The Benefits of Water-Soluble Stabilizers for Lacy Machine Embroidery

With autumn upon us here in New England, I find myself once again noticing the wide variety of leaf shapes and colors as they fall to the ground. Some of my favorites are the dry, lacy ones with all but the veins and edges worn away.

machine embroidery with water-soluble stabilizer
Amazing Lace Aspen Leaves by Joyce Drexler, created with water-soluble stabilizer, metallic thread, and machine embroidery.

Many fiber artists have captured leaves like these in quilts. They lend themselves so well to lustrous threads and machine embroidery. But, as anyone who has tried to create thread-only designs can tell you, patience and a good embroidery stabilizer are absolute musts.

Here are some of the basic uses for stabilizers:

  • Back lightweight fabrics for sewing;
  • Create motifs completely out of thread, such as computer embroidery designs that can later be appliquéd;
  • Make your one-of-a-kind lacy fabrics out of threads;
    Fashion your own exotic, textured fabric out of threads, fabric snippets, yarns, and embellishments by sandwiching them between two pieces of water-soluble stabilizer;
  • Add stiffness to pieces (for example, fabric postcards, artist trading cards, fabric books, fabric bowls, and fabric vases), much like interfacing but permanent.

There are as many types of stabilizers as there are kinds of leaves, it seems, and it’s important to match the stabilizer with the task at hand.

Learn more: Download our Interfacing & Fabric Stabilizer Guide: 4 Free Tutorials for Supporting Fabric, Thread, and Embellishments in Quilt Art.

Water-soluble stabilizer is very popular with art quilters because it can handle most of the tasks above. In addition, as most water-soluble stabilizers look like clear plastic or are opaque, you can trace, stamp, paint, transfer, or sketch a motif on the stabilizer to use as a guide for stitching.

This beautiful free-standing lace leaf (shown above) designed by Joyce Drexler of Sulky is easy and fun to make and shows you how to choose and use a water-soluble stabilizer. In addition, Joyce uses the “round” metallic threads, which are a little more subtle for machine embroidery designs.

Joyce’s Amazing Lace Aspen Leaf project is just one of many offered in Embroidery Zen I – The Path to Machine Embroidery Enlightenment, a multi-lesson, online course that will lead you to stress-free machine embroidery success.

Whether you’re new to machine embroidery and stabilizers or want to broaden your skills, the Embroidery Zen course will teach you insiders tips, tricks, and techniques to take your quilts and projects to a new dimension.

vivika hansen denegre

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Machine Embroidery, QATV Series 1100, Quilting Daily Blog

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