Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: January 18, 2021
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With a surge in the popularity of machine embroidery, there are many sewing projects that would benefit from the use of an embroidery stabilizer. With the aim of relieving the stress performed by the machine itself, the best embroidery stabilizer will do precisely what it claims – stabilize your fabric. This means it will not move, stretch, or crease as you embroider. Embroidery stabilizers are a vital piece of kit used by all levels of embroiders. These products are used on anything from mainstream clothing to decorative household items. They’re also useful for those embroidering manually.
Considered one of the foundations for a most successful of embroidery projects here we target no less than nine of the best embroidery stabilizers currently retailing on the market. Reviewing them regarding their most important elements, we look at issues such as the stabilizer type, the sizes available, and what fabric is more suitable. We also highlight why these stabilizers are so important alongside their product specifications, and other essential features worth mentioning. Also, we check out the many customer, and indeed expert, reviews for each model, gathering the opinions from those who matter!
Searching the markets for you, we’ve compiled our findings into one easy to access table offering a score for each one. Providing a detailed review of each product, we’ve also included an extensive buying guide, giving you all you need to know about embroidery stabilizers. Concluding with our top three, our goal is to ensure you get that best embroidery stabilizer to suit your individual sewing needs.
Our Editor’s Choice embroidery stabilizer is World Weidner’s Poly Mesh Plus machine pick which claims to offer no show throughout your completed projects. A cut away type, this is available on a ten-yard roll and extends 20 inches in total. A medium weight type of solution, it weighs just 1.5 ounces, therefore making it ideal for that lightweight of projects and indeed sheer fabrics which need that little more care when it comes to the machine.
Soft, sheer, and stable, this is a high-quality stabilizer product which is available in white coloring. A single layer application, its inclusion of poly mesh in this cut away product ensures it’s one of the more stable of solutions on the current market.
Customers of the World Weidner Embroidery Stabilizer find this a most successful choice which works exactly as described, leaving no show while not being obvious when used on clothing items.
The SuperPunch Wash Away Stabilizer gets our vote here for the best stabilizer for embroidery on towels. This is available in a wide selection of sizes and is a thoroughly wash away product, leaving no residue in the aftermath.
Ready for use on a convenient roll, this is made from a fantastic 100% PV. Not only great for using to embroider on towels, equally this does very well for freestanding lace, fleece, and pashmina. When dissolved, it offers a tighter definition. It’s also claimed to be less messy than other film stabilizers while keeping the definition of the material and holding the stitches exceptionally well.
Customers of the SuperPunch Wash Away Stabilizer highly rate this as the most perfect of dissolving stabilizers which is not just durable but completely easy to use. It’s also claimed to offer the highest quality of results, even on those harder to embroider items.
Our vote for the Best Cut Away Stabilizer goes to this product from H.B.I. This is considered a good stable choice and is also available at a great low price. Coming as a roll, this is 12 inches by 50 yards in size and weighs a mere 2.5 ounces.
Designed primarily for machine embroidery, the concept of this stabilizer is to add a great deal of stability to whatever project you’re working on. Best of all, this is the choice of stabilizer claimed to be used by all national and global apparel brands. What’s more, a cut away type, this is the more practical and more straightforward to use, cutting off the exact amount you need in an instant.
Customers of the H.B.I Cut Away Stabilizer find this so simple to use and thoroughly effective on so many applications. It’s also considered a great value choice which makes stitching on larger areas easier.
Our Budget Pick of embroidery stabilizers comes from the makers at Sulky. Referred to as a stick and stitch, this is perhaps the simpler of stabilizers which claims to be a swift and straightforward process. Firstly, you place your design on the stabilizer, using print or copy, then you remove the backing, stick on the stabilizer, then just rinse it away when you’ve finished.
Targeted more at those manual embroidery projects, it’s ideal for quilting, punch needling, hand embroidery, and cross-stitching. Available in white and of a medium weight, this is 12 x 9 inches in size and offers a slight grid pattern for ease of use. Full instructions for this self-adhesive stabilizer type are also included.
Customers of the Sulky Adhesive claim this is fantastic for manual projects, and really is quick to apply, while dissolving and rinsing away completely.
The Vilene Stabilizer gets our vote for the Best Embroidery Stabilizer for Dish Towels. This is primarily so due to its water-soluble properties, ensuring that it remains durable when used on those tougher of materials.
A wash away type, it comes ready for use in a practical roll which measures 12 inches by ten yards, or you can opt for the 12 inches by 50 yards if you prefer. Claiming to both look and feel like fabric, it utilizes a wet and gone application. Available at an excellent low price, this is also suggested as an ideal solution for lace items as well as those free-standing embroidery designs.
