Sewing Tips,  Stabilizer Series,  Sulky Education,  Sulky Embroidery Club

The Stabilizer Series – More Questions Answered


I mentioned that you guys sent in a ton of great questions, right? Well here is the second installment of the Q and A. I have learned so much from finding the answers to these questions! I have also learned that there is not one right way. The things that I suggest in these answers may not be your go-to way to solve an embroidery problem. If you would do it differently, please let us know by putting it in the comments below. The best way to learn is when we all share what works for us.

I used a sticky stabilizer once and it was too hard to get off. I tried to get it off right away after embroidering?

I had this happen once too and wouldn’t you know, it was on a scarf that I was monogramming as a gift! I later realized that I should have used Totally Stable™ or Tear- Easy™ with KK 2000™ because the scarf fabric was just too delicate and couldn’t handle the strength of the Sticky+™. I was so excited to not have to hoop, that I didn’t think about getting the stabilizer off afterward.  Any self-adhesive stabilizer can become more difficult to remove the longer it remains.  We suggest removing it within an hour after application. And it gets more sticky with heat and less sticky with cold.  If I want the attributes of Sticky+ but don’t want to use a self-adhesive, I use KK 2000 and Tear-Easy on the wrong side of the fabric first, then put it on top of Sticky Plus. When I remove it, everything comes off very nice because the Tear-Easy is on top of the Sticky + protecting my fabric. That means no residue adhesive. Another tip – there is a product called Goo-Gone™ which will usually remove any remaining adhesive, but sometimes a sticky-backed stabilizer is not the best choice for some projects.  You can always use any of our stabilizers and KK 2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive.

I have a medium-weight polyester knit, and I want to applique shapes that are cut out of Ultrasuede® all over the fronts and back. The knit is very stretchy, I need to use my walking foot, and I will be turning the fabric quite a bit and I need to temporarily stabilize it to eliminate the stretch. The key word is temporary in terms of the stabilization. The only stabilizer I can think of is the sticky wash away? Your suggestions please.

Sticky Fabri Solvy would work, but if you don’t want to get your project wet, then you could use Tear-Easy and adhere it to the wrong side of your base fabric with KK 2000. The KK 2000 will keep the Tear-Easy in place and will dissipate on its own after a few days or immediately with a hot iron.  Normally for knits, we suggest a permanent stabilizer, like Soft ’n Sheer, which would be adhered the same way and then trimmed close to the stitching.

Bonus Tip when working with Ultrasuede: Suede-type fabric cut-outs normally need to be fused in place and stabilized or they will stretch as they are stitched. Trace or transfer the designs onto Steam-a-Seam 2™, remove the protective sheet and place on the wrong side of the suede. Cut the designs out and stick in place. Press Totally Stable on the wrong side of the shirt to stabilize for stitching. That last pressing step is usually enough to fuse the cut-outs in place. If it didn’t then use a press cloth to protect the suede as you fuse them in place. Careful with the iron and heat. Any suede can be damaged by high heat or the direct heat of an iron. If you are satin stitching the appliques, test, test, test. If the stitching is too close together it will actually cut the suede. DO NOT USE LEATHER NEEDLES. Leather needles will cut the suede. I prefer universal size 90 or topstitch 90. If needed, use Sewer’s Aid on the needle. That helps the needle to glide through the suede.  (Test to be sure it doesn’t stain the suede.)

My favorite things to embroider are T-shirts and sweatshirts. I have used Totally Stable for years with good results, sometimes using 2 layers. I’ve read instructions lately for using a cut-away stabilizer for sweatshirts. What do you do for the stiffness leftover, especially for babies and children?

As a general rule, most embroidery professionals use a tear-away stabilizer on woven fabrics and a cut-away on knits or stretch fabrics. That being said, if Totally Stable works for you, you are allowed to keep using it! (That’s what we used before we had cut-aways.) I am blessed with two amazing little girls that are very picky about what can touch their skin. Thank heaven for Tender Touch! Any time I embroider anything for them, I trim the backing stabilizer as close to the stitching as I can and then I cover the entire back with Tender Touch. I cut the Tender Touch out with pinking shears or a wavy-blade cutter and use steam when adhering it to the back to ensure it adheres well.  I have been told that the Cut-Away Plus gets very soft and cushy once it’s washed, but even if I did choose to use a Cut Away Stabilizer, I would probably still cover the back of the embroidery with Tender Touch for children or babies.

