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The Basics on Tearaway Stabilizer Embroidery Backing

Stabilizers, also known as backing, are an important ingredient in embroidery. Stabilizers support the fabric that is being embroidered, and should be held along with the fabric completely in all edges of the embroidery hoop.
There are many embroidery stabilizers available, but you don’t want to use anything low-quality. You also want to use the right kind to keep your fabric as stable as possible. Fabric shifting can be the worst problem of embroidering and can easily be avoided if you choose the proper stabilizer for your fabric. Sometimes experimentation is necessary, but using the wrong kind of stabilizer can be costly.

When deciding what type of stabilizer to use, you need to consider what you’re embroidering. We’re going to do a series of posts on embroidery stabilizers, but for this post we’ll be focusing on Tearaways.

Tearaways are the stabilizer of choice for embroiderers using stable fabrics. Stable fabrics are defined as those that don’t stretch much, if at all.

The Tearaway material makes removing any excess stabilizer easy! It’s also cheaper and safer than using a backing you must use scissors to cut. It eliminates any risk of cutting the fabric or embroidery with scissors (let alone yourself!), and makes removal a breeze. That cuts down on embroidery time and helps you finish your product faster and easier.

There are several different types of Tearaway stabilizers. In this post we will be covering Soft, Firm, and Tear and Wash stabilizers.


Soft Tearaway is generally used in embroidery with a higher stitch count. This type of Tearaway comes in Medium and Heavy weights. The weight of the stabilizer determines how dense the embroidery stitch count can be, so a heavier fabric can support more stitches.

Compatible fabrics:

  • Vinyl
  • Fleece
  • Silk Charmeuse

Firm Tearaway is easier to tear than Soft Tearaway, as it is crisper and less pliable. Like Soft Tearaway, it comes in different weights depending on your desired stitch count: Light, Medium, and Heavy.

Compatible fabrics:

  • Quilting Cotton
  • Nylon
  • Denim


You can also get Tear and Wash stabilizer. Tear and Wash offers excellent stability and tears easily in all directions. When you wash your embroidered fabric, this type of stabilizer dissolves away! Tear and Wash is ideal for any project where you can see the back side of the embroidery as well as the front.

Compatible fabrics:

  • Lightweight Nylon
  • Gauze
  • Terrycloth

Be cautious when using tearaway backing on delicate or stretchy fabrics, like loosely knit sweaters. Pulling on a Tearaway stabilizer on a delicate fabric can cause distortions in your design!

There are plenty more stabilizers that enhance different types of fabric, helping you embroider that perfect design! We will be featuring other types of stabilizers on this blog, so stay tuned for more!

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