only
secure the fabric right around the embroidery so we don’t get as much stretch. But it also allows us to do some really cool
placement on embroiderys. So like check this out. Here on this shirt I did years ago. You can see I was able to take a logo and
put it up even over a shoulder seam and everything because I was able to put the stabilizer into
the hoop. And then I was able to locate the garment
how I wanted. It didn’t have to be square. Because of the sleeve this would have almost
been impossible to hoop. So basting into the hoop is a fantastic trick
and I use it almost always. No matter what kind of stabilizer you’re
using, this will work for you, ok? So that’s when you see that stitching. The very first, and I’m going to kind of
work my way down on level of density, let’s say. So this design here, this is a fun one. My good friend Lynn and Robert Enns. Happy Birthday, Lynn. Lynn really wanted an embroidery machine. That’s your husband’s business logo, need
I say more? When he came to look at the machine, the logo
was running, blah, blah, blah we did a great job on a sales technique that day. That was Lynn having me help sell her a sewing
machine. So they let me use this logo here. And if you look it’s a very very dense logo. You have nothing but thread. So I’ve chosen to use what’s called a
cut-away stabilizer. And the cut-away you can see is really thick. You can’t really tear at it. So the density of the stitching is not going
to cause the stabilizer to rip away from the design prematurely. We’re going to talk about that here in a
few minutes, ok? So it’s a nice thick stabilizer. It gives me the opportunity to put in nice
thick fabrics . And then what will happen at the end is I’ll cut out the basting stitches
and then I’ll take some small scissors. And then I’ll literally cut the fabric right
or excuse me I should say, cut the stabilizer right up to that satin stitching there. And there will be some stabilizer left in
the thread but nothing left in the background. So that is a cut-away stabilizer. And in order to remove it you must cut it
away so you’ll remember what it’s called. Ok? So moving on. The next one we get into is a tear away stabilizer. Now a tear away, let me grab my sample. Maybe you recognize my wonderful logo here. Now the fun part about a tear away is it is
very inexpensive but it does tear quite easily. The reason I choose a tear away on something
like this is I want to be able to tear away the stabilizer in the back area here because
I don’t want to have stabilizer on the back. So all of these little parts and pieces I
can actually get in here and I can poke at them with my scissor or a, what am I trying
to say, a pair of tweezers or something. And I can actually just peel that and remove
all of that stabilizer. And why is it important to remove some of
that stabilizer? Well sometimes that can show through in your,
let’s say you’re wearing a lighter colored garment and the stabilizer might show if,
you’ve seen it before. It’s like you can see the big white ring
behind the embroidery on the garment. So with something like that we want to be
able to get it all away. It also can start to wash and make a bit of
a mess. Tear away will turn to paper in your laundry. So we want to get it all out. So when I have a design that is some thread
and heavy thread and then some large big open areas like this, I choose to use a tear away. The disadvantage to the tear away is that
if you do a lot of heavy satin stitching like I did on that ENNS logo, it could have started
to pre perforate the stabilizer. And because I only basted into the hoop that
stabilizer could start to release and my design could shift. So that’s kind of the differences. I think about the end design and the end use
when I’m comparing the differences between a cutaway and a tear away. I hope I’m not going too fast for you there. Ok, are you ready for one of my favorites
which is considered a wash away? Now wash away is great for a couple of different
reasons. Let me bring up here. First of all you’ll notice the kind of fabric
I’m going to show you on. This is the leftover of a Man Sewing shirt. We’ve got a cool Embellish a Hoodie design
out there or tutorial for you. So here is a design I created a long time
ago. It’s supposed to say Born to Sew there. And it is very lacy. It is very open. It’s a design that doesn’t have a lot
of thread. And if I had to flip this over and I had to
remove all of that stabilizer by tweezer and scissor it would drive me mad. So what I use is some sort of a wash away
stabilizer. So think it through,right? You need to make sure that your fiber and
the project you’re making it on is going to be something that can be at least washed