What stabilizer to use if the project will touch skin and you want it to be soft?

The stabilizer you choose depends much more on the fabric and the embroidery design, but if it is touching the skin, I would always finish it off by covering the back of the embroidery with Tender Touch.

When should I use 2 sheets of stabilizer instead of just one for best results?

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could give you a hard and fast rule for this one? Unfortunately, I can’t. My best advice is to do a test stitch out on the same or a very similar fabric to what you will stitch the final one. If you can’t do a test for some reason, then I would always use more, than less. Let’s face it, stabilizer is less expensive and easier to buy than having to repurchase the fabric or blank that was messed up because we didn’t use enough stabilizer. Another good tip is to have a piece of Tear-Easy ready when you start stitching out your design. At the first sign of any puckering, slide that extra piece under your hoop.

How many stitches in an embroidery design would dictate more than one layer of stabilizer?

It has more to do with the fabric and quality of the design than the number of stitches.  It’s better to err on the side of too much rather than too little.  But remember, even the best stabilized and digitized design may not “drape” nicely on a fabric that is too light for a dense design.

So, this is looking like a very helpful, educational blog – stabilizers!! Can you tell me, what stabilizer do I use to fuse wool to wool, or wool to flannel, so that I can hand or machine stitch with applique stitches?

If you simply want to fuse the two pieces together just long enough to sew them together, then I would suggest KK 2000. It works great on all fabric types, including wool and flannel. It will give you a strong enough hold to sew the pieces together but doesn’t add any extra weight and doesn’t change the hand of the fabrics.  If you want a permanent fuse, you would need to use a fusible web.

Why is it that some tear-away stabilizers (including Sulky) don’t tear away cleanly? Or destroy stitching when removing them? Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid them?

In my ever so humble and completely unbiased opinion :), Sulky stabilizers do a better job than most. Always tear your stabilizers toward the design, not away and if you are using more than one layer of stabilizer, tear them off one at a time. And remember, tear-aways are not intended to disappear, just tear away nicely. They aren’t intended to be invisible like water solubles.  If you have bits left over they will soften and may come away with launderings.  Hint about water solubles:  When you are using a wash away, it may help to dip the end of a cotton swab in water, squeeze out the excess, and then run that at the edge of the stitching. This will dissolve away enough of the stabilizer to help it tear away cleanly.

I need to know if there is a soft-hand stabilizer that is adhesive on both sides.

Sulky currently doesn’t make a double-sided adhesive stabilizer. If I did want a fusible stabilizer with a soft hand, my choice would be Tender Touch or Soft and Sheer Extra. Both have one side that’s fusible. You could use KK 2000 to temporarily adhere the second side, or use a fusible web, such as Steam-a-Seam 2™ on the other side (For lighter weight fabrics, Steam-a-Seam Lite would work well).  But fusible webs do add thickness and reduce drape ability.

Could you recommend a stabilizer to use when embroidering relatively thin cotton fabric to embroider small (half inch max) text on labels for quilts?

I went and asked some experts in the commercial embroidery business this question and they suggested using Totally Stable for this.  And you might want to use the Sulky 60 wt. PolyLite™ Thread as well to get crisper lettering, and less bulk.

I just had an embroidery machine given to me and I’d love to know more about the whole thing! What should I get to start with on the machine? Do I start with a certain fabric, stabilizer and threads? or what??????? Help!

I remember this feeling like it was yesterday! I remember when I first started playing with my mom’s embroidery machine. I had no clue what I was doing. My suggestion is to start with some scrap fabric that you already have, Sulky Tear-Easy and some Sulky Rayon 40 wt. Thread in your favorite color. Look at the built-in designs on your machine and just start stitching a few things out! See how they turn out. I started with some old t-shirts and tote bags that I didn’t care if they didn’t turn out perfect and put a monogram on them. You also might find it helpful to keep a little notebook nearby so you can write down what worked and what didn’t. The main thing is to have fun!  The best reference for determining which stabilizers for which type of fabric is the book, “Sew, Craft, Quilt and Embroider with Sulky Stabilizers” #900-B19.  It’s written in recipe format, and easy to follow with great projects and pictures.


Super Cialis

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