5 Substitutes: What Can I Use Instead of Fabric Stabilizer?

There are body types that don't like stabilizers. Their skin is very sensitive to different materials and stabilizers just rub those skin types the wrong way. While fabric stabilizers provide support for sewing, they don't have to remain on the cloth afterward.

What can I use instead of fabric stabilizer? Fabric stabilizer may be essential to embroidery projects but you can also use different fabrics instead of a stabilizer. Cotton, sweatshirt materials, fleece, flannel are all good alternatives to fabric stabilizers.

To find out more alternatives to fabric stabilizers, just continue to read our article. It explores this issue so you can have fewer worries and less frustration. In sewing, there is always a good alternative.

What Can You Substitute For Tear-Away Stabilizer?


As you know tear-away stabilizer is called that because once you are sewed your design, you simply tear the stabilizer away and leave the design behind. As luck will have it sometimes, you will run out of the real tear-away stabilizer and left in a dilemma.

What can you use instead of the real tear away stabilizer? There are several options and they come from your local supermarket not your fabric or sewing store. Not everyone will agree with using these alternatives but they are alternatives to consider.

The first one is coffee filters. They are light, flimsy, easy to tear and all you have to do is use your iron to flatten them out and then pin into place. After you are done sewing, coffee filters are easy to tear.

Plus, coffee filters should not mess up your needle. Then you can use baking paper. This option is the one without any wax on it and it should be just as easy to tear away as a coffee filter.

Finally, you can use wax paper as a good replacement for tear-away stabilizers. But be forewarned. Replacements for tear-away stabilizers tend to mess up your sewing or embroidery machine. You need to be careful about which alternative you use.

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Best Fabric Stabilizer Substitute


Probably the best fabric stabilizer to use is based on the weight of your fabric. Matching the weight is the important factor when looking for a fabric stabilizer because your designs will turn out better and look great.

That means you need to use a lightweight fabric stabilizer substitute when you are working on lightweight fabric. A heavier substitution will work best on heavy fabrics. Then as stated above, just about any fabric will make a good alternative when you run out of fabric stabilizer.

Being able to use fabric that you have lying around the house ensures that your sewing project does not get delayed. It will also save you a little money as you do not have to run out to the store and buy more.

In some cases, a no show mesh should work well or a water-soluble stabilizer that washes away while leaving behind some fibers so your project doesn’t lose its shape.

Alternative to a Water-Soluble Stabilizer


One alternative is to be creative. One sewer used hospital laundry bags to create her water-soluble stabilizer. She found that the brand name water-soluble stabilizers became too expensive to use so she decided to make her own.

With a little brainstorming, it is possible that you can think of simple items like that to replace your go-to water-soluble stabilizer. If you like the brand name options then Badgemaster and Vilene are two excellent choices.

The latter comes in 3 varieties, pre-cut pieces, rolls, and peel and stick. You should be able to find one that fits your working style without too much difficulty.

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Why Use Embroidery Stabilizer


There are very good reasons why you should use an embroidery stabilizer. Generally, you need these items when you are using your embroidery machine. The stabilizer helps keep your fabric stable, steady and able to accept the stitches better.

With lightweight fabrics, a stabilizer helps stop the pucker that may come due to the flexibility of the fabric. Stitches pull at the fabric and will ruin its look if you do not add the stabilizer.

The stabilizer also keeps the integrity of the stitches while holding the fabric nice and flat. This helps you to avoid making mistakes and keeps your embroidery project from being ruined.

The alternatives to real fabric stabilizers only help produce low quality work. You need the right stabilizer if you want a very good looking result when you are done. Then the stabilizer protects the fabric from the stress that is created by your embroidery machine.

The fabric was not made to be embroidered so it needs help and that is what makes fabric stabilizers so important.

When to Use Embroidery Stabilizer

The best time to use a fabric stabilizer is every time you sit down at your embroidery machine and embroider those fabrics you like. Since fabric was not made to be embroidered, a good stabilizer is essential if you are going to do your embroidery work with a machine.

If you are new to sewing there are 4 types of stabilizers you can use. Each one has a specific task and may not work with every fabric you want to sew on. Here are the 4 types:

  • 1. Cut Away- this stabilizer works with stretch and unstable fabrics
  • 2. Tear Away - this option is for the woven more stable fabrics you like
  • 3. Water Soluble - used on a cut or digitized lace, stand-alone work, organza, and similar projects and fabrics
  • 4. Heat Away - this one is used on those non-washable fabrics, delicate and edge work

Just keep in mind that these are the 4 categories and in each section, you will find many subsections of stabilizers. This means that you have lots of choices available to you when you seek out a good stabilizer to use.