Customers of the Vilene Stabilizer highly rate this product as holding up immensely well to more intense stitching and machine sessions while disappearing with just a touch of water to leave behind some of the most perfect results each time.
World Weidner’s Stabilizer gains our vote for the Best Embroidery Stabilizer for Baby Clothes. A precut stabilizer type, this purchase offers no less than 100 individual stabilizer sheets which are tear away for the easiest of uses.
Smaller sheets are ideal for many projects, including those more delicate and reduced material requirements of baby clothes. A medium-weight stabilizer, these are a mere 1.8 ounces each sheet and all measure 12 inches by 10 inches in size. This means they are the ideal solution for all those 5 inches by 7 inches hoops. Primarily designed for use on an embroidery machine, this is a high-quality stabilizer which can tear easily in either direction. World Weidner is known throughout the industry as a premium brand.
Customers of the World Weidner Stabilizer find this works exceptionally well on the machine but more so highly rate its sheer practicality of fitting standard 5-by-7-inch hoops with ease.
This H.B.I product is our choice for the Best Tear Away Stabilizer. A value stabilizer, this is fantastically low priced. With the ability to be removed easily from the material it’s stuck to, this is ideal for those tear away projects. Complete on a roll for ease of access, this is a medium weight which offers a mere 1.8 ounces. It also comes in a size of 12 inches by 50 yards.
The design of a tear away stabilizer ensures that no matter what size of your intended project, you are assured of no waste when it comes to selecting this stabilizer. You simply pull the amount needed off the roll and tear off where necessary when completing your design. Therefore, these types are great for smaller and mini-projects, and you can eliminate any waste.
Customers of the H.B.I Embroidery Stabilizer find this ideal for those smaller of projects, claiming it tears away neatly and efficiently.
The Sulky Sticky Self-adhesive and Tearaway Stabilizer makes our list for the Best Embroidery Stabilizer for Knits. This is the ideal solution for those more delicate of items that are embroidered on the machines as well as those smaller, more intricate items. This product is designed for allowing easier and better looking embroider action on smaller areas of clothing. This includes that such as edges, button rows, pockets, collars, cuffs, and ribbon. The idea here is to prevent any basting to the stabilizer itself.
This stabilizer is available to purchase as one pack, two-packs or three-packs, and each pack measures 8.25 inches by six yards. A tear away type which is self-adhesive, this can be placed in or under your hoop and is perfect for computerized machine embroidery.
Customers of the Sulky Sticky Stabilizer find it thoroughly easy to use and an excellent buy for some of the more specialized of projects.
What we liked:
Ideal for hooped and computerized machine embroidery
Our choice for the Best Embroidery Stabilizer for Bathrobe Projects is SuperPunch’s Peel and Stick Stabilizer. It’s available to purchase in two size rolls of either eight inches by 25 yards or 12 inches by 10 yards. At just 2.0 ounces in weight, this is also an eco-friendly choice of stabilizer due to its make-up of recycled cellulose and polyester.
This super solid product works wonders with its needle friendly formula and serves many a hoopless and clamp-type application. Ideal for those projects such as socks and towels, this will not leave any residue and offers the highest of quality for all application types. It’s also the swifter of choices due to its simple tear away design.
Customers of the SuperPunch Peel and Stick Stabilizer find this the ideal solution for those more robust and difficult of embroidered items, claiming it works well and doesn’t gunk up the machine’s needle.
What we liked:
Needle friendly formula
Two sized rolls available
What could be better:
Slightly higher priced than other types
Things to Сonsider
Now that you’ve had time to read through our most highly recommended embroidery stabilizer choices, you may have a better idea of the best one for your sewing needs. But, before you make your decision, why not take a few minutes to read through our short but useful buying guide? This is where we expand a little more on some of the features mentioned above, detailing those most important of elements a little more. We also suggest here what we feel you should ideally be looking for in your purchase. This, alongside with our ratings and reviews, should help you select the correct embroidery stabilizer for all your sewing projects.
Deciding on what stabilizer you need
Before making your purchase, it’s advisable to know what type of stabilizer you need for your current project. There are many factors to consider here to ensure the correct choice. These include whether you’re manually embroidering or using a machine, your fabric type, and the size required for the project.
Do you need different stabilizers for manual and machine embroidery?
Though most embroidery stabilizers are aimed at using on the embroidery machine, you can of course use and indeed select the best stabilizer for hand embroidery. An excellent example of this is the Sulky Stick N Stitch Stabilizer.
