The Ultimate Guide To Embroidery Stabilizers
This article contains some industry terms that most of you willbe familiar with as well as some that only a few of you will befamiliar with. For clarity sake, I will define terms as we go along.
Our most important consideration for embroidery projects is gettingperfect registration (the ratio between bobbin thread and top threadto create a clear and perfect design). In general, the key to properregistration is to create a "tambourine skin" type tension with thematerial within the hoop. If the material moves, bounces or slips,you will lose registration. What a stabilizer does is aid inachieving this drum skin type tension. A stabilizer should be stablein all directions.
People have used all sorts of things for stabilizing. I have evenheard of people, some who should know better, advocating the use ofcoffee filters, newspaper, paper towels etc as a backing (throughoutthis article, backing and stabilizer will be used interchangeably).Sewing through these items is like taking you favorite fabric shearsand cutting cardboard with them - OUCH!
Paper will also break up and shred - causing excessive lint in yourbobbin cases and machine parts, please note here the LARGE differencebetween paper and a non-woven (non-woven: fabric-like material madefrom long fibers, bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat orsolvent treatment).
Let's talk about non-wovens. As far as the embroidery world isconcerned, non-woven stabilizers are manufactured by two differentprocesses-saturate/chemical bonded non-wovens and wet laid non-wovens.
In the first process, saturate or chemically bonded non-woven, thecontents are polyester, rayon and some kind of chemical binder(something that holds the fibers together). It is a dry sludge (amixture of solid material and water) and as it comes off the machinethe fibers are dispersed via 2 methods.
Method 1-Carded or directional saturate:
The fibers are raked or aligned in the machine direction (MD). Howdoes this happen? There is a giant card or rake that combs the fibersin one direction, resulting in a definite direction to the fibers.
Also called chemical bond - the fibers are raked orcombed (carded) in one direction (MD). The fibers arethen impregnated with a binder. It stretches in onedirection & tears in one direction. You will need 2 piecescross-wise to achieve proper tension for embroidery.
Please note that these goods do stretch in one direction crossdirectionally (CD). Therefore every time you use a carded ordirectional saturate you will need 2 layers laid crosswise in order toachieve a drum skin type tension. Most of these goods are made forinterlinings and for other end uses besides embroidery. This type ofnon-woven addresses the drapability factor but NOT the stability factor.
Method 2-Random Saturate:
The second method of dispersal of this saturated sludge is by a randommethod, therefore called a random saturate.
As an easy analogy to understand the method of fiber dispersal letsassume that the sludge is in a giant vat, similar in texture to cookiedough. A giant spoon comes along and mixes the fibers and the fibersare dispersed randomly.
Also called chemical bond - the same solution as withcarded saturates- only dispersed randomly. Notethe uneven quality and holes insaturate (thick and thin spots)
What happens when you hit a thin spot while embroidering? The answeris that you lose tension and registration in that area.
Random saturates are made for many industries, roofing, road building,house wrapping, etc. In most cases they are NOT made for embroidery.You will see many saturates on the market, many of them areinexpensive non-wovens made in Mexico. Some of these are greatproducts, for roofing or road building, but for embroidery there arebetter choices.
The second process is Wet Laid Non-Wovens