Embroidery Do’s and Don’ts – Making Stable Choices

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Avoid common machine embroidery pitfalls.
D E B O R A H   J O N E S

Making Stable Choices
How do you know when you have enough or the correct stabilizer? This embroidery faux pas is at the top of the list. It’s the most common reason for outline stitching shifting from the main embroidery. It also can cause embroidered fabric to appear puckered or stretched. The two primary factors influencing stabilizer selection are the fabric and the design.

Determine if the fabric is stable or unstable. Stable fabrics typically are woven rather that knitted. Examples include most bed, kitchen and bath linens, shirting, denim, poplin and other similar goods. Note: Certain loosely woven fabrics, such as lightweight flannel and toweling, aren’t firm enough to be in the stable category. Based on their low thread count, they have more give and should be treated as unstable fabrics for embroidery.

You can successfully embroider stable fabrics with a tear-away stabilizer, unless the design has a great deal of dense stitching and outlining. In this instance, select a cut-away stabilizer of a weight that can properly support the embroidery during the stitching process and stand up under normal use and cleaning methods.

Knitted fabrics, such as those used in T-shirts, sweatshirts, infant sleepers and sportswear, are examples of unstable fabrics. The textbook treatment for this fabric type is to embroider it in a conventional two-ring hoop backed by a cut-away stabilizer that is hooped along with the fabric.

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