Machine Embroidery: Stabilizers vs. Interfacing

Are stabilizers and interfacing interchangeable?


Last time, we discussed whether or not it is a good idea to substitute household items for stabilizer. Stabilizer is an essential foundation for great embroidery. You can have a lovely design and if it is not stabilized properly according to the fabric and the stitch count, it doesn’t matter how nice the design is. It won’t stitch out well.


Most stabilizers are soft and flexible, yet strong, allowing your embroidered item to maintain a natural drape and comfortable feel. Depending on your project, you may use tear-away, cutaway, water-soluble, or heat-away stabilizer.


Within the different types, there are various weights of stabilizers which depend upon the kind of fabric you are embroidering and stitch count of your design. You can read more about that here.


After embroidery, most stabilizers are trimmed, torn away, or removed by using heat or water. They support the embroidery stiches and keep them under check.


Interfacing is permanent. It supports the fabric and is especially useful as a baking for lighter-weight fabrics to help prevent puckering from embroidery.

With applique, when darker colored fabrics are positioned behind lighter colored fabrics, interfacing like ShapeFlex 101 fused to the back of lighter colored fabrics helps prevent darker fabrics from showing through and creating a kind of shadow.

Stabilizers are hooped with your project. Interfacing is ironed onto the back of your fabric before hooping it with a stabilizer.

Interfacing is not a substitute for stabilizers and stabilizers should not be used to replace interfacing. They serve two very distinct purposes but can sometimes be used together. Stabilizers support the stitching and interfacing supports the fabric.


Debbie SewBlest

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