What stabilizers do I need to get?

The Economical Embroiderer Series: Stabilizer

I have had fun doing the research to become an Economical Embroiderer! 

This week we are talking about stabilizers, and how to be economical with stabilizers.  Some people will go to extreme lengths to save a few pennies on stabilizers, and I am not going to suggest any of these solutions – I will briefly talk about them and why I don’t suggest following those suggestions, but that is going to be it on that subject.  I don’t really want to ruffle those darn feathers today!

START OFF WITH THE BASICS:  When you are starting off building your stabilizer stash, it can be quite overwhelming because there are so many options out there.  Where do you start, let alone how do you save money?   In this situation, my advice would be to start with the basics so you can get doing some embroidery.  The basic stabilizers are cutaway, tear away and WSS (water-soluble stabilizer).  That’s it!  3 rolls and you can get started on any embroidery.  Now there are different weights, sizes, cuts and so many other options for each kind of stabilizer.  I say go for the middleweight and get the fabric type WSS stabilizer, that will get you going.

THE BIGGER THE BETTER:  The only way to really be economical with stabilizer is to purchase the stabilizer in bulk – the bigger the roll the more money you will save.  Again, stick with the basics on cutaway and tear away.  You can really save a lot of money if you purchase larger rolls of stabilizer – for production purposes, we purchase huge rolls of 500 yards of tear-away stabilizer – it’s a massive roll – I only wished it lasted longer!

USE COMMON SENSE AND KNOW YOUR PRICES!  you always have to be careful when making ANY purchases – use common sense and of course, know your prices. If you are purchasing large rolls, make sure the price per yard is less than the smaller rolls.  Also, use your common sense – make sure that what you are purchasing is actually used for embroidery – that is super important – and make sure you will use that particular stabilizer.  Some people have purchased large rolls of stabilizer only to find out that they hate how it hoops or the end results in their hoop.  For that reason, spend the extra money and don’t worry so much about being economical, and purchase a SMALL ROLL of that stabilizer before you purchase the large roll.  Test out the type of stabilizer and make sure it is useful for you – and once you decide that it is, THEN purchase the large roll.  Having a large roll of stabilizer that saved you money and you hate using really is not saving you money in the end, is it?  Know your prices and make sure you are getting a good deal – some stores will just make it look like you are saving money – know your prices and make sure it is a great price.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ROOM FOR LARGER ROLLS:  Yeah, that may seem like a stupid thing to say, but some of the economical rolls can be very large – larger and heavier than you think!  You must be able to use the large rolls, and you must be able to store them somewhere.   In our workroom, we have a large strong table that can support the weight of the roll, and a cutting board underneath it so that we can cut the sizes that we need.  If you don’t have a set up like this,  you may not be able to use a large roll effectively.  Make sure you have room in your workspace and make sure you can get at the stabilizer easily when you need to!

REMEMBER YOU PAY FOR CONVENIENCE: If you purchase pre-cut stabilizer of any sort – even perforated stabilizer of a certain size, remember that you are paying for that convenience.  Sometimes it can be a lot more money per square if it is pre-cut!  Now I am not saying that pre-cut stabilizer is not economical – it certainly can be under some circumstances.  Production would be a good example of when the pre-cut cutaway stabilizer is economical.    If you need to stitch say 40 shirts on your 4×4 hoop, it will save you tons of time to just grab a perfectly sized square of stabilizer and then hoop and go.  In that example, the extra cost of the pre-cut stabilizer is saved in time.  Time is money, and if pre-cut stabilizer will save you time, it will save you money too.  I have a bunch of pre-cut stabilizers left over from our t-shirt production days, and I seriously rarely use it!  It does look great sitting on my shelf though – almost inviting me to do some 4×4 designs once in a while just to use it up!

NOT RECOMMENDED:  Here is where some feathers may get slightly ruffled – but remember this is just the writer’s opinion here.  I don’t think anyone should bother stitching scraps of stabilizer together to be economical, for any reason.  The stabilizer in your embroidery is the foundation of all embroidery – the foundation of your hooping and material.   If that foundation is weakened for any reason (such as running stitches holding it together), then your embroidery is going to be “weaker” as well.  If I have larger pieces leftover from other jobs, I will cut them into 6 x6 squares and save them for the 4×4 hoop, but the rest of the scraps won’t fit into any other hoop,  and those small or medium pieces need to be thrown away.  Remember that your foundation is everything.    Being an economical embroiderer is great, but I don’t think you can take shortcuts with your stabilizer foundation.

KITCHEN PRODUCTS ARE NOT STABILIZERS AND ARE NOT DESIGNED FOR EMBROIDERY ON YOUR EXPENSIVE FINE-TUNED EMBROIDERY MACHINE.  Enough said, right?  Foundations, foundations, foundations.   Coffee filters are for coffee, and you don’t make coffee on your embroidery machine….or do you?

Great embroidery starts with great products that will ensure that your embroidery looks great for a long time!

Until next time,

Sue