Choosing the Right Stabiliser

When tackling a new machine embroidery project it is always important to have the right equipment and material on hand. We have already discussed the importance of choosing the right needle, but now we are going to delve further into the use of stabilisers. For those of you who have done a little bit of research online, you will have seen a lot of advice leaning towards using test samples to zone in on the right stabiliser for your project. The overwhelming number of stabilisers on the market however, may make this an impractical starting point for those unwilling to kick their families out to make room for machine embroidery supplies. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t use test samples of material and stabiliser once you have a better idea of which kind to use. Using test samples is also a great way to find out if stabilisers work well together as sometimes using a single heavy duty product is less effective than using two lighter products.

Different Kinds of stabiliser

There are essentially four kinds of stabiliser that that can be used for in-the-hoop and hooped machine embroidery designs. These are cut-away, tear-away, heat-away and wash-away. These are all best suited to certain kinds of designs or materials, and will usually have usage advice on the packet.

machine embroidery equipment


Cut-away stabilisers are only partially removed once a machine embroidery design is complete. The excess stabiliser is as the name suggests, cut away, leaving a section over the design to aid in holding it together. This is a great stabiliser when the material being used is particularly loosely stitched or hand-knitted. It may also be a good idea to use this type of stabiliser for designs that may be subject to daily wear and tear like clothes or bibs. The big drawback for cut-away on some designs however is that the stabiliser may be visible and therefore not ideal for every situation.  Another variety of cut-away stabiliser available is a soft mesh stabiliser.  They are great where the stabiliser will remain but you want a soft finish.  An example of this would be a quilt in the hoop design.  


For machine embroidery designs where it is undesirable or impractical to have any residual stabiliser on the finished item, a tear-away will be preferable over cut-away. Once a design is finished, these are carefully torn from around the stitches. It is very important to test this style of stabiliser before use, as certain brands and heavier duty products don’t tear as easily as others or tear while in the hoop. The last thing you want to do is create a beautiful design only to have stitches come loose when removing the stabiliser. It may also be a good rule of thumb to use multiple lighter gauge sheets than one heavier gauge as they will be easier to tear and can be removed individually. We use tear- away stabiliser in most of our zipper purse in the hoop designs as the stabiliser needs to be removed from the zipper opening.


Essentially heat-away stabilisers should be used when the other three kinds wouldn’t be effective (If the material isn’t washable and too delicate for tear-away or cut-away). It goes without saying that this method isn’t usable for materials that will be damaged by heat, although most won’t be damaged by an iron. There are two kinds of heat-away stabilisers, one that will be removed completely and one that will offer extra support to the project while losing any excess visible stabiliser. Both kinds are removed with an iron, and it is important not to use steam in the removal, as the stabilisers can be water soluble once melted and may embed in the material. We have another blog which explains this process in more detail here. Also a youtube video –

machine embroidery, machine embroidery designs, in the hoop, christmas, bauble, mylar

Wash-Away (soluble) 

Finally we have wash-away stabilisers, which can be used effectively for a wide range of machine embroidery designs and are perfect for delicate and mesh fabrics. There are a number of wash-away stabilisers that come in the form of a spray that can be applied to a material and hardens like a resin. These can be great for uneven materials that would leave gaps with a sheet style stabiliser. They can also be some of the most versatile stabilisers on the market. The big drawback for wash-away with certain projects is of course their method of removal makes them completely impractical for any design that will need continued support post-wash. We use this type of stabiliser for all our ornament type in the hoop designs.  It is preferable to use over tear-away in this situation as tear-away can leave a fine edge of stabiliser remaining which may be seen on the completed project.

machine embroidery, machine embroidery designs, in the hoop, christmas, bauble, mylar

Try it Out

I hope this has shed some light on the different kinds of stabilisers available. Remember to always read the usage advice on the packet and try test samples before beginning any machine embroidery design project.

Sweet Pea Sew-a-long Challenge -August The Winners

machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long

Each month we will choose a 1st Place , 2nd and 3rd Place winners ( plus 4th, 5th and 6th)

At the end of the 3 sew-a-longs we will have a total of 18 monthly winners.

We will put the 18 winning entries to public voting on October 1st, 2017

The GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be the entry that receives the most votes by 5pm October 3rd 2017.

Grand prize winner will be announced on the website, Sweet Pea Facebook groups and notified by email.

machineembroidery design in the hoop


1st Place winner will receive: From Echidna Sewing . PLUS $100 Sweet Pea gift voucher

2nd Place winner will receive: From Echidna Sewing .PLUS $50 Sweet Pea gift voucher

3rd Place winner will receive: From Echidna Sewing .PLUS $25 Sweet Pea gift voucher

4th, 5th and 6th place winners will receive a Sweet Pea design of their choice.

