10 Commandments of Machine Embroidery – Thou Shalt Hoop Stabiliser

Hello and welcome to the 4th instalment of our 10 commandments of machine embroidery series.

Today I am talking to you on a subject to which I can become a little “preachy” about.  Hooping your stabiliser.

It has always amazed me that after spending thousands on an embroidery machine, hooping up what is generally quality fabrics, we are happy to “cheat” on preparing the fabric for embroidery, and then wonder about the consequences.

I have heard and seen embroiders who are so eager to save a few cents they will only cut the stabiliser to the side of the design, and place it under the fabric, and even those who like to collect the scraps, and sew them together to form new stabiliser (I don’t recommend this, as you will end up with different thicknesses of stabiliser on the one project, and the back of your design will begin to look and feel messy).

I was initially taught to hoop, as many of us were in the early 2000’s “drum tight”, with at least one layer of heavy Tear Away stabiliser, no matter what the circumstances, and I am not a fan of this type of hooping, as it can distort the fabric, however in 99% of circumstances, I will hoop my fabric and stabiliser together for the best embroidery results.

The other side of the argument involves “floating” your fabric over the hoop with stabiliser, and “basting” or pinning your fabric to the stabiliser on the hoop.

This is a perfect solution for tough fabrics, such as thick towels, or fabrics like velvet which would receive hoop burn marks if you used the traditional methods.

However for regular stitching, you will get a much better result from hooping your fabric and stabiliser together.

In order to show just what a difference you can make using this technique, I have stitched two identical designs, one with the fabric hooped together with the stabiliser, and the other where only the fabric is hooped, and the stabiliser is floated underneath.

Whilst the differences are not glaringly obvious, you can certainly tell with the “floated” sample that there is much more puckering around the design.  Whilst this is only a slight distortion, this is also only a small design.  In a larger design, with more stitches, the fabric would pull around the design much more, and appear much more puckered.

Stabiliser is there to Stabiliser.  It needs to have the opportunity to stabilise the fabric, as well as the design, and the best way to do that is through hooping the stabiliser and fabric together.

My tips for hooping your stabiliser, and not wasting tool much money with it are:-

  1. Lay the hoop over the stabiliser, and cut approximately 1” all around the edge of the hoop (I am always eager to hoop, and will cut 2” to make it easier on myself.
  2. Use a single layer of good quality, easy tear stabiliser.
  3. If your design is dense, use a second layer of stabilizer on top of the design, placed at a 90 degree angle to the bottom piece, which will give maximum support, and allow you to easily tear off the top of the design once completed (like a template).

Thank you for allowing me to share these tips with you.  I hope you are enjoying this series.

Until next time, have a Stitchin’ Day.  Julie.


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