Stabilizers are however designed in mind for machines to take the brunt of the force when machine stitching. This is when the fabric is the most vulnerable, and therefore the correct stabilizers will release the stress of the action while holding the material as flat but also as inflexibly as it can.
What fabric do you want to stabilize?
You may be working on one specific fabric or a whole range of fabric types. However, certain stabilizer types work better on particular materials. Thus, consider what fabric you’re going to be using before purchasing your stabilizer. As guidance:
Cut Away Stabilizers – Best for those stretchy fabric types
Tear Away Stabilizers – Best for those more stable fabrics
Wash Away Stabilizers – Better for freestanding laces and napped fabric types
Adhesive Backed Stabilizers – Ideal for those harder to hoop items
More on stabilizer types
In general, there are four types of stabilizers, making it that little bit easier when it comes to making the right selection! This includes cut away stabilizers, tear away stabilizers, wash away stabilizers, and finally adhesive stabilizers. Each one has its own unique offerings and works to provide those best results on a range of different fabric types.
One of the more common types of stabilizers, the cut away tends to be used on those fabric types that have a stretch to them. The best stabilizer for embroidery on t-shirts, it’s also ideal for those items that are perhaps lightly woven or have a stretch to them such as denim, twill, knit fabrics, polo shirts and jerseys. It’s also ideal for those fabric types such as spandex and lycra, which are often the harder to sew on accurately and neatly due to their increased stretch.
Even if your fabric is very dense, cut away stabilizers will do a good job here, effectively stabilizing sweatshirts, sweaters, fleece, and swimwear.
Another popular choice tear away stabilizers are ideal for those woven fabrics which have no stretch and are once again available as several product types including heavy, medium and light as well as ultra-clean and tear and fusible stabilizers products. Ideal fabrics for this include canvas, linen, vinyl, towels, leather, poly/cotton fabric, and quilt fabrics. The idea here is to gently tear away from the stitches – but not into them. It also easily tears in any direction. This means no need for crisscrossing your stabilizer when you use multiple layers. The H.B.I Tear Away is an excellent example of this stabilizer type.
As simple as the name suggests these stabilizers will wash away instantly from the fabric, leaving no residue. This makes them ideal for those fabric types that need the stabilizer completely removing, including cutwork, freestanding lace, and freestanding applique design. They’re also the best leave-in embroidery stabilizer for cotton choices. The Vilene Water Soluble Stabilizer is an excellent example of this type.
Check out this video explaining the types of stabilizers that can be used for machine embroidery.
How to choose the size?
Most stabilizers are available to purchase on a roll, so you may need to gage an estimate of your projects to ensure you have enough stabilizer to cover your fabric in full before buying these. Some stabilizers also come in pre-cut sheets, such as the World Weidner Tear Away Stabilizer. These are ideal if you have projects that will fit perfectly on such sheet types.
Simply make sure to measure your intended fabric to ensure that there’s enough of your stabilizer to go around.
How to use a stabilizer?
Depending on the type of stabilizer selected, these are relatively easy products to use. For all types, place the stabilizer over the fabric you intend to sew on, ensuring a smooth, taut and wrinkle-free finishing after placing the hoop on top. Then proceed to embroider your design onto it. Each type of stabilizer will need handling differently when you’ve finished the embroidery stage:
Use the scissors to cut the stabilizer away from your design. Aim to cut away around a quarter of an inch from the design itself, taking care not to cut the fabric!
Use your hands to tear the stabilizer off gently from the design, carefully picking and pulling in-between the more intricate of stitches.
Remove as in the same ways as you would with a tear away stabilizer, and then once your fabric has been washed, this should disappear completely.
Simply peel away the stabilizer from your fabric once you’ve finished embroidering it.
For best practices, ensure you store your stabilizer in the original packaging. If not, place it in a clearly marked bag which is solely used for your stabilizer. Some stabilizer types don’t cope well or perform their best when regularly exposed to the air, so keep them in sealed bags and try to handle them as little as possible in between projects.
Stabilizers can also be used for other project types and allow for many varied creations. These include fabric and paper flowers, tote bags and different bag types such as shopping bags, handbags, beach bags, and even purses, to name but a few.
Stabilizers should not be referred to a backing because they have an essential job to do in stabilizing the garment not just when the job is complete – but more so during the process. Backing is a form of topping material and though a great help with many fabric types, can’t offer the support throughout the embroidering process. Therefore, the two are entirely different types.
In concluding, we hope that we’ve been able to highlight the need for using a good quality and correct type of stabilizer for all your embroidery projects.