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What is Embroidery Stabilizer Made Of


Each company will have its way of making their brand of stabilizers. For one company they make theirs in an omni direction manner giving the stabilizer strength no matter which direction it is pulled in.

Their stabilizers are non-woven and do not stretch. The fibers used are put through a process that turns them into one smooth layer. This makes the stabilizer very flexible as there is no grain to worry about.

Other companies will use polyester and viscose fibers to help strengthen their stabilizers. Then some are created from non-flammable materials. It is going to depend on the company how each different stabilizer is made and while there may be some overlap in processing, there are also subtle differences that help them stand out from the competition.

For the water-soluble stabilizers, you may find them made with mesh, a plastic film or paper-like material. In all cases, water will make them disappear when they are not needed anymore.

You should check the label to see if any of the stabilizers are missing those safety features you want to see on your children’s clothing.

Is Embroidery Stabilizer the Same as Interfacing


There may be some people who may think that stabilizers and interfacing are the same but there are some differences that keep them from being confused. One of the main differences is in their purpose.

Stabilizers are usually designed to be temporary sewing aids. Interfacing is designed to be a permanent addition to your sewing project. The interfacing only comes in the woven or non-woven design.

Stabilizers have at least 4 main designs and countless sub designs in each of the 4 main sections. On top of that stabilizers are made to be firm and not flexible in all directions. Interfacing may stretch in one direction and be firm in another.

Also, stabilizers are made from a variety of materials including cloth and interfacing is always made out of cloth. Finally, stabilizers are generally used for embroidery on embroidery machines only.

Interfacing can be used whether you are sewing by hand, or by machine. These are the basic differences between the two sewing tools and those differences keep both distinct from each other.

Can You Remove Embroidery Backing?


When push comes to shove calling embroidery stabilizer backing is like saying tomayto or tomato. They are the same thing using different terms to describe what they do.

That means that yes you can remove embroidery backing from your embroidery project. All you have to do is decide which backing you will use. You need to make sure you use the right one for the project or you may have a little difficulty removing the backing.

The backing has the same removable techniques as described for stabilizers above. There is no trick to removing it, just make sure you do so at the right time so your project turns out looking great.

Some Tips for Stabilizer Use

It always helps to get a few tips when embroidering for the first few times. These tips are designed to make your use of stabilizers easier and better.

  • 1. A temporary spray adhesive attaches your stabilizer to your hoop and lets you remove it easier
  • 2. Alternative stabilizers like dryer sheets are not good for your machine. They may be cheaper and easy to access but you may cause yourself some expensive repairs when using them
  • 3. The embroidery design you have chosen to do will guide you in the selection of your stabilizer. A solid stitch design should lead you to a medium cutaway stabilizer. A running stitch should guide you to a sheer mesh cutaway or a tear-away option.
  • 4. T-shirts and other stretch embroidery project may have their best results with a cutaway stabilizer
  • 5. The best stabilizer to use will be the one that will support the type and number of stitches you are planning on using.
  • 6. Sometimes you can use a heavier weight stabilizer when using lighter fabrics but the best way to go is to keep the weights the same.
  • 7. To save time and hassle you may want to use stabilizers that come in sheets format instead of the roll format. Rolls are cheaper and you may find you have less waste using them.
  • 8. heat Away options can be very messy when you go to remove them. Use a dry iron till the stabilizer becomes brittle then wipe away the flakes. One word of warning, heat away is not water friendly. Don’t get it wet after it is applied to your fabric.

Some Facts About Stabilizers

  • There were ancient cultures that used stabilizers first. These are not a new invention.
  • Before stabilizers were made out of paper or cloth, they were made out of everyday food items. Mixing sugar, flour, eggs, and water creates a great stabilizer. As does gelatin.
  • In earlier centuries, stabilizers helped create popular fashion and fads.
  • Before modern inventions and techniques, stabilizers were used to make different products weather resistant. These stabilizers were also made from a variety of home kitchen ingredients.
  • Don’t forget, stabilizers are applied to the wrong side of the fabric.

Some Final Words

One of the basic lessons to be learned from all of this is that you are not limited in the type of stabilizers you can use. The different skin types, the comfort aspect, and the purpose of the sewing project will all influence your decision on which stabilizer to use.

You have a lot of options at your disposal and if you want to go old fashioned, you can try different kitchen products when you can’t reach a sewing store. Just remember that the project you are working on and the fabric you are using will guide your choice.

Also, the number of stitches and type will guide you to the right one you should be using.

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