Choosing a stabilizer for appliqué and stand-alone embroidery

Which stabilizer should I choose to create stand-alone embroidered appliques as described in the lettering post last week?

Tear Away:


A crisp tear away can be very nice because you just tear the letter out and tear the stabilizer away from behind the fabric when the applique is finished. You don’t need any fancy tools or scissors. Just tear.


There may be some fibers that stick out from the edge through the satin stitches on the applique.

THE FIX: If you have a Sharpie or other permanent marker, you can run the marker along the edge of the stitches to color the fibers to match the thread and POOF, everything blends together and looks beautiful.

Wash Away: (be sure to use a mesh or fabric-type wash away)


You can cut the letter out when finished and then wash away the extra stabilizer, so all stabilizer disappears and none shows along the edges, or you can run a damp Q-tip along the edge to dissolve all the little bits sticking out.

OR – you can use a heat cutting tool to cut out the applique for lovely, clean edges. Any remaining stabilizer can come out in the first wash.


Use only on either embroideries that will be washed before applying, or will be applied to washable projects.

You will want to wash the stabilizer out of your project for most applications because you do not want it getting wet unexpectedly and getting stabilizer goop or stiffness on your project. Plus, you do not want to leave the wash away stabilizer in the project if you are adding a fusible web and using an iron on it. That would make a big mess. So, as long as you wash out any excess stabilizer, this can be a good way to go.

Polymesh Cut Away:


Again you can use a heat cutting tool to cleanly cut out the applique for a lovely edge when finished, and you can leave the stabilizer in the project, even if adding a fusible web to the back.


The stabilizer will stay in the project, changing the hand of the fabric. You do need a heat cutting tool for this to work well. You can also use scissors, but you will rarely get all the stabilizer cut away. Just like with the tear away, you can use a maker to color the excess around the edges, but it will be more noticeable with the cut away in most cases.

My choice:

I usually prefer the cut away. I do use a heat cutting tool, so I get a clean edge, I like that the stabilizer gives the applique a little more body, and it is usually cheaper than a mesh wash away stabilizer, which is my second choice.

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