Is stabilizer required when embroidering canvas tote bags?

Backing is not only an aide in stabilizing the item you are about to embroider; it is also an aide in hooping properly. By stabilizing the fabric as it is hooped, the right stabilizer will prevent stretching, puckering, and distortion. Use a piece of backing that extends beyond the sides of the hoop, so that it is secured along with your bag within the hoop. One of the nicest aspects of embroidering bags is that the bags tend to be sturdy enough to allow for the use of a tearaway. This is usually a favorite since it saves on production time.

Canvas bags are a tight enough weave that they will not noticeably stretch during hooping and a medium, 1.5-oz. tearaway backing will work well to stabilize hooping and help the design last as long as the bag. Rarely will a water-soluble topping be necessary for embroidering on tote bags. But, if the design itself appears light and there is any chance of stitches being “lost” in the fabric, it would be a good decision to use a piece.


Alice Wolf

Alice Wolf

Manager of publications and education for Madeira USA. Alice has marketing expertise developed through accomplishments in publishing, public relations, and sales within art, home decor, film, and television production. Email her at

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Charlie Fox

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