Archive of ‘Stabilizer Tips’ category

Stabilizers with Deborah Jones LIVE

Happy Thursday Embroidery Friends!

Eileen and Deborah had a wonderful time getting down to the “nitty gritty” of stabilizers in their Facebook Live today. If you missed it, watch the rebroadcast below! We are currently looking for suggestions on what to call our Facebook Lives so be sure to let us know in the comments your ideas!

Get an early advantage on our Friday special and free shipping up to $10 when you use code SHIPMYCOMPASS here

The Nitty Gritty on Stabilizers

The fabric/stabilizer combo is the first step in producing professional results for your embroidery. Even seasoned embroiderers often need a reminder when it comes to selecting the right stabilizer for your fabric.  Tomorrow, Deborah Jones and I will be chatting about stabilizer in Facebook Live at 1:00 CST.

We’ll look at a variety of samples – sweater knits, wool felt, cotton, moisture-wicking fabrics, denim and more!  Deborah will ll share her 30+ years of commercial embroidery expertise and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions during the live session.

We are doing our best to improve the Facebook live broadcasts and we appreciate your patience during this growth period.  Hope to see you tomorrow, August 22, 2019 at 1:00 CST.  Go to our page and watch:


Stabilizer Hack

Recently, I’ve been stitching a ton of free-standing embroidery designs on water soluble stabilizer (WSS).  The results are stunning but I’m going through a ton of stabilizer!  The designs are best stitched on two layers of WSS so of I cut two lengths to fill the hoop, I find I’m wasting about 12″ of stabilizer per hooping.  Ugh!  Don’t you hate wasting stabilizer?

Now, I keep the stabilizer on the roll and let it sit behind (or under) the machine.   I roll out one length to cover the hoop, fold the stabilizer over to create the second layer, then hoop the two layers with the roll extending behind the top/back of the hoop.

On a traditional embroidery machine, i just place the roll over to the side of the machine leaving enough slack to avoid any drag.

On a tubular machine, I pull the excess off to one side and place the roll under the hoop.  Again, the key is to unroll enough stabilizer to avoid any drag on the hoop.  

After the embroidery is complete, just remove the project from the hoop, slice the stabilizer close to the embroidery and repeat the process.

You have to try this!


Design Your Own Fabric!

Have you always wanted to design your own fabric? Well now you can!  Let me show you how easy it is to create print-on-demand fabric.  My Fabric Design software is Inspirations’ latest exclusive offering to Inspiration dealers.  Although you can learn about it here, you’ll have to purchase it from your local Inspirations dealer.

Let’s make a plaid fabric, no drawing skills needed! Open a new file in My Fabric Design software.  Click on Canvas. MFD_1

Select Pattern to create a repeatable pattern.MFD_2 Click on Settings and enter 4 in the height and width to set the size of the repeat. Of course, you can make this any size you’d like.  Click OK.MFD_3

Click on the Artwork tool and select Rectangle from the drop down menu.MFD_4

Drag the cursor over the screen and draw a square a bit larger than the box on the screen (that’s the size of the repeat). To change from an outline, select Fill from the Type field in the Properties Box. Click Apply. MFD_4aMFD_5

Let’s draw the plaid sections. Select the Rectangle from the Artwork tool. Draw a skinny rectangle that’s longer than the blue square.  Change the color of the skinny rectangle to yellow.MFD_6

Select the yellow rectangle. Click on the Repeat Tool and enter 4 in Number Across and 1 in Number Down.  Place .24 in Horizontal distance to space the bars. Click Apply.MFD_7

Change the colors of three bars.MFD_8

Select all four bars and click on Rotate Right key once.MFD_9

Paste an identical set of bars. Click on the Horizontal mirror image key.MFD_10

Now let’s see what the fabric looks like in the repeatable pattern. MFD_11 Click on the Preview icon to view your repeatable pattern.MFD_12Pretty fun, wouldn’t you agree?