one time. Generally wash away stabilizers are best soaked
in a bucket. They do get a little bit sticky. So I like to use a bucket and not a sink. And I don’t want to use my washing machine
until the final rinse. Most all wash aways will have some very specific
washing and care instructions on there. So make sure you’re checking those out while
you’re picking the different stabilizers, right? And you can just see again by the design,
anything that’s real lacy anything that’s real open, something that I don’t want to
pull at, that wash away stabilizer is going to do a fantastic job. In the rinse process you won’t have any
work to do. And you can still see there that I’ve been
basting all of these into the hoop. One of your questions might be, Gosh Rob that
stabilizer looks a little bit more pliable. It really is not. You can baste out of the hoop nice and secure. And your design will stay fantastically. And you can see even with the little bit of
give in the shirt material the design has come out very nicely. So I love wash aways. They can be considerably more expensive because
of the special features within them so I don’t use them all the time. But I certainly use them if I don’t have
to what we call weed out all of that stabilizer, ok? You ready for your last, and this is kind
of a combo use, right? Because you’re thinking, Ok you showed me
all the easy stuff, Rob. This is a combination because yes I’m holding
some fun cuddle or I like to call this stuff goosebumps fabric, right? But it’s got some give. Number one, look at that stretch in there,
ok? Number two, it’s got some bumps. Terry cloth, polar fleece any kind of like
this cuddle fabrics. It has the opportunity to snag on your embroidery
foot and cause real problems especially if you’ve basted into the hoop. So if you look at my final sample right here,
you can see that I’ve actually used the cuddle fabric here. The goosebumps. I don’t know if you can see this real well
in the camera but there is a clear topping fabric. So we’re going to talk about two stabilizers
at once right here, ok? So underneath I used a self adhesive. Sometimes they’ll call it a stick on. And you can do self adhesive two ways. You can buy it as an actual stabilizer that
has a removable and the reason I brought this is I forgot what side was the sticky. So what you normally do is you put it into
the hoop. And you can see the hoop burn or the framework
where the hoop was. Then you’ll take a straight pin and you
score around the stabilizer and you peel off what would be the sticker backing. But I did this one upside down. So I left behind the sticker paper and peeled
off the good part. So always make sure you know which is the
sticky side. The sticky side is the part that’s going
to be in the hoop and remaining . And you don’t want to necessarily peel the paper
off and then try to stick it into the hoop because it will really gum things up. And that’s why I don’t usually use a spray
baste when I’m basting into the hoop or using these self adhesive stabilizers. It certainly works but it can gum up not only
your work surface but can really get gummy onto your hoop itself and can be very hard
to clean off. So I do like spray adhesives for certain jobs. This one I prefer to use a self adhesive stabilizer
but I also don’t do a lot of this kind of embroidery work. So the self adhesive stabilizer again is more
costly but I’m not using it very often. The self adhesive stabilizer, let me see if
I can show you this. I’m going to start to peel away, you can
probably even hear that it was stuck on there. And the benefit to that was, you can still
see where the hoop was there. The benefit was is that fabric didn’t shift
around at all. So it kept it beautiful. And then this clear fabric, we call it a topper,
this is a clear film but it is also a wash away. It goes right on top so that as the machine
moves around none of those goosebumps or the pile of the terry cloth get snagged on the
foot as things are moving around. And then when I wash all of this away all
of the wonderful texture in those goosebumps will come out from around and behind the embroidery. And I won’t have too much to remove either. Wow that was mouthful. I can’t believe I never even took a breath. But I think the counter down at the bottom
is close to ten minutes already so that is my sewing science and my stabilizing for success. I bet a lot of you have embroidery machines
out there. And I bet there’s a few other questions
that maybe I could handle in this large overall global sewing science. And so I would love to know from you machine
embroiderers out there, what else can I teach you here at Man Sewing.


