As if stabilizers aren’t confusing enough, throw embroidery toppers into the equation. I will help you figure out why toppers are valuable and when you should use them.
While stabilizers go on the back of embroidery, toppers go on top. They are pinned or basted in place and used to keep stitches from falling down into the nap of the fabric.
Toppers are especially useful when embroidering on a towel or fake fur or, sometimes, even a knit. You may not think of knits as having a nap but they can be kind of spongy and you don't want the stitches to fall down into that density. The topper provides a base for your stitches to sit on so they don't sink. There are two kinds of toppers: those that are removed with water and those that are removed with heat.
Normally, we wouldn't use a topper on cotton fabric. I have found that using a topper with teeny tiny lettering or tiny designs gives you a smoother stitch out when stitching on cotton.
Types of Embroidery Toppers
Most people are familiar with the wash-away variety of topper that looks a bit like plastic wrap (above, left). There is also a fabric-type wash-away (above, right). After the excess topper is torn away, the rest washes out. Most any stabilizer company sells water-soluble toppers.
A friend of mine, Julie Ford, turned me on to Inspira Clear N’ Melt by Husqvarna Viking. This one can also be torn away at the end. What’s left is melted away with an iron.
I don't apply a lot of heat because I don't want to flatten out my stitches. I just want the topper to go away. In places where it is left in the stitching, just touch it with the tip of the iron and it disappears. Heat-away toppers will not leave residue on your iron.
Some heat-away toppers have a textured back to help prevent slippage. Otherwise, they look exactly like the water-soluble variety so it’s important to keep them marked accordingly. Because they tear away cleanly, heat-away toppers also work quite well with freestanding applique embroidery.
When I'm done with the topper, stabilizer is removed from the back of the embroidery. Then, I will use starch and steam when pressing the embroidery from the back.
You can see the full video here.
May your day be blessed with perfect stitches and GlitterFlex!!