Now let’s add some text. Click on the T icon, select a font, type in a message. Size the text to fit and move it to the top center area. Extend half of the text off the blue square to so that it fills the blue diamond.  MFD_13

Click on Preview. MFD_14

Or move the text to the center of the crossed bars.MFD_15

Oh my, the fun you can have. And we haven’t even explored cheater quilts yet!  In a future post, I’ll show you how to make custom cheater quilts – think memory quilts, art quilts, ‘intricate’ blocks (that you never have to piece!) quilts!

The possibilities are endless, you can use sketches, scans, photographs, text and your own creativity to make fabric that you’ve been dreamed about. You can save your work and come back to it later.

To print the fabric, click on Send and you’re file will be exported to There you can choose from 26 substrates – quilting cottons, knits, polys, satins, silks, you name it, you’ll find it!   Your fabric will print, ship and arrive at your home in 10-14 days. Amazing!

Stabilizer Experiment

2016-07-30_16-41-18Normally, I use fuse polymesh stabilizer to the wrong side of the design area to stabilize knit fabrics. But recently, I was working on a couple of knit skirts. The brown one, shown above, is an a-line skirt and easily slips over the hip. I used polymesh cut-away stabilizer on it with satisfactory results. The second skirt, a pretty avocado green is more fitted. I really needed to keep the stretch of the skirt so it could slip over the hip. I opted to use Piece & Stitch  wash-away tear-away stabilizer instead of my usual cut-away.2016-07-30_17-06-54

As you can see, the stitches are lovely, they sit nicely on the fabric without a ripple.


This Piece & Stitch wash-away tear-away stabilizer breaks down in water leaving soft fibers in the embroidered stitches and practically vanishing from other areas. And I was thrilled with the results. The stitches are gorgeous and after laundering, the skirt has not lost any stretch.  As a bonus it’s so comfortable to wear because the remaining stabilizer is very soft.

Do not confuse Piece & Stitch wash-away tear-away stabilizer with a water-soluble stabilizer. Water soluble stabilizer means it dissolves and disappears in water. Wash-away tear-away means it breaks down in water, like tissue paper, leaving no gummy residue.  2016-07-30_16-57-43

It’s good for many uses but not a substitute for water soluble, so don’t try to make lace with it!  Normally, I use it for piecing quilt blocks in the hoop but now it’s my go-to stabilizer for stable knits.

The Tonight Show at Sew Expo? Uh? What?

If you’ve been a Johnny Carson, Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon fan – then you’ll definitely want to catch the Stitching Sisters at Friday Night Live. Sew Expo, our industry’s largest trade show, is host to this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. IMG_4109_res

Yep – the Tonight Show takes on embroidery and sewing and quilting! 2015-01-28_16-50-06

What can you expect in Friday Night Live? Well, the predictable Tonight Show fare: a host, guests and entertaining segments. The host – me along with my Stitching Sister Marie Zinno; two very special guests (whose identities will have to remain a secret for right now). And of course, the entertaining segments, I mean the unpredictable segments:

• Thank You Notes to sewing industry giants, an hilarious Friday night tradition started by Jimmy Fallon.
• An embroidery fashion show – unlike any you’ve ever seen before. You’ll learn just how crucial placement and spelling can be.
• You’ll see what NOT to do with embroidery hoops and feet.
• You’ll compete in a hilarious game of Do You Have? to win priceless – and I mean priceless – prizes!
• The Stitching Sisters Top Embroidery Tips2015-01-28_16-56-39
If you’re a current Tonight Show fan (think Jimmy Fallon), then you probably know a little about his infamous lip sinc battles. Lip Sinc Battle? Hmm. Do you think those mystery guests would be game? Tell me your favorite Tonight Show host, Carson, Leno or Fallon. A random comment will be selected to win an autographed PAL!

Our winner from last week, with a $100 gift certificate at the Sewphisticated Stitcher website is Sara R. “I give bibs and burp pads as baby gifts. My BFF’s granddaughter told us the name she was planning to use. I spelled it the traditional way rather than her way, then she ended up naming the baby something totally different. Oh well.”


Friday Night Live Feb. 27, 2015, Sew Expo runs from Feb. 26 to March 1, 2015 in Puyallup , Washington.

