The Perfect Embroidery Combo: Matching up Designs, Fabrics, and Stabilizers


Embroidery stabilizers can get pretty confusing. And it is really frustrating when your project does not stitch out like you planned. These guidelines will help you get better results by matching up the right stabilizers for your fabric and designs!

Matching Embroidery Designs to Fabrics

Painted Poinsettias designs have a light fill
and work well when stitched on lighter weight fabrics.

When you are working with an embroidery design, match up your design with your fabric first. What do I mean? You don't want to embroider a design with 100-thousand stitches on chiffon because chiffon is a very lightweight, fluid fabric. Something with a 100-thousand stitches is going to change the hand of that fabric completely.

With the lighter-weight fabrics, you want to stitch a nice light design, like an outline or redwork design, something that's nice and fluid and very low density. With the heavier fabrics, you can get away with a heavier design.

Designs with lots of fill stitching, like the Spooky Buddies, need a bit more stabilization and stitch beautifully on a sturdy fabric.

So if you're embroidering denim, does that mean you can't use a lightweight design? Absolutely not. I've seen jeans that have redwork going up and down the pant leg and it looks great. I’ve also seen some pretty dense designs going up and down the pant leg too.

Matching Stabilizers to Embroidery Designs

Once you have matched your design to the fabric then you're going to match up your stabilizer to that design so that it holds up well and doesn’t change the hand of your fabric. Generally speaking, the design stitch count dictates the stabilizer weight you should use.

There's not that much of a price difference between a medium and heavy weight stabilizer or a light and medium weight stabilizer.

So what constitutes a light, medium, or heavy weight stabilizer?

You can simulate a heavier weight stabilizer by layering a couple of lighter stabilizers together. It’s okay in a pinch, but making a habit of using two layers of a lesser weight stabilizer means you are spending twice as much money.

I am not talking about a topper. To me, a topper is not specifically a stabilizer; it is not really stabilizing a job. It holds down the nap of a fabric during embroidering so that your stitches don't sink out of sight.

So, if you have two layers of stabilizer underneath the fabric and a topper on top, the topper doesn't count as layer number three.  If you were to add another layer of stabilizer, you might want to bump up the weight of your stabilizer and save yourself some money.

See the full video here.


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  • Bonnie Welsh - August 01, 2022

    Robin—You’re most welcome. Glad you found the tips helpful. =)

  • Robin L Charles - August 01, 2022

    Thanks for these stabilizing tips Bonnie. I’ve been in a bit of a stabilizing nightmare lately and this really helped.

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 28, 2018

    Colleen—Thank you for your kind words! I’ve always felt that we learn from each other. Also, as new items become available on the market, new techniques become available. Sewing and embroidery seems to always be a “work in progress” for learning and growing. =)

  • colleen morangreat imformation - June 27, 2018

    love your insites on some of my selections with stabiliser the most informative in my 10 years of embroidery

  • Susan Cramer - June 27, 2018

    You clarify this very nicely.

  • Bonnie Welsh - June 27, 2018

    Toni—You’re most welcome Toni! =)

  • Toni Hazell - June 27, 2018

    Thank You. Bonnie

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