A stabiliser is essential for machine embroidery on almost all fabrics, even those that have been interfaced.

The stabiliser supports the stitching and prevents the fabric distorting under the pull of the stitches.

Mixed packs with small quantities of several types are useful for experimenting with before you invest in rolls of the ones you are likely to use most often.

  • Tear-away type (Sulky Tear Easy, Vilene Stitch-n-Tear) for firm fabrics
  • Iron-on type (Sulky Totally Stable) for stretchy fabrics
  • Temporary spray adhesive (505) with tear-away type instead of an iron-on
  • Water-soluble ones (various weights available - Sulky Solvy, Madeira Avalon, Madeira Soluble Paper, Aquafilm) for fine fabrics where you want no trace to remain, also used on top of fleece or towelling to prevent the stitches sinking in and used without fabric to make free standing lace.

    Scraps are very useful when making buttonholes.

    Keep your water-soluble stabiliser in a plastic bag with a sachet of silica gel.

    You can make a thicker stabiliser by bonding together 2 or 3 sheets with a warm iron, using a Teflon press cloth.

    To remove all traces of the stabiliser from a garment, you may need to soak it for several hours, changing the water a few times.
  • Sticky (Sulky Sticky, Vilene Filmoplast) type for items that won't fit in a hoop or pile fabrics that would be damaged by a hoop
  • Heat-away (Sulky Heat-Away) type when you want no trace to remain but fabric is not washable
  • Paint-on type (Perfect Sew) to make fabrics such as lawn crisp. You can make your own version by dissolving scraps of water-soluble stabiliser in water.


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Mary Prior's 10 Tips for Machine Embroidery  - Embroidering on Difficult Fabrics
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