Fortunately, manufacturers have developed wonderful, lightweight, moisture-wicking materials to keep us dry and comfortable in this record-setting heat. Unfortunately, stabilizing these materials is not as simple as other knits. In addition to being very thin, they also have more stretch than typical shirt-weight knit fabrics.
There are a couple of secrets that I can share with you. One is the best stabilizer to use and the other is about hooping technique for these fabrics.
The manufacturers of these fabrics, such as Under Armor, use heavy cutaway stabilizer to control these materials. Check out the embroidery done by the manufacturers on their own shirts and you are likely to see multiple layers of heavy cutaway. While the embroidery does look good, the downside of this approach is that it is incompatible with the weight and intended comfort factor of these lightweight fabrics.
I have had success using the No-Show Polymesh type stabilizer with these fabrics, but I recently became aware of another solution that I like a lot. Bedsheets! That's right - old bedsheets make great stabilizer for this fabric type. Woven stabilizers have always had wonderful stabilizing properties but they fell out of favor many years ago, manily for reasons of cost when nonwoven products became widely available.
Some large manufacturers are now using woven poly/cotton type stabilizers for this type of fabric, although they aren't using bedsheets. But if you have a set of sheets that's seen its better days, go ahead and give this option a try. It works well with many unstable materials, but it just could be the magic bullet for some of your most troublesome embroidery materials.
Next is the issue of hooping technique. Spray the woven stabilizer (the bedsheet) with a light mist of embroidery spray adhesive. Then, let the technical fabric "settle" over the sprayed backing. Gently finger press the fabric to adhere it to the stabilizer. Then hoop, without recessing the inner hoop. Normally, it's desirable to push the inner ring through the outer ring to place the fabric close to the machine bed and to gain good fabric tension. In this instance however, recessing the inner ring only serves to stretch this lightweight material.
As long as you have appropriate design data, your embroidery on this difficult material should be beautiful.
For ideas for dealing with other difficult materials, visit my web site to get my book, Machine Embroidery on Difficult Materials".
May embroidery always bring you joy -