The Proper Way to Layer Woven Stabilizers

Occasionally, you may need to use two layers of stabilizer when embroidering designs. Is there a right way to do that? Yes, there is, and I will show you how! 

Recently, I talked about matching up the proper stabilizers to embroidery designs in this blog.  In a pinch, you may need two layers of a lighter stabilizer as a substitute for using one layer of a heavier stabilizer.

With woven stabilizers like polymesh, there will be a little bit of stretch. In addition, your fabric will stretch on the bias and we want to control that to prevent puckering.

When you're stitching your design, it's pushing and pulling on the bias as well as the straightaway. When you layer stabilizers, you want to put them at a 45 degree angle. That gives you a straight-of-grain line going right through the bias. Your stabilizer now has maximum control against stretching and distortion of the embroidery.


For demonstration purposes, I drew a line both vertically and horizontally on the stabilizer. Right angles are pretty easy. I can see that everything is a straight line on my edges.


If I'm at a 45 degree angle, I will see that all my edges have a point sticking out that's kind of a quick visual on how you can tell that you've got your two pieces of stabilizer at a 45 degree angle.

Hoop both layers of stabilizer and embroider. You can also hoop one layer of stabilizer and float the second under the hoop. Be sure to baste the layers in the hoop using the basting feature on your embroidery machine.

See the video here.

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  • Bonnie Welsh - October 16, 2022

    Kay—Just layer 2 pieces 11×20 and you’ll be fine. The layering is more to prevent stretch on the bias and your stitches won’t go to the outer most corners of the hoop. It’s okay if there’s not 2 layers for the entire hoop. Just layer the two sections as instructed above and give it a try. You’ll learn by doing. =)

  • Kay - October 16, 2022

    Hi Bonnie,

    Thanks for the reply. I am super visual so its hard for me to grasp minus the visual! Lol. So, my hoop is 8 × 12 and I usually use an 11 × 20 piece. So to do it this way I would need a whole 20 × 20 piece to co er the entire thing diagonally, then what do I do with the 11 × 20 piece? Also diagonalize it but not worry about the gaps? When I was first asking in a group about this, very few people had knowledge, but some suggested this diagonal way, and others suggested horizontal/vertical. I am only almost a year into embroidery and not versed well enough to know the difference. Lol

    Thank you!

  • Bonnie Welsh - October 14, 2022

    Kay—You only need the top stabilizer piece to be larger than the entire hoop, the bottom rotated piece of stabilizer can be smaller as it just needs to be a bit larger than the design area. Maybe only the corners of the bottom layer will be hooped. However, if they’re basted together in the hoop, they will work as one layer. Clear as mud?

  • Kay - October 14, 2022


    I recognize that this is quite an old video but I appreciate that you did it because it’s the only one I could find! My question is is there another way to do this as efficiently? My hope is 8 × 12, so to do this crisscross method of double layers requires to 20 × 20 pieces! Unless I’m really missing something? Also very possible ha ha

  • Bonnie Welsh - August 05, 2018

    I only drew the lines for demonstration purposes. I don’t normally draw lines on my stabilizer either. =)

  • Thank you for the info! - August 04, 2018

    I do get confused, when you should use double layers, I never drew the lines as you did, I always use the center lines on my hoops. But its a great idea to do so.

  • Bonnie Welsh - August 02, 2018

    Freda—I’d try either two layers of medium tear away (at 45 degree angles) or one layer of heavy weight tear away stabilizer on the back. Then I would add a wash away on the top. I would also baste all layers together in the hoop (including the towel of course) prior to stitching as that helps hold everything in place. =)

  • Freda Smith - August 02, 2018

    What is best stabilizer for thick towels with dense fonts. Thank you

  • Bonnie Welsh - August 01, 2018

    Bev—You’re most welcome. =)

  • Bev. - August 01, 2018

    Thank you. I always turned each piece in opposite directions, but now see the 45 degree might be better.

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