Fusible Web

I have a love-hate relationship with fusible web. I like to add it to the wrong side of applique fabrics, even those that will be finished with a satin edge. I love the insurance fusible web provides through the life of the garment because the applique will not work itself away from the base fabric. That’s the love part.

The hate part? The application. I always seem to struggle with fusible web. I apply the heat, let it cool (well, almost let it cool) then disaster strikes. It doesn’t release properly – oh no, part of the paper peels off with a good bit of the adhesive still stuck on it. In fact, it now looks like a hot mess – adhesive is no longer a smooth sheet – nah, it’s a jumbled mess. I hate this! I curse the manufacturer of the fusible web, (how can they put their name on this product!). I blame the store where I bought it (surely they’ve had this bolt in inventory for a century).

I stalk out of the sewing room and hit the chocolate stash. After a few moments, I realize I’m still in love with the fabrics. I still need to finish my project. I still have to get this figured out NOW!

So I walk back into the sewing room and assess the damage. Hmm. Maybe it wasn’t the fusible web. Maybe it was the iron. Oh yes…hmmm….I was supposed to apply DRY heat. Not steam. And let it cool – completely cool – before removing the protective paper.

But my iron is full of water. And when I switch it to no steam, steam still escapes, apparently too much for this task! Then it dawns on me, I need two irons in my sewing room!

I can hear you laughing as you read this, “Really? It took you 20+ years to figure this out?” I now have two irons on my board. Yep, one full of water set for steam and the other one – DRY – forever!

Embarrassingly, I actually had two irons in the sewing room. The second one was deposited by one of my college students who didn’t need it any longer. And it just sat on a shelf. Not anymore – it’s hobnobbing with its steamy partner on the ironing board – a lasting marriage. And they are both labeled. This leaves no doubt if a family member pops into the sewing room to use the iron.


Here’s what I learned from this sticky situation: read and follow the manufacturer’s directions. They really do know best.

Investing in duplicate tools makes sense – it saves you time and sanity!

Finally, label your tools – it keeps everyone in the house on the same page.

Here’s your assignment this week:

Look around your sewing room and tell us what your most unorganized area is. Don’t be shy! One lucky comment will be chosen to win the latest Stipple! Sassy Cats by Katherine Artines.

DME Blog-Ad

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

What a fascinating woman! Tell us what your favorite pastime is besides embroidery and 2 winners will be selected to win a $25 gift certificate to the Kreations by Kara website. Good luck!

DME Blog-Ad

And the winners are…Debbie P and Cindy M. Congratulations!

We’re So Proud!


Toot, toot!  Beep, beep! A special digital issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery is free for you – just click here to access. You’ll find projects, free embroidery designs, videos from our sponsors and access to leading companies in the embroidery industry.

Wondering what’s inside? It’s packed with educational material for newbies, intermediate and advanced embroiderers. Devour the expert information on stabilizers and how to embroider on ribbon, polos and t-shirts! Learn to create continuous embroidery with confidence; stitch a little something for the man in your life and develop your designer’s eye – all in this one special issue!


Download the familiar .zip file, unzip and inside you’ll find an exciting interactive Adobe Acrobat PDF file you can read and enjoy from the convenience of your desktop computer or laptop. Use the free Adobe Acrobat reader to achieve full interactivity and flip through the pages, zoom in on projects and print whatever you’d like. Use the arrows on your keyboard to navigate through the pages: advance by clicking the arrows pointing down or right while the arrows pointing up or left will take you to a previous page.

WP-IconWP-PlayLook for the mouse icon and click on it to activate the zoom feature and more.  View the embedded videos by clicking the play button and enjoy.

We made it simple to navigate, easy to view and inspirational to read – I think you’ll see why we’re so proud of our new digital issue. My hat is off to the whole Designs team for making this happen – led by Sam Solomon, Denise Holguin, Stephanie Smith and Sandy Griggs. Designs wouldn’t be here without that team – they’re awesome! I think you’ll agree when you see what they’ve created.

A very special thank you to our valued sponsors: Brother, Embrilliance, Embroidery Library, Five Star Fonts, Janome America, HoopSisters, SWAKembroidery and Urban Threads –  Enjoy!

