A Guide to Selecting the Right Embroidery Stabilizer

Learn about embroidery stabilizer to improve the results and decrease the chances of mistakes.

Embroidery can be as simple as it looks. It’s just a matter of choosing the right piece of fabric, threading a needle with matching embroidery floss, and stitching. That works most of the time but taking extra care, and steps can make your entire experience more pleasing. 

Embroidery is the outcome of careful planning and preparation, which often includes designing, machine setup, and garment preparation. 

All three elements are essential to achieving perfection. In the process of digitizing the work, we often miss the most basic elements, such as embroidery stabilizer and backing selection.

Whether you are making home décor items or clothing pieces, you want your end result to be pixel-perfect. The embroidery stabilizer is the one essential tool you need to get all that perfection.

Have you ever thought about the importance of embroidery stabilizer, their uses, and their different types? If not, it’s time to consider an embroidery stabilizer.

In this article, you will learn

    • What is embroidery stabilizer
    • What is embroidery stabilizer made of?
    • Why Should You Use an Embroidery Stabilizer?
    • When to Use Embroidery Stabilizer
    • Different Types of embroidery stabilizer
    • FAQs regarding machine embroidery stabilizer 

What is Embroidery Stabilizer?

Many embroidery fabrics are unstable, and they can stretch or move during the sewing process. 

Such movements result in uneven embroidery stitches, fabric puckering, improper embroidery thread coverage, missed stitches, breaks, and holes in the garment. To avoid these fabric shifting issues, it is essential to use an embroidery stabilizer.

Sulky stabilizers
Image Source: Peacock & Fig

Wondering, “what is embroidery stabilizer?” 

An embroidery stabilizer is a piece of fabric such as fiber, paper, or water-soluble material. It can be stitched on the back or top of the fabric to make it more durable and stable while sewing or embroidery. It provides support during the embroidery process.

Still confused “what is a stabilizer for embroidery?” To answer your question in simple words, the embroidery stabilizer is a foundation that decides success or failure. 

It is a base that supports your stitches. These embroidery supplies come in different weights depending upon how fragile the stitching material is. 

What is Embroidery Stabilizer Made of?

Wondering, “what is embroidery stabilizer made of?” The embroidery stabilizer comes in woven and non-woven materials. 

If you are wondering, “what is stabilizer material for embroidery?” then this section is for you.

Each fabric company has its own way of making its branded stabilizer.  

One company makes an Omni direction embroidery stabilizer, and the others use polyester, viscose, and other non-flammable materials to make stabilizers.

Embroidery stabilizers
Image Source: Threads Magazine

Non-woven stabilizers are made in a process where fibers are smoothed into one layer. All OESD stabilizers are made in a non-directional process, meaning they are strong in all directions.  

It doesn’t matter which direction you cut or embroidery hoop your stabilizer; there will be no grain on the material.

If you want to choose the best embroidery stabilizer, make sure you consider the consistency of the fibers. Check the label of the stabilizer fabric for embroidery to see if the stabilizer you have missed any safety features you want for your particular clothing piece. 

Why Should You Use an Embroidery Stabilizer?

If you are thinking, “what can I use for embroidery stabilizer?” then this section is crafted for you. 

In the past, commercial embroiderers used to cut away or tear away backing. They used some wash-away product on top of the fabric that has raised fibers.

Machine embroidery stabilizers tips
Image Source: Graceful Embroidery

Many home embroiderers knew they wanted something to stabilize their fabric, so they became more reactive. They used typing paper, paper towels, coffee filters, saran wrap, wrapping paper, etc. They still wondered why their stitches were not lined up yet.

Remember, you will always struggle to get high-end outcomes if there is a lack of stabilization.

An embroidery stabilizer is the foundation of your embroidery. They are must-haves for hand embroidery and machine embroidery.  

They can stabilize your embroidery floss and fabric and make your embroidery process as smooth as possible. Your choice of stabilizer can either make or break your stitches.

The best alternatives to real fabric stabilizers are the embroidery backing fabric. You can get an amazing-looking result when you use stabilizers. 

When to Use an Embroidery Stabilizer?

If you ask, “what can I use as a stabilizer for embroidery?” Well, the answer is every time you sit at your embroidery machine.

Machine embroidery stabilizer
Image Source: Hatch Blog 

If you want to make amazing embroidery patterns, you will need an embroidery stabilizer. Here are a few common project lists in which you can use a stabilizer. 


Embroidering towels is a challenging task due to their texture and thickness. The thickness of the towel can make hooping difficult. 

Cutaway stabilizer
Image Source: Hatch Blog

The towel’s texture can break the embroidery needle and cause stitches to become buried. The stabilizer can be used on the back and top of the towel to prevent stitches from burying in the texture. 

The topper is a kind of wash-away embroidery stabilizer that is placed on the top of the towel, secured with an embroidery pin.  

The “backing” is a tear-away stabilizer placed on the back of the towel. It can be either hooped with the towel or hooped alone. 

