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The Basics of Water Soluble Stabilizers

In this post from our embroidery backing series, we’re going to focus on the basics of Water Soluble embroidery stabilizers.

If you haven’t used a wash-away stabilizer before, it’s going to be exciting for you to get started! Basically, water-soluble, or wash-away, stabilizers are designed to dissolve when they get wet. How cool is that, right?! So if you’re embroidering and you don’t want the stabilizer to show, even on the wrong side, then your best choice for backing is wash-away stabilizer.

You can find wash-away stabilizers in a few different forms:

  • a clear plastic-like film
  • soluble fabric-like mesh or
  • soluble paper-like wash-away tearaway.

At the bottom of this post, you can find a few different types of wash-away stabilizers and toppings we offer.

You can use wash-away stabilizers for free-motion or programmed computerized embroidery. For free-motion work, they’re great when you’re working with fabrics that may be difficult to mark. With wash-away stabilizers, you can draw your design right on them to create your own stitching guide!

When it’s time to wash the stabilizer away, be sure to return to the directions. Some require a certain water temperature and some don’t–it varies. It’s always best to consult with the directions before soaking your embroidery in the wrong temperature of water!

Some also require multiple rinsing to completely remove the stabilizer. In some instances, you don’t want to remove all of the stabilizer, depending on your project type. For example, if you are making one of the popular lace bowls, you will only rinse once so you can leave enough stabilizer to have the firmness to create the bowl.

Remember, because wash-away stabilizers dissolve in water, they’re only designed for temporary support for your embroidery. They’re great for delicate, even mesh-like, fabrics, but they’re also great for appliques and cutwork. Some wash-away products even have a self-adhesive surface, allowing “hoopless” embroidery.

When certain wash-away stabilizers are exposed to the air, they can become stiff and crisp, so storing them in a Ziploc bag or coffee can will prevent this from happening. But make sure you still have the directions handy for when you’re ready to use the stabilizer! Stay-fresh tubes from Exquisite eliminate this problem entirely, with the clear durable tubes keeping the instructions visible and the product fresh and ready to use.

You should also consider the number of stitches in your embroidery designs when selecting your wash-away, just as you would when selecting any stabilizer. You may need a more substantial wash-away, such as a mesh-type, or even multiple layers.

And remember you won’t want to use a wash-away stabilizer if you’re working with fabrics that are highly sensitive to moisture. In this instance, you could use an alternative stabilizer that can be completely removed, such as a heat-soluble or traditional tear-away.

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!

Do you have a great tip to keep in mind while we’re using Wash-Away Stabilizers? Share it in the comments below!

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