Here’s your assignment this week:

Download our FREE digital edition of Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine. Give it a read and enjoy all of the interactivity, photo zooming abilities, videos and beautiful photography captured for each stunning project. Then, come back and leave us a comment on what you think about it – good or bad, we can take it. One lucky reader will win a gift certificate to Designs in Machine Embroidery for $25!

You can use that $25 to buy anything on our website including a 1 year subscription to our print magazine offered at the special price of $24.97 for a limited time only.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Go over and give Craftsy a looksy! Tell us what classes interest you or if you’ve already taken a class on Craftsy – tell us what you love about it. One lucky reader will receive a link for a complimentary download of Eileen’s new class, The Machine Embroidered T-Shirt!


And the winner is…“I’ve been checking out Craftsy website, and some of the free classes. My sister told me about this site, she had taken a class and loved it! I would really LOVE to win the chance to take the T-shirt class. I have a fear to try new things, but I’m sure taking the class would give me more confidence. Thanks for sharing your embroidery expertise.” – Jane B.

Congratulations Jane, we hope you enjoy your class and share your experience with us!

Nancy Zieman Hobo Bag Tour

Hobo Tote Bag Blog Tour

Hip, Hip, Hooray! Today we’re a stop on the Nancy Zieman Hobo Bag Tour. Nancy sent me all kinds of goodies

  • Hobo Tote Templates
  • Create-a-Strap interfacing
  • Magnetic snap closures
  • Bag feet and
  • a Create-A-Shape bag shaper

Lazy Girl Designs sent

  • interfacing – Face-It Soft (woven fusible interfacing) and
  • Stiff Stuff Firm (sew-in interfacing).

I used the Stiff Stuff Firm to add body to the quilted bag but truth be told, I’m hoarding the Face-It Soft for a while. I have a feeling Face-It Soft is going to do double-duty in my sewing room as an embroidery stabilizer. I’ll keep you posted on how that turns out in a later posting.

If you’ve been following the Hobo Tote Tour, you’ll notice my bag looks a bit different than all of the others. I decided to add the pocket to the OUTSIDE of the bag instead of the inside. And since I’m an embroiderer, I had to find a way to use my embroidery machine to make the pocket a bit more interesting than just a contrasting fabric.

Hobo Tote Bag

Here’s what I did. I purchased pre-quilted fabric (I cheated, I know but life is short!) and found coordinating fabrics for the appliques and lining in my avalanche, I mean, stash of fabric. Then I turned to my book, Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique, for the scallop design, ContScallopCir.

Machine Embroidered Quilting


I followed the directions on the Trace ‘n Create Bag to cut my fabrics but I cut my pocket fabric 3” wider than required. By wider, I mean from the bottom of the bag to the top of the pocket. So maybe that’s actually taller!

This design adds a facing to the scalloped edge and is so fast and easy to stitch. I opened the design in software and eliminated the quilting stitches since my fabric was already quilted.

Then I hooped the fabric in Snap Hoop (no need for stabilizer since the fabric was a pre-quilted sandwich). After stitching the appliques, I added the facing strip.

Hooped in Snap-Hoop
To make a long continuous strip, you’ll find clear, concise instructions for this method in Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique along with a video demonstration on the included DVD. Basically, I used Target Stickers to connect the designs, end to end.

Facing Strip
Once the whole strip was stitched, I trimmed close to the scallop edge and turned the facing right side out. Perfect scallops!

I basted the scalloped strip to the bag fabric and followed Nancy’s instructions for completing the tote. What fun!

Want to win one of the six blog tour prizes? Post a comment on Nancy’s site and share your thoughts about the Hobo Totes you see on the blog tour and/or about the Hobo Tote you’re planning to make. Six random winners will be selected and posted on Nancy’s site on March 2. Here is what’s included in each of the prize packages:

Clover Prize PackPrize Package 1
Trace ‘n Create Bag Template—Hobo Tote Collection
Shape ‘n Create Bag Stabilizer
Pin ‘n Stow Magnetic Wrist Pincushion
Satin Bronze D-Rings
Double-Sided Basting Tape 1″
Create-a-Strap Wrap ‘n Fuse Piping
Magnetic Snap Closure

Lazy Girl GiveawayPrize Package 2
Lazy Girl Designs is giving away a Lazy Girl Interfacing Pack that includes 1-1/2 yard cuts of Stiff Stuff and Face-it Soft ($17 value) to three additional random winners.


