What stabilizer gives the best results?

Stabilizers, or backings and toppings, are probably the most agonized over of all embroidery choices. This agony is perhaps due to there being so many from which to choose. This chart summarizes which way to lean, depending on the item or fabric you need to stabilize during the embroidery process. And the illustration of the two basic fabric types also suggests stabilizer choices:

  • When the fabric is stable, use a tearaway backing
  • When the fabric is stretchy, slippery, or unstable in any way, use a cutaway
  • When the fabric is lightweight, never overpower it with backing, or you’ll create the badge effect
  • For a large design with thousands of dense stitches, use a heavyweight stabilizer
Garment – Fabric Thread Stabilizer Needle Specialty Products
Badges/Emblems Any Heavy Tearaway Sharp Point Crinoline
Tote Bags – Canvas Any Medium Tearaway Sharp Point
Bath Robes – Velour Any Washaway Ballpoint Topping
Belt/Dog Collar – Nylon Webbing Any Stick-On/Peel & Press Sharp Point
Blankets – Fleece Any Washaway Ballpoint Topping
Caps – Structured Polyester Heavy Tearaway Sharp Point
Caps-Knit – Heavy Knit Any Washaway Ballpoint Topping
Dress Shirts – Blend Any No Show Cutaway Ballpoint
Dress Shirts – Cotton Any No Show Cutaway Ballpoint
Golf Shirts – Knit Any No Show Cutaway Ballpoint Topping
Golf Shirt – Piqué Any No-Show Cutaway Ballpoint Topping
Jacket – Denim any Medium Tearaway Sharp Point
Jacket – Fleece Any Medium Cutaway Ballpoint Topping
Jackets – Nylon Any No Show Cutaway Ballpoint
Jeans – Denim Any Medium Tearaway Sharp Point
Linens – Light Woven Any Washaway Ballpoint
Performancewear Garments Rayon No-Show Cutaway Ballpoint
Sweat Shirts – Heavy Knit Any Heavy Cutaway Ballpoint Topping
Sweaters – Heavy Knit Any Medium Cutaway Ballpoint Topping
Sweaters – Light Knit Any No Show Cutaway Ballpoint Topping
Towels – Terry Any Washaway Sharp Point Topping



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 [email protected]

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