Embroidery support! You may think that I am talking about online support or software support or answers to questions you may have. Nope, not that kind of support! I am talking about embroidery support or supporting the actual embroidery with the correct stabilizer – that kind of support. Supporting the stitches is the foundation of your embroidery – and with all foundations, it is better to have a solid strong foundation to build your stitches and embroidery designs.
Why do we need to support the embroidery stitches?
There are quite a few reasons why we need to properly support the stitches. The first reason is how your machine will stitch out your embroidery work. If you don’t have the proper support, your material may stretch or move when you are embroidering your design. Fabric that moves, even a tiny amount could mean that your design is completely out of registration, and that will mean that your design looks terrible when you take it off of the machine. Your lines won’t match up, and your fill stitches won’t be close enough to outline stitches. Strange things can happen with unsupported embroidery – you can have movement, you can have a lot of movement and you can also have some bird’s nests (bird’s nests can happen for other reasons too, but unsupported embroidery can be one of them). A bird’s nest can be messy and usually ends up in starting your design all over again – sometimes the thread gets pushed down, and sometimes it also takes the fabric with it, and you have to cut your hoop away from the machine – been there, done that! And you end up with a hole in your fabric and a mess of threads. Part of the general idea of hoops and embroidery machines is to provide a stable platform for the embroidery to be stitched out – the better that platform, the better the embroidery. Think about it this way, if you take a piece of paper and hold it on each side and hold it up, you will see the paper bend a little – now try writing on that paper! It is not going to turn out nice, right? The paper is not supported properly. Now take that same paper and add a thin piece of cardboard under it. The paper does not bend or warp anymore, does it? And you can create beautiful writing on your fully supported paper. Same concept with stabilizers – provide support for your material so you can do your embroidery artwork on it.
Please, no puckering!
You can have the best digitized design, and your machine will hate it if the stitches are not supported properly. True story – you can test it for yourself, too. If you take an embroidery design and stitch it on some thin quilter’s cotton with one piece of tear-away, and do the exact same design, on the exact same fabric with cut away – you are going to see the difference! Depending on your design, you may see registration issues, puckers or even messy lettering! The puckering on a finished design will make the whole design look off – or wrong in some ways – it certainly doesn’t look as nice, that’s for sure. I prefer to take my embroidery off of the machine and have it look great! This especially counts if you are doing a shirts or other clothing – you want it to look good right off of the machine, and you want it to stay that way too! I don’t iron much, and I would really dread it if I had to iron everything that I stitched just to make it look presentable. No thanks, I am far too busy for that! Puckering can be caused by other reasons (long satin stitches, or digitizing density issues), but the main problem is improper stabilization. Proper stabilization goes along with learning your hooping skills – and if you master both, it WILL show in your embroidery, and it WILL show in your embroidery after the garment has been washed numerous times.
Perfect embroidery for the long run
When I embroider a sweatshirt or a t-shirt, or anything really, I have my mind set on the embroidery looking great after years of wear and tear. And it is true! Part of giving your embroidery proper support is so that the initial stitching looks great, but it will also look GREAT wash after wash. If you embroider a design on a towel with just WSS (water soluble stabilizer) that gives the stitches a tiny bit of support (hardly any, in my opinion) what happens when you wash it away? Where is your support now? You just washed it all away. The answer is, there is no support. Well, so it looks you know, OK, now, but what happens when you wash it? All you have now is thread, knots, bobbin and in a towel, nothing more – there is no structure and no stitch support. And if you don’t have structure and support on something, what do you have? Not much, really. Once you take that support away, it is just thread and towel, and you really can’t expect the stitches to stay exactly where you put them, can you? Or the embroidered part to stay flat? There is nothing to keep the stitches flat if you wash it away, right? So support your stitches at the embroidery machine, and for the future. I have “argued” with a few people on this one, and they say their towels look great for customers, and yes, they sure do – they are ironed and folded and pressed with a ribbon, but what happens after the customer takes them home and actually uses them? They are disappointed, that is what happens…they don’t like how it looks, the design is not flat and the lettering is bumpy and looks stretched out. They don’t come back for more, do they?
There are so many stabilizers, how do I figure it all out?
Research, trial, and error. By research, I mean search the internet and find out the information for yourself. Go to large companies that have been around for 10+ years (or more) and follow their advice and watch the tutorials. Try it for yourself, see the difference. But please do your homework first – do it yourself. If you ask in a group (lol other than my groups, of course, I will let you know the industry recommendations, not “my way”, I will tell you the tried and tested 30-year industry standard recommendations) you will get tons and tons of answers. Be determined to be the best embroiderer you can be and learn the skills – just because someone says “don’t use stabilizer” or “I put WSS on everything” and the much dreaded “float the item on stabilizer” (oh gosh, please don’t float anything. Like ever. Never ever.) doesn’t mean that it is the correct way, and it doesn’t mean that they are selling that item embroidered that way to returning customers. So do your own leg work and learn the skills required for your craft. THEN try a few different ways and see how you like it.
If you own Hatch, then there is a fast and wonderful solution to all of your stabilization woes.
It is called AUTO FABRIC, and it is a wonderful, eye-opening tool available in Hatch. Hear me out on this one, it is worth it’s weight in gold! It is super simple to use. Pick your fabric that you are using for your design…and BAM…just like that Hatch tells you exactly what stabilizer to use. There are no more questions, no more trying to remember what stabilizer is best for what fabric – Hatch makes recommendations to you. Listen to them – do them – and have better embroidery. If you find some type of fabric that isn’t on the list, then you can create your own auto fabric – and you will have it right in front of you so you can remember the correct stabilization for your chosen fabric. No more guesswork, it is right there. Awesome right? It certainly helps!