Pucker up!?!

So, stabilizing. I have to admit that it’s something with which I haven’t had many problems. When I got my first embroidery machine, a Brother 7000, the gal in the shop just slipped a piece of stabilizer under the hoop. Until I learned better from fellow embroiderers on the Internet that’s the way I did it too. Not being familiar with special embroidery threads, I also used regular sewing thread. I did a lot of things I would never even consider doing today but, surprisingly, those items didn’t look bad, at least to my “unschooled” eyes.

There’s lots of advice about stabilizing in books and magazines and on many embroidery web sites. I can only tell you what I usually do and my methods might not work for you. First of all, you have to accept that embroidery designs are not one size fits all. A large, dense design will not stitch out nicely on a silk blouse no matter what you do. Conversely, small, light designs just won’t work on terry toweling. Stabilizers are also not one size fits all. I have a very heavy stabilizer; my friends refer to it as my linoleum tile stabilizer. I use it rarely, but sometimes I’m doing a large design on a sweatshirt and I need it. In that case I the stabilizer, spray it with temporary adhesive, smooth down the sweatshirt, lightly spray a clear wash-away topper with temporary adhesive and smooth that on top of the pile.

For very lightweight fabrics, I hoop a very lightweight stabilizer, sometimes more than one layer, spray and stick. As you may have noticed, I rarely hoop any garment or fabric. When I do hoop fabric, I spray the stabilizer, smooth the fabric over it, lay the outer hoop on a stable surface, lay the stabilized fabric over it, then lay the inner hoop on top and push down firmly with both hands. I do not pull or stretch the fabric. In fact, I hoop plain stabilizer the same way. Laying over the outer hoop and pushing down the inner hoop firmly with both hands. I think that pulling on hooped fabric and/or stabilizer can cause puckering around the design when the fabric is released from the hoop and springs back to its original size. As for felt, well, felt is VERY stretchy. Definitely stick it down.

I do use a lot of sticky stabilizer. I stick it right to the back of my hoop and up the outside. I know you’re supposed to hoop the stabilizer and then carefully remove the paper backing from the design area. In my experience the paper backing is slippery and may move around in the hoop. I like everything nice and, well, stable. Yes, the hoop gets messy. Sometimes I squirt it with Goo Gone, apply a scrubby and then wash with soap and water or put it through the dishwasher. Usually I toss it in a drawer so my messy hoop can be my little secret.

I don’t know if I’ve helped at all, but I hope knowing how I do things, even if unorthodox, helps a little.

Until next time, I wish a splendid 2014 to you all,


Ann (used to be the gran)


Comments (3) -

Thank you for these tips.  We think a lot alike - - if that does not scare you, nothing will!

Just to add something to what is said here, I prefer to place my adhesive stabilizer into the hoop and tighten it up just a little.  Then I remove the hoop and what is left is a perfect bowl of where to cut out the cover paper.

I figured that out once when I did not remove enough cover paper and my design slipped!

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

tourlady522 1/24/2014 9:05:09 PM

Thanks for these tips Ann. Nice to see you back on here too.

Bonnie Abbott


New to this game of embroidery!  What is the correct way of a monogram? (First inital, last inital, middle initial?) Also what is a "keyboard font"?  conman44

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