Understanding The
Different Types of Embroidery Backings and Stabilizers

Do you know what embroidery backings are?… And what they are used for? You may have heard about them before but haven’t had a chance to find out more…

… Lucky for you, because today we will try to understand them better — we’ll be going through all of the different backings that you can use for embroidery.

Just a little housekeeping before we get started. Backings are sometimes referred to as ‘’stabilizers’’,  so if you ever hear or see that name, you know what it’s about.

It’s called that way for a good reason; it explains what the product does. You can probably figure it out; all that backing does is give your garment extra stabilization during the embroidery process. It gives the thread a smooth, firm surface to work with to ensure a perfect sew-out.

Okay, let’s start with the basic ones that we use the most often… and then… talk about some of the specialty backings.

Our Go-To Backings

Out of all the backings available, there are two that we (and our customers) like the best. The first one is called Tear Away, the other one’s called CutAway backing. Both of them do come in different ounces and what you’re going to use is going to depend on how much stabilization your garment needs.

Let’s take a closer look at each backing.

CutAway Backing – as the name suggests… when you’re done embroidering… with the CutAway backing you will cut the excess material away from your design. It’s great for sowing on your more thin materials like polyester polos or any kind of athletic wear. And for people who wash their clothes more frequently this is good news, too — this stabilizer withstands repeat washing.

And if that’s not enough, what if I told you it comes in 2 colors? You can choose between black and white colors, whichever matches your garment better.

But NOT everything is so rosy, there are some things to worry about. For instance, the obvious danger with working with cutaways is cutting too close to the design, damaging the design or the garment. This is why cutaway backings are better for designs not visible from the back of the garment.

Most cutaway backings come in a range or weights, from 2 ½ ounces to an Ultra-Thick at 3 ¾ oz. per square yard.

CutAway Backing

Tear Away Backing – the most important thing that separates this backing from the previous one is the ease of use. When you’re done with your embroidery all you have to do is tear away the extra material. It goes best with thicker materials or materials that don’t have a lot of stretch to them.

Tear Away backing is also really great if you’re sewing on a fabric that you’ll see the opposite side of. So, it makes it a great choice for things like beach towels or hand towels.

Most tearaway backings are sold in weights between 1 ½ to 2 ounces per square yard.

Next, let’s talk about some of our specialty backings that you’ll use for some more specific applications.

Tear Away Backing

Specialty Backings

First, we’ll talk about Fusible Mesh Backing. When you take it in your hand, the first thing you feel is how thin it is. There’s absolutely NO stretch to it, you can’t move it around.

The first best-suited application that comes to mind is adding it to materials that are super stretchy like activewear for example. So, we would iron this on, it would help the embroidery to stay nice and tight together. To understand what this could look like, I suggest watching the video attached to this article.

Next, we’ll be talking about Peel and Stick Backing.

Peel and Stick Backing

Peel and Stick Backings are primarily for hoopless embroidery or areas difficult to hoop. For the sake of an example, these areas could be collars, cuffs, pockets, or any highly stretchy fabric. But it doesn’t stop there, a considerable number of apparel decorators love to use peel and stick backing for fast frames, too.

One of our favorite applications? We love to use it when we’re embroidering on flexible or moisture-wicking hats or materials that could leave hoop marks, like brushed denim and suede.

Peel and Stick Backing

Wash Away Backing

Similar to the previous one, this is also a tear-away style backing but different in its own right.

What makes Wash Away Backing so unique is its solubility. You can make it disappear as if by magic — all you need is warm water. Dip it in the water and you’ll see it start to dissolve.

You need to see it with your own eyes! We have shown the whole process in a video that’s attached at the top of this page — scroll up to find it. It starts with the fifth minute, so you might as well skip right through.

Next, we’ll be talking about backings that you put on post-embroidery.

Understanding the Different Types of Embroidery Backings and Stabilizers

Post-Embroidery Backings

Heat Seal is something you use when making custom patches. When your embroidery machine had done sewing out a patch… and you take it off your embroidery machine and flip it over… you’ll see stitches and thread hanging from it.

You want to fix it. And that’s where heat seal begins to be used. With it, you can seal all of your thread back into place. It will not only hide the imperfections but also make the surface smooth to the touch and create a nice edge around your patch so it’s easier to cut around.

apply heat seal to the custom patch

Cover Up is another heat-applied backing. And what it does is it completely covers up the back of your embroidery. It helps with the itch that can sometimes happen when embroidery is on the skin.

A lot of people love to use this after embroidering on a baby or toddler clothing. But, we’ve also seen people buy this that have purchased something that was embroidered from a store like Target or Walmart and they will heat apply this on to help with that irritation.