Here’s your assignment this week:

Leave a comment below about what topic you’d like to see covered on the blog. One lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of Machine Embroidered Quilting and Applique.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Tell us if you ever participated in a community outreach program – what did you do? Why did you participate? Did you enjoy the experience? We’ll pick a random winner next week and they will receive a $100 certificate for downloadable designs from



At, you’ll find embroidery designs with fun and exciting techniques. Our art comes from renowned licensed designers and from our own studio artists, the most talented in the industry. Digitized by experts with over fifty years’ combined experience, our designs will make your projects shine, spark your creativity, and inspire you to stitch more.

And the winner is…“My neighborhood sewing group made teddy bears with embroidered faces for our neighborhood fire and police departments to give to children involved in traumatic experiences. I don’t remember how many we actually made, but we a great time doing them!” – Patty S.

Blog Tour Finale

Wow – what a fun two weeks! We’ve given away a dozen books over the past two weeks and have received tons of comments and questions. My hat is off to all of our blog tour participants. Here’s a look at the stops:


Hoop Sisters


Think Crafts


Indygo Junction


Hope Yoder




Riley Blake


Machine Embroidery
& Digitizing


Nancy Zieman


Sealed With A Stitch

I hope you make these blogs part of your weekly web visits. I know I’m always on the lookout for inspiring ideas and fun techniques and I’m sure you’ll find them on these great bloggers.

I loved learning what embroidery tasks you find the most challenging. It seems placement and stabilizers top the list of troublesome duties. And I’ve struggled in those areas too. In fact, that’s why we invented the Perfect Placement Kit because 10 years ago, I didn’t have a clue on where to place an embroidery design on a garment! Under the guidance of Deborah Jones, we selected 15 items that embroiderers commonly decorate – shirts, linens and home accessories.

Perfect Placement Kit

Then we made templates of the items – a clear plastic template of a napkin corner for instance. The napkin corner template is universal and will work on ANY napkin! I just place the template on the napkin according to the guidelines printed on the template, then insert a Target Sticker into the hole. To be honest, it still amazes me how perfect every set of napkins comes out because I remember it like yesterday when my ‘yuck’ pile was higher than my good-to-go pile!

Perfect Placement Template

As far as stabilizer, there are so many products and brands available, it is confusing! I still get confused and I wish you could buy stabilizer like you can buy fabric using the touch and feel test. I shared this with one of Hope Yoder’s blog readers:

Always approach an embroidery project with common sense. Knit fabrics are unstable – they stretch! So control them with a cut-away which is a sturdy, strong and permanent material. Woven fabrics are more stable and tear-away stabilizer is sufficient. Tear-away comes in different weights and some rip cleanly while others leave a ‘fibery’ edge.

Sheer fabrics require stabilizer that can be permanently removed by water or heat, fiber content will tell you what direction to take.

Big, bulky impossible to hoop items need a stabilizer that will hold them under the needle – think adhesives here. You can turn any stabilizer into an adhesive by using temporary spray adhesive. Don’t be overwhelmed, use common sense and know that there are no stabilizer police. If it worked for you, then it’s fine.

I’ll share more information on placement and stabilizers in upcoming posts but for now – I have a mountain of sewing to tackle! Tell me what was your favorite project in 2012 that you created and you could win the final giveaway of Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Steps.

I have a Valentine’s Day gift from my friends at Craftsy. Click here to receive special pricing on all Craftsy classes.

Here is your assignment for this week:

Tell me what was your favorite project you created in 2012 and you could win an autographed copy of Machine Embroidery in 6 Easy Steps and the Sew with Nancy DVD.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Tell us what Valentine’s Day projects you have in the works. One lucky winner will win a $25.00 shopping spree to!

And the winner is… “I’ve been making ITH Valentine heart coin bags for my grandchildren.” – Merron Kay S.

Congratulations Merron Kay. I’m sure they will love them!

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