T-shirts, Fleece & Sweatshirts

This is the most common reason people opt for stabilizers. An embroidery stabilizer can help stabilize the stretchy fabric and provide a permanent, soft backing. 

When working with a non-fusible cut-away embroidery stabilizer, you should use spray adhesive. It can help prevent the material and stabilize it from shifting. 

Denim or Twill

Patching denim with embroidery machine
Image Source: SubEarthan Cottage 

Denim is an unstable twill weave. The normal weight of a cut-away stabilizer can be used when working with denim. If you are working with a dense embroidery design, then layers of stabilizer can be used to support the heavy stitches. 

Napped Fabrics

Fabrics such as corduroy or velvet have a raised surface and will flaunt “marks” if they are looped in the traditional way.  

The inner side of the hoop will form a “ring” in the napped fabric that will not be possible to remove. For embroidering napped fabric, you can use a tear-away stabilizer. 

Lightweight Fabrics

When working on lightweight fabrics, stitches may pull out from the material. Adding a stabilizer here makes the fabric more stable. The stitches will not pull at the fabric. 

Loose-weave Fabrics

Loose weave fabric
Image Source: Stitches

Linen or osnaburg have a bit of space between the fibers. This makes it thicker and more difficult to embroider. You can use a permanent stabilizer to prevent the shifting. 

The stabilizer can help create a hidden structure and act like a tight weave on the back of the fabric. 

4 Different Types of Embroidery Stabilizer and Their Genius Uses 

Embroidery stabilizers include backing and topping. Backing is done by stabilizing the embroidery fabric from the back side and preventing the fabric movement during the process. 

It also creates a secure foundation for the embroidery stitches. Topping is done by stabilizing your embroidery design on the fabric’s top and preventing the stitches from losing into the fibers.

Fabric stabilizers
Image Source: Pinterest

If you are new to the embroidery or sewing world, you will be surprised to know that there are many embroidery stabilizers available. 

Choosing the best embroidery stabilizer and adding it to your embroidery kit can be challenging. You don’t have to wrap your head around finding all those embroidery stabilizers. We have done the hard work for you, bringing some of the best embroidery stabilizers available on the market.

The following are the types of embroidery stabilizers that you need for machine embroidery: 

Tear Away Stabilizer

As the name suggests, this embroidery stabilizer is made from material that can be torn with ease. This means that the excessive backing is ripped right after the embroidery. 

Light vs cutaway stabilizer
Image Source: AnnTheGran.com 

The tear-away stabilizer can become an essential part of embroidery supplies as it can be used for many types of fabric. 

They come in different weights. You can use a heavy-weight stabilizer for thick fabric. A lightweight stabilizer can be used with lightweight fabric and a lower stitch count design.

There are two ways to use tear away stabilizer. You can secure the tear-away stabilizer in your machine’s hoop, or you can hoop the tear-away stabilizer and attach the garment to the embroidery stabilizer. 

For large commercial shops, tear away stabilizer can speed up the entire embroidery process.

One drawback of this type of embroidery stabilizer is that it can distort when you tear it off. Make sure you purchase a high-quality stabilizer to prevent your stitches or fabrics from ruining. 

Here are some suggestions for a tear-away stabilizer for different projects: 

Type of Tear-away  Stitch Densities Fabric Type Characteristics


 Light density

Stable fabrics

Crisp, firm, tears with utmost ease and give near stitches.

Medium weight (1.8 oz.)

Light to medium

Stable, Semi-stable fabrics

Firm, crisp, tears with utmost ease and give neat stitches.


(1.8 oz.)

Medium to heavy

 Stable, Semi-stable fabrics

Firm, crisp, tears with utmost ease and give neat stitches.


Soft Tearaway

(1.8 oz.)

Light to medium stitch densities

Stable fabrics

Has extra polyester fibers to strengthen and soften

Medium weight soft tearaway (1.5 oz.)

Medium to high

Stable fabrics such as canvas, stain, denim

 Contains extra polyester fibers to strengthen and soften

Fusible Poly Mesh Stabilizer

This is a flexible, iron-on embroidery stabilizer that is made to stay in the garment. It is different from a standard cut-away embroidery stabilizer since it is not stiff.

If you are wondering what to use as stabilizer for embroidery on stretchy knits, then look no further than a fusible poly mesh stabilizer.

Polymesh embroidery stabilizer
Image Source: Lasopaay

These stabilizers come in different weights, and one should pay attention while choosing the right one. For heavy-weight fabric, you can go with a fusible poly mesh stabilizer. 

Cut Away Stabilizer

Cut-away embroidery stabilizer is another type of permanent stabilizer that stays with the garment.  

Did you ever get a chance to look at the wrong side of the embroidered polo or fleece with a stabilizer left on it? This is intentional and keeps the pattern from distorting from wash and wear.

After you are complete embroidering on the fabric, you need to cut/remove away extract backing left on the design. The rest of the stabilizer will stay on the fabric. The cut-away stabilizer is used for all types of wearables. 

