Sulky cross stitch and embroidery stabilizers

Sulky cross stitch and embroidery stabilizers

with 6 Comments

If you’ve ever wondered when to use a stabilizer for cross stitch or embroidery projects, this tutorial will help you learn which of the myriad of options is best for your project. Sulky makes a wide range of stabilizers, and this video includes information on their heat away, wash away, tear away, and cut away stabilizers.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality, and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. I would never recommend something I wouldn’t use myself. 🙂

Sulky stabilizers



Time stamps in the video:

Heat away — 1:53
Wash away — 4:31
Tear away — 9:40
Cut away — 11:52

Heat away stabilizer:

  • Heat Away — draw directly onto the film with a water soluble marker or Frixion pen (bumpy side against the fabric). Pin or hoop into place. Stitch, then cut away as much of the leftover film as possible. Get your iron as hot as your fabric can withstand [260° – 300° F (120° – 140° C), similar to cotton setting), and iron directly onto the film. Small balls will appear, you can brush those away at the end. Do not use steam, and store the stabilizer in a dry area away from sunlight and heat.


Wash away stabilizers:

  • Solvy = lightweight, Super Solvy = medium weight, Ultra Solvy = heavy weight. These stabilizers can be used to prevent stitches from sinking into napped fabrics (velvet, towels, sweater knits, fleece, etc). They dissolve in (lots of) water, and the heavyweight stabilizer is more for machine embroidery or areas of very dense stitching.
  • Paper Solvy: you can print onto it, draw onto it, or transfer onto it with iron-on transfer pen [see the transferring tutorial]. Trim away areas of excess stabilizer and submerge in cool water for about 10 seconds or so, then rinse off.
  • Fabri-Solvy: it’s like a fine fabric, pin or tack (or hoop) down onto your fabric after drawing your design on (fine permanent marker or washable marker). It provides firmer support than the stabilizers listed above do. Cut away the excess stabilizer when done. Rinse off under warm running water. Iron-on embroidery transfers can be ironed onto Fabri-Solvy (no steam).
  • Sticky Fabri-Solvy and Stick ‘n Stitch: same product, just different packaging. See the transferring tutorial for more detailed info, but it is basically a combo of Paper Solvy and Fabri-Solvy.


Tear away stabilizers:

  • Totally Stable: iron-on stabilzer, and light to heavy weight (non iron-on) stabilizers are Tear-Easy, Sticky+, and Stiffy. Totally Stable and Tear-Easy would be good for hand embroidery (acting as a stabilizer, say on stretch or knit fabrics). Use on the back, not as a topper. Would be good for patches or embroidery onto clothing you wanted to reinforce. Sticky+ and Stiffy are more for machine embroidery.


Cut away stabilizers:

  • Soft ‘n Sheer: it’s lightweight and great for sheer fabrics, you’d hoop or tack it into place on the back before stitching. Trim away any excess. Soft ‘n Sheer Extra is 1.5 times heavier than Soft ‘n Sheer, but also has a fusible iron-on coating. Cut-Away Plus is a medium weight stabilizer for the back, you’d hoop or tack it into place. Fuse ‘n Stitch is a heavy weight iron-on stabilizer. Tender Touch is a lightweight iron-on stabilizer, can be used on the underside to provide some stability to delicate fabrics, and also to cover the back of stitching to protect it (or protect surfaces/skin against metallic threads, etc). This stabilizer is also perfect for backing cross stitch projects such as bookmarks, tea towels, etc where it’s important to seal the back of the stitching. Stitch ‘n Seal is iron-on heavyweight stabilizer, meant to be used to restore the waterproofness of an item after it’s been embroidered. The shiny side is the adhesive side.


Links mentioned in the tutorial

Sulky stabilizer assortment pack

Stabilizer selection tool

How to transfer patterns to your fabric tutorial

6 Responses

  1. Henry Nichols
    | Reply

    Nice article! Thanks for the information.

  2. Amie
    | Reply

    I am torn on what type of stabilizer I should use. I am going to be hand embroidering these blankets ( ) and am not sure if I should use a water soluble or pull way stabilizer. The embroidery will be a 3 letter monogram with border.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Hi Amie! I’m not sure, you might just have to buy both and try them out. Or email Sulky and ask, I’m sure they can help you out as they’re the pros. 🙂

  3. Dawn Duval
    | Reply

    Thanks Dana for this informational tutorial. The Stitch and Seal and Tender Touch are both new ones to me but ones I will definitely keep in mind.

    • Dana Batho
      | Reply

      Glad it was helpful for you Dawn! 🙂

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