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Guide To The Three Main Machine Embroidery Stabilizers

 This article is brought to you by Lizzsews.



Here is everything that you need to know about the three main machine embroidery stabilizers.

Stabilizers are important in machine embroidery; they prevent puckering and support the fabric. 

The stabilizer goes underneath the fabric you are embroidering. Although there are some stabilizers that will go on top of certain types of fabric, this is called a topper. 

A bottom stabilizer is always needed, you can never embroider without stabilizer, but a stabilizer topper is only needed for certain blanks.

The three main types of stabilizers are cutaway, tearaway, and wash away. 

The first is a cutaway stabilizer.

A cutaway stabilizer can be used on clothes and many different types of fabric.

The cutaway stabilizer is permanent and is mainly designed for knit fabric. It is non-woven and helps get rid of pulled or sagging stitches. 


The cutaway stabilizer has a lot of stretch resistance and stays intact after wearing, using, and laundering.


Some people use cutaway on the back of towels too. I use cutaway the most, and you can purchase it pre-cut, or in rolls. 



Whimsical sun embroidery design from lizzsews facebook group stitched out
This design was stitched out on fleece, using a cutaway stabilizer. Design can be found in my Facebook group for free.

The second is a tearaway stabilizer.

Tearaway stabilizer is just what it sounds like. After embroidering, you can simply just tear it away!

It's a lightweight stabilizer and is kind of like paper. Tearaway is mainly used on woven fabrics.


It’s very convenient if you have a lightweight design (not dense) because you can tear it away and you don’t have to have a stabilizer showing on the back. 


Many people will double up on (use two layers of) tearaway stabilizer.

Recommended read: What is tear away stabilizer

Third, the last main stabilizer is a wash-away stabilizer. 

Wash away, or water-soluble stabilizer is designed to dissolve when it gets wet. It can be used for both backing and topping; but is mostly used as a topper.

This stabilizer is mainly used on towels or material that the design might sink into. Wash away is mainly used to prevent the embroidery design from sinking into the fabric.


Recommended read: How to hoop and embroider towels


Wash away can be found in a few different styles:

  • It can be a wash away, clear plastic-like film
  • It can be a paper-like tear away wash away
  • And it can also be a wash away fabric like mesh
Remember that some wash-away stabilizers require a certain temperature for the water. 

Recommended read: Troubleshooting fixes guide

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