Remove Water-Soluble Topping - The Easy Way

Everyone has their own way

If you're like me, you've read several tips about removing water-soluble topping. Everyone swears by their remedy to removing the tiny pieces of the gummy stuff that sticks around in those small spaces. Some methods work better than others. Some people like to roll moistened excess topping into a sticky ball and roll it across the embroidery surface to pick up the small bits remaining. Some use steam. Before learning this trick, my go-to method was mixing one part of fabric softener with twelve parts water in a spray bottle. This mixture dissolves WST much more quickly than plain water alone, and it leaves a nice fresh scent.

When water won't work
Sure, it's convenient that the topping can be removed with something as simple as wetting with water, but there are plenty of reasons that we sometimes can't get the item wet. Perhaps it's a water-sensitive material or maybe you're just running late to the baby shower. These times when you need to keep the item nice and dry are the reason I love this new-found (to me) method. 

Who knew?

 but just last year - after decades in machine embroidery - I learned about the silver bullet for topping removal. I wish I could remember who showed me this technique because I would love to tell you here. I think it may have been Ellen Osten, education director for Sulky. In any case, we all continue to learn from each other because no one ever knows everything there is to know about the art of embroidery.

It's so simple...

The technique is amazingly simple, and makes perfect sense once you know it. Just moisten a paper towel, place it over the area where the topping needs to be removed, and press over the paper towel with a medium heat setting on a household iron. When the towel is lifted, the topping sticks to the moist towel, partly because it clings to the textured surface of the towel.

Repeat if needed

If all of the topping isn't removed on the first try, just place the towel again and repeat. If you love this technique as much as I do, you will be repeating it almost every time you use a topper!

Comments (4) -

What a good idea.  Does anyone have any great solutions for the heat removable toppers?  I have not had good luck with those recently and wondering if maybe the topper has gotten old?

It seems that for me I must touch the topping directly with the heat source. I use my little Clover applique iron for the small openings. I think it's just the way it is with the heat-soluble topping.

I tried using your damp paper towel and iron method.  I now have not only a sticky mess but I have paper toweling stuck to it.  I have used much WSS  through the years embroidering free standing lace and always just rinsed it away, usually leaving some behind to stiffed the lace.  Now I used it on a wall quilt top which I really didn't want to launder.  I seems to me that a tub of water is the only way.  I will try your water softener addition to the tub.    

dolosew1 - I am wondering if you were trying to get out small, medium or large pieces. As I read her tip, I am thinking only small pieces like between the words or in small nooks and crannies.

Everyone has their method and I think perhaps you have a unique issue.  Perhaps daubing the paper towel might work better. Since you don't want to 'wash/soak' your fabric, you may have to do more mini-scissor trimming.

Issues such as humidity can affect your project as well. If you live in Florida for instance, you have more situations like your stabilizer may have absorbed more water from the air. Keep that stabilizer in something reasonably air tight. I live in San Diego and I can tell the difference because we have low humidity, normally around 20 to 35%, but when a storm is on its way, it rises and the stabilizer is absolutely different.  

Let us know how things are going with that project and how you resolved your issue.  I did write a blog on how to remove 'heat away' type stabilizer using a standard 'Kleenex' type tissue.  See it here:  

While you are at that link, be sure to pick up the freebie for non-violence.

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