All place winners will be judged on the best photos submitted. Judges decision is final. This is a competition of skill.

All place winners will be announced on the website, Sweet Pea Facebook groups and notified by email.

And the GRAND PRIZE WINNER will win


A BROTHER /F440E- embroidery Machine valued at $1499 AUD (Australian winner only – due to shipping legislation)

OR $1000 (Australian Dollars ) Sweet Pea gift voucher (for non Australian grand prize winner).


machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long winner


machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long winner


machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long winner


machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long winner


machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long winner


machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long winner

Congratulations to everyone who participated in our August Sew-a-Long Challenge, we saw hundreds of beautiful creations using our Home Cushion, Table Runner design and each and every one of you should be very proud.

Winners please contact us at and let us know your mailing details. Thanks 🙂

The Winners Video ( click image to view)

machine embroidery in the hoop sew-a-long winners YouTube video

The Fantastic prizes supplied for this sew-a-long are from the wonderful people at Echidna Sewing.

Check out their great range of Brother Embroidery Machines and online shop at

echidna banner logo

September Sew-a-long starts September 9

The September sew-a-long will start September 9 ( Australia time)

The Sew-a-long will be held in the same group as we had for the AUGUST Sew-a-long.



machine embroidery design sew-a-long

machine embroidery design in the hoop

Machine Embroidery Twist on Sashiko Quilting


Sashiko was a style of functional embroidery developed in Japan and used as early as the 17th century, which was very popular with the peasant class. Traditionally the style features geometric white patterns on darker, usually indigo cloth.

Japanese Folded sashiko - quilt.jpg

(sashiko pictured here recreated “in the hoop” using an embroidery machine)×4-5×5-6×6-in-the-hoop-machine-embroidery-design.


The Sashiko style was used predominantly to mend clothes with patches. The quilting of the clothes made them more durable and warmer for the harsh winters peasants would have to deal with outside of estates and castles. It could also be used to turn clothes beyond repair into bags, hats and cloths for cleaning. If necessary it could be utilised to quilt an entire outfit, changing it from indoor summer-wear to winter-wear.  It was important for the working class to repurpose material in this way due to its scarcity, as textiles could not be mass produced, and even once they could be, were often too expensive. In this way, the poor in Japan could get the most use out of cloth very valuable cloth as possible.

The other purpose behind Sashiko was, of course, to make the clothes more aesthetically pleasing. It is an example of a group using their limited resources to best effect, and creating beautiful patterns without using the expensive new silks that the ruling class of the time had access to.

Design Aspects

Sashiko which means little stabs, was usually created using white thread on top of dark indigo cloth traditionally. This was due to the fact that dyeing cloth brighter colours was more difficult and more expensive than darker shades. Laws were eventually brought in stopping any lowborn individual from wearing bright colours, further restricting the colour choice along with a superstition that indigo deterred insects and snakes. When designing modern Sashiko of course it is possible to use any colours but for those wanting to stay traditional white thread on dark blue is the norm. As previously stated the designs created using the thread were geometric shapes used to make peasant clothes more aesthetically pleasing while still serving a purpose. The designs are created using a plain running stitch.


Image source:


The material used was loosely stitched and originally made from hemp and linen. Eventually peasants gained access to cotton which was better quality but still loose enough for the embroidery. The thread used was strong cotton whenever possible and hemp before this was available.

Sweetpea Embroidery Design

We are able to replicate these beautiful 17th century designs with our embroidery machine these days, rather than painstakingly with a long thin sturdy needle like the Japanese who originally designed them.

Here’s a quick sneak peak on how the sashiko quilt is recreated “in the hoop”.

Embroider the Sashiko.


Take your second piece of fabric and fold it in half length ways wrong sides together.


Place your Fabric onto the hoop, matching the fold up with the little indication marks we stitched earlier and the raw ends towards the bottom right corner of the block. Tape your fabric in place and stitch down.


Now use that same stitch down line as your placement line for your third piece of fabric. Lay the fabric wrong side up on the hoop with one edge crossing the placement line by about 1cm (1/2”) and with the excess towards the top left corner of the block.


Stitch Fabric down.


Continue following the full instructions provided with the download from and the final result will look like this. To find the design click on this link×4-5×5-6×6-in-the-hoop-machine-embroidery-design.

Japanese Folded Sashiko Quilt5x5 6x6 7x7 in the hoop.jpg