  • Reply Carlina Rivera October 10, 2016 at 5:18 am

    So much information, thank you!

  • Reply April Stark October 10, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Thank you!

  • Reply skipbj October 10, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Can you show how you baste into the hoop – or do you just place on the stabiliser and hold it down?

  • Reply LynnSelby October 10, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Great tutorial Rob, clear and concise – thanks so much. It certainly helped me with what to use when. 😊

  • Reply JANICE CROFT October 10, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Great Rob that's how I do it too. my machine doesn't have the fancy precise positioning so I fix my fabric with a baste around the design for small designs and a baste around hoop for the large designs. have you used the spray stabliser? I think it's called stable magic, comes in a liquid pump bottle.

  • Reply Marian Rooth October 10, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Remind me to use embroidery bobbin thread when embroidering. I forget.

  • Reply Cat D October 10, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Hello Rob, question… do you get the basting stitch in the first place from the embroidery design? I have the dream machine, so it does just about everything baby lock do.

  • Reply N R October 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Let's digitize!

  • Reply Trude Jackson October 10, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Another great tutorial and extremely helpful!  I'd love to see more tutorials on stabilizers for other projects other than embroidery.  Using stabilizers for applique comes to mind!  I know I've stood at the fabric store looking through the stacks of products available…and normally the sales clerk isn't familiar with what they all do either.  The number of products is overwhelming and knowing which is good for what would be very helpful!  Sure love your videos!

  • Reply Barbara D October 10, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Love your intro…also the white coat with logo — fits you. Always fun to listen to you. Thanks! Great Job!

  • Reply Valerie Good October 10, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    You could teach us to embroider on a 30+ year sewing machine. Now that would be awesome!

  • Reply Jacklyn Trierweiler October 10, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    I'd love to see a small project from the material being hooped to completion. I am lucky enough to have the same embrodiery machine I see on your video so my eyes would be peeled!! 😉

  • Reply Donna Cornell October 10, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    This quick tutorial is excellent.  I do enjoy your technique and teaching skill.  thank you so much!!

  • Reply Ralph Mascaro October 11, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Could you do a tutorial on making a Gingham quilt… I see these made in solids in 2 colors and sometimes 3 colors. Love your videos.

  • Reply Wanda Mack October 12, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    Loved this lesson, I have always hooped my fabric, I am going to try it your way, thank you.

  • Reply Deb7643 October 13, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Hey Rob, Love your to Tutorials. Just FYI you can use baby wipes to remove the sticky spray off your hoops.

  • Reply Candace Peterson October 14, 2016 at 2:53 am

    Love your tuts, Rob.  Quick tip:  use Williams Lectric Shave to clean your hoops.  Takes the goop off and your sewing room smells great!

  • Reply Pat Coates October 22, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    what stabilizer would you recommend for denim. Unfortunately not great quaility denim but it will do the job. Love your programme, so informative
    Pat New Zealand

  • Reply Janet Cozens October 23, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Wow great tutorial and very helpful tips thank you so much

  • Reply Sherri Bindas October 25, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Do you have a series for beginner machine embroidery? I can do the basics, but want to learn how to do appliqué on my Baby Lock Flourish.

  • Reply rosalie hill October 29, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Hi Rob wonderful information so am I understanding you right you never hoop the fabric when you do embroidery I am new to machine embroidery so looking for all the help I can find I love your quilting shows I have been quilting for two years now and your my got for any help on it thanks

  • Reply dancnds November 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Great tutorial. Thank you. FYI – another reason (and maybe the main reason) for using the topper is to keep the stitches from being lost in the pile of the fabric. If you stitch without the topper, especially if you are doing lettering, the stitches disappear into the fabric.

  • Reply Melinda Gibson November 16, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    I have heard that washed fabric softener sheets can be used. I tried it on scraps and it seems to work… ideas???

  • Reply Linda Brown December 7, 2016 at 12:36 am

    I am embroidering a terry cloth towel , for some reason the embroidery thread will not stay in the fabric while I am embroidering . Have you ever had this problem before ,,,,if you have or have any ideas on how to solve my delima I have a open mind for all ideas … Thank you 😢😢

  • Reply Teresa Bridges May 30, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you I love your Videos

  • Reply thomas mathews June 1, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Great video's,keep them coming. I do have a question as I am just getting into embroidery. After I have used a stabilizer the embroidery is STIFF as a board. Am I doing something wrong,is there some way to make the embroidery soft and flexible again?

