Embroidering on Towels – Toppers

I have enjoyed embroidering on towels for a long time, but today I learned something new about toppers.

Water Soluble Stabilizer:

I have used Solvy, a clear, plastic-like water soluble stabilizer, as a topper, as well as fabric-type stabilizers like Dissolve Magic, but did not like how the terry loops would work their way through the stitches over time and after several washings.  So, although this technique is commonly recommended, I do not use these to hold down the loops.  I do, however, use WSS if I have lots of jump stitches.  I will lay down a piece right before stitching the color with all of the jump stitches, making the jump stitches easier to cut on the top side.

Tear-Away, Wash-Away Stabilizer:

Oops.  I only made this mistake once.  With Tear-Away, Wash-Aways, the stabilizer mostly washes away, leaving little fibers behind in the stitches.  This is great for leaving support at the back of an embroidery, such as the back of the towel, where I DO use this kind of stabilizer with great success, but it is not very pretty on the front.  Do NOT use this as a topper unless you want the special effect of little white fuzzies all around your embroidery edges.
Heat-Away:

I probably didn’t use this correctly, and I should try it again, but when I used it once, the stabilizer reattached itself to the terry cloth loops and did not fully melt away.  I had trouble fully removing the stabilizer.

MY FAVORITE:   TULLE.
I love using tulle or netting  in a color to match my towel as my topper.  It holds the loops in place indefinitely and tears away nicely from the embroidery edges.  I also find that although some of the edges do not tear away cleanly, the tulle threads hide in the terry loops and can be neither seen nor felt.  I may need to trim a couple of places a little bit with tiny scissors, but not much.  I have also noticed that my tulle does not need to match my towel color exactly, only be close, which means I can use white, black, and several generic colors for all of my towel embroideries.

That said, today I learned that not all tulle is created equal.  I grabbed some bridal illusion to use as my topper today, and found it did not tear easily at all.  In the past I had used the tulle you usually buy for most general purposes, and mistakenly assumed all tulle would tear well.  I guess I’m glad to know that beautiful, sheer bridal illusion is actually very strong, but I will avoid it in the future for use as a towel embroidery topper.

A good test is to snip a small cut in the edge of the tulle fabric with scissors and see if it tears easily or not.  If not, choose a tulle with larger holes.

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