Substitute Embroidery Stabilizer? Stick to the Good Stuff!

Picture of machine appliqued sea crab with large eyes at Sew Inspired by Bonnie
(Sea Buddies pictured above.)

Do you cringe when you see social media posts by machine embroiderers who stitch on coffee filters and dryer sheets or similar substitutes like food wrap? How about using hair spray instead of spray adhesive? While they may get you by in a pinch, it is always best to use stabilizers and products designed specifically for embroidery. (Note from Bonnie: Quality stabilizers have been thoroughly tested to give you the very best results with the longest life for your precious projects.)

Bonnie has provided some great resources for determining the correct stabilizer to use depending on the stitch count of the design and the type of material you are embroidering. You won’t find any of the above suggestions here.

Machine Embroidery Stabilizer Substitutions

I recently read a social media post touting alternatives to machine embroidery stabilizers. Some suggested using coffee filters, Press’n Seal or plastic food wrap, freezer paper, and waxed paper.

Of these, freezer paper was even said to be recommended by a few dealers as a stabilizer ironed on the back of fabric and then floated in the hoop, typically on a sticky-back stabilizer. I’ve never tried it but if you have to use an adhesive-backed stabilizer to hold an item with freezer paper ironed on the back are you really saving any money? Why not just use an iron-on stabilizer you can hoop?

Many dealers recommend against such substitutions as they can gum up or even damage your machine and may cause warranty problems.

Stabilizers vs. Interfacing

Interfacing is not a substitute for stabilizers. They serve two distinct purposes.

Most stabilizers are soft and flexible allowing your embroidered item to maintain a natural drape. After embroidery, stabilizers are trimmed, torn away, or removed by using heat or water. They support the embroidery stiches.

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

Other Ways to Save Money

You can always reuse stabilizer scraps instead of throwing them out or use leftovers of wash-away stabilizer to make your own temporary spray adhesive.

Just like buying bulk prewound bobbins, buying stabilizers in bulk can save you a bundle.

The adorable crab feature image is from Bonnie's Sea Buddies!

Debbie Henry
Sew Inspired by Bonnie

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