  • Reply Erin IOGoods July 20, 2017 at 4:55 am

    this is the best, most thorough and understandable (and thrilling!) explanation of stabilizers I've found so far – thank you!

  • Reply Linda Hutchings October 1, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    That was very helpful! Pulling out the embroidery machine soon and will use these tips. Thank you so much.

  • Reply Els Brussel October 18, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Hahaha loved the glasses ánd the tutorial

  • Reply Barb Day November 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Such a wonderful demonstration! Thank you

  • Reply TEXASMOCHI TEXASMOCHI January 7, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    First video of yours I'm watching. Looking forward to more as I subscribed.

  • Reply billie boyd February 10, 2018 at 1:38 am

    I learned the hard way today that a heavy satin stitch pattern requires a more firm stabilizer. Everyone seems to say on knit, this on fleece this with no consideration on the design. I used a soft cut away on a dense rooster design and it puckered my t-shirt. It obviously need a more stable stabilizer. (Ha Ha).

  • Reply redroses501 April 29, 2018 at 4:30 am

    Nice video!

  • Reply Phyllis Chambliss May 4, 2018 at 8:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing, good stuff.

  • Reply J Fuller May 24, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    I have stretched cutaway stabilizer on a 5×7 hoop and get that lovely drum sound. Then, I floated the polyester T-shirt and pinned it for extra stability (after spraying with temp adhesive). The material was not pulled or stretched at all, but the stabilizer was stretched tight. IS that why my stitches pulled together making wrinkles on the material?

  • Reply Amy Mills May 28, 2018 at 5:19 am

    Very helpful. Thank you!

  • Reply Donna DiMarco Campagne June 21, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    my problem how do you do a few lines with words I want to do a memory pillow and put a little poem on it thanks

  • Reply ak bunny August 31, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Very helpful, thank you…….!

  • Reply Sonya Johnson September 23, 2018 at 3:58 pm


  • Reply Peter Turner October 28, 2018 at 1:20 am

    Thanks Rob for another informative videao.

  • Reply Sharon Zierden November 17, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Could a person do counted counted cross stitch with a computerized embroidery machine?

  • Reply Sarah Contento November 30, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I use the heavier wash away stabilizer to make thread coasters or ornaments.

  • Reply emma kearney December 19, 2018 at 2:59 am

    rob I am momograming a mens polo scarf, what kind of stabilizer do I use that will not look bad on the back? the scarf is thin sweater like

  • Reply linda pucillo December 25, 2018 at 3:36 am

    Such a great tutorial for those of us that are just starting in embroidery. I was totally confused about stabilizer and toppers, but you have helped make it less confusing, so thanks!

  • Reply linda pucillo December 27, 2018 at 12:05 am

    Have been fooling around with my new embroidery machine today, and have a few questions. I plan on making some baby bibs and burp cloths with flannel and some with terry cloth. The flannel one will have batting in between the top and bottom layers. What stabilizer should I use with flannel? I want something soft. I understand that the terrycloth should have the topping put on top before embroidering, but should I put it on top of the flannel, too? Thanks for all your very clear advice.

  • Reply Renee J January 27, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for your excellent post. I’d love to learn about knock-down stitching for fabric with pile eg towelling please.

  • Reply Irene Breuhaus February 8, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Just found this!! Really great! Subscribed and looking forward to more!

  • Reply tahisha williams February 16, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    what type of embroidery machine is that??? I like this video, this is teaching me a lot about stabilizer and what type to use for material, thank you and please keep the videos coming!!!!!!!

  • Reply barbara mullen June 22, 2019 at 1:40 am

    How would you do a nap tuck stitch? I believe it flattens your towel before you embroidered your piece. Thanks

  • Reply Mandy Beth September 10, 2019 at 8:14 pm

    I just had my first stabilizer fail, and this is by far the best explanation I've seen. Thank you!

  • Reply Kathy Jo Gotta Sew September 12, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    This was great Rob. More machine embroidery school, please😊. Love your videos👍👍😊

  • Reply Rebecca Villarreal September 30, 2019 at 3:31 am

    I've just started watching your videos and you keep things fun.

  • Leave a Reply