Your guide to embroidery stabilizers and backings

Stabilizer guide main image

Stabilizers are an essential part of machine embroidery. These thin layers of backing material keep your fabric from stretching or puckering during the stitching process.

Knowing which stabilizer to use for your projects is a skill which you can master with practice. In our stabilizer guide below we explain the different stabilizers available, what they're made from and when to use them.

Softaway (tearaway)

A softer, lighter tearaway for woven fabrics (e.g. apparel and crafts). Easy to hoop, doesn’t perforate and tears away easily and cleanly.

Non-woven polyester, wood pulp, PVA | 55gsm

Buy softaway (tearaway) 20" x 10yd roll

Fusible softaway (tearaway)

Softaway with an added low-melt-point fusible layer. Ideal for difficult or slippery woven fabrics (e.g. satins, sateens and poplins).

Non-woven polyester, wood pulp, PVA, olefin | 55gsm

Buy fusible softaway (tearaway) 20" x 10yd roll


The universal stabilizer. Use one layer underneath stretchy, knitted fabrics (e.g. polos and sportswear). Hoop with the garment or float the garment on top. Then trim the excess backing away after stitching.

See-through cutaway

A soft cutaway ideal for lightweight, soft drape and opaque fabrics. Very stable, but almost invisible from the right side the fabric. Ideal for in-the-hoop projects and quilt blocks. Trim back close to the stitching on the underside of garments. Our pick for polo shirts.

Fusible see-through cutaway

Same as the see-through cutaway but has a fusible low-melt-point resin that easily adheres to the fabric with a warm iron to prevent scorching. Best for particularly light, difficult and more fluid type fabrics.

Non-woven polyester, low-melt adhesive

Buy fusible see-through cutaway (20" x 10yd roll)

Iron-on paper

Prevents unstable fabrics losing shape during hooping. Apply with a hot iron and hoop together with a layer of tearaway or cutaway. Peel and tear off the excess. Ideal for polycotton blends and tight weave poplins.


Supports stitches during embroidery, then completely dissolves in warm water. Ideal for lace, free-standing designs or sheer fabrics. The suggested hooped stabilizer to use when embroidering on towelling. Can be used with or without fabric.

Water-soluble non-woven PVA | 50gsm

Buy washaway (20" x 10yd roll)


Holds down the nap of the fabric, preventing stitches from sinking in. Place on top of fabrics like towels, suede, spongy knits and piled fabrics. Tear the excess away and dissolve remnants with water.

Water-soluble PVA film | 35 micron

Buy supersolv (20" x 10yd roll)

Double-sided tape

Tape used to embroider fabrics without hooping. Apply the high-tack tape around the outer edges of the design and secure the fabric. Use the low-tack tape on the inner edges and the underside of the embroidery hoop to prevent hooped fabric from slipping during the embroidery process.

Hot melt web

Clear, iron-on webbing used to bond fabrics together. Perfect for applique and welding craft fabrics to each other. The web-like double-sided glue has paper on one side for heat application. Ideal to use with the ScanNCut.

Hot melt film

A clear, heat-set film ironed on to an embroidered design to create a badge, which is then ironed onto fabric. The plastic film-like double-sided glue has paper one one side for heat application.

Pellon Peltex ultra firm fusible

Ultra-firm single-sided fusible is a smooth, heavyweight stabilizer for accessories, crafts, home decor, machine embroidery, bags and more. Apply with a damp cloth for 10-15 seconds, pressing firmly.

Filmoplast adhesive embroidery paper

Non-heat bonding of fabrics before embroidering. Ideal for difficult placements of embroidery and stabilizing high stretch fabrics. No gumming of the embroidery needle and perfect to use with Durkee and EZ frames.

Download a printable stabilizer guide (PDF, 145KB)

Buy stabilizers in our online shop