If you are a beginner, you must go for a cut-away embroidery stabilizer. When you are just starting out with machine embroidery, cut-away stabilizers will be more suitable as they are most stable and forgiving any mistake you make. They are great when working with stretchy knits and polyester fabric as they prevent embroidery patterns from stretching with wearing and washing.

Here are some suggestions of cut away stabilizers for different projects:

Type of Cutaway Stitch Densities

Fabric Type


Lightweight cutaway stabilizer

Light and low stitch count

Best when used on lightweight knits such as golf shirts and t-shirts

Must be cut

Medium weight cutaway stabilizer

Medium and average stitch count

Best when used on medium-weight fabrics such as pique knits, fleece, and other stretchy fabrics

Must be cut 

Heavyweight cutaway stabilizer

Large and high stitch count

Heavy weight fabrics like jackets and heavy fleece

Provides maximum stability and should be cut from garments

No Show stabilizer

Light and small stitch count

Lightweight, light-colored fabrics

Soft, stable, translucent. Sheer,  Won’t show through the garment.

Water Soluble Backing or Wash Away Stabilizer

Water soluble backing or wash-away embroidery stabilizer is essential for some types of embroidery projects. As the name suggests, this stabilizer dissolves in water. 

There are two types of water-soluble or wash-away stabilizers. A film type is known as Badgemaster, and the non-woven fabric is called Vilene. They both work in the same way, and you can use any.

Embroidery stabilizer guide
Image Source: Sewing Machine Fun 

Note that water-soluble backings are not used for all fabrics. They are used for many sheer fabrics, such as organza, where you want backing to 100% disappear. It is the perfect choice for 3D, freestanding lace and lacework designs.

Wondering how to use embroidery stabilizer that disappears? After your embroidery work is finished, the water-soluble stabilizer is washed away. You will need to soak the fabric in hot water for some time as prescribed on the label. 

Here are some suggestions for Water soluble/wash-away stabilizers for different projects:

Type of Water-Soluble Stitch Densities

Fabric Type


Sew and wash


Lace or other open-weave material

Dissolves in water with ease and provides additional stabilization when embroidering FSL (Free standing lace) embroidery.

Sew and wash with adhesive


Lace or other open-weave material

Soft and stable fabric aimed to dissolve in water, with an adhesive on one side. Gives additional stabilization when embroidering FSL (Free standing lace) embroidery.

FAQs Regarding Machine Embroidery Stabilizer

Now that you have seen so much information on machine embroidery stabilizers, you might have lots of questions. Wondering where to go?

Hang in here. In this section, we have covered the most common questions related to embroidery stabilizers. Hope it will help. 

What Does an Embroidery Stabilizer Do?

A machine embroidery stabilizer can help stabilize the fabric while you are sewing or embroidering on it. They are helpful when working with thin, stretchy, and fragile fabrics. 

Stabilizer tips stitched design
Image Source: WeAllSew

Is Machine Embroidery Interfacing the Same as a Stabilizer?

Some people think machine embroidery interfacing and embroidery stabilizers are the same, but they are not. One of the major differences between them is the purpose.  

Stabilizers are temporary sewing helps, whereas interfacing is a permanent addition to your sewing/embroidery project. Stabilizers can be used for embroidery on embroidery machines, and interfacing can be done by either hand or machine. 

What Size Stabilizer is Considered Light and Heavy?

The embroidery stabilizer is available in three different sizes. Each size falls under this category:

    • Lightweight: 29 to 44 ml
    • Medium-weight: 59 to 81 ml
    • Heavyweight: 88 to 103 ml 

What is the Best Embroidery Stabilizer for Machine Embroidery?

The best embroidery stabilizer depends on the project you choose. 

What is the Best Way to Store Embroidery Stabilizers?

It is recommended to store the embroidery stabilizer in a cool and dry place. You can keep it in a container or plastic bag to prevent it from becoming dusty. 

Stabilizer towel holder
Image Source: Secrets of Embroidery

Should I Use Different Embroidery Stabilizers for Different Fabrics?

Yes. You need to use a tear-away or cut-away stabilizer for heavyweight fabric and a fusible poly mesh stabilizer for stretchy, knit fabrics. 


An embroidery stabilizer is essential for anyone who wants to embroidery a fabric. They can help prevent the fabric from shifting and give you an excellent finish.

The stabilizer can make your stitching process as smooth and enjoyable as possible. The above embroidery stabilizer guide will help you choose the best stabilizer for your needs.

If you are working on a basic embroidery project, you can choose a mid-weight fusible stabilizer. This way, you can practice stabilizers and prepare to tackle any project requiring complex stabilizer placing.

Choose the best embroidery stabilizer based on your project needs, purpose, and comfort aspects.

Want to give more professional touch to your embroidery item?  

Purchase customized, high-end woven labels, care labels, and hang tags from Super Label Store. We encourage sewers and embroiderers to use labels to make their handmade items look store-bought and give wings to their dream of starting a clothing line. 

Don’t forget to polish your sewing tools and supplies knowledge. Read Super Label Store’s guide on, 

Happy sewing!