Adhesive stabilizers can be very convenient and are sometimes simply necessary. They are often the best option for “hoopless” embroidering on delicate fabrics and fabrics such as velvet that would suffer from “hoop burn” if hooped traditionally. It also can be a lifesaver when trying to embroider on small, hard-to-hoop items.
But, it would be a disservice to not mention the potential negatives – like sticky built-up on hoops and the machine itself.
So, I will focus on the different types of adhesive stabilizers,
how they work, some brand names, and some pros and cons.
Then I will follow with hoop cleaning options.
Peel-N-Stick type stabilizers are generally a stabilizer that have a paper back on them that must be peeled away to reveal the adhesive surface. These sticky stabilizers are generally intended to be temporary and either wash away or can be torn away upon completion.
Examples include: Sulky Sticky tear-away stabilizer, Perfect Solutions- Sticky Back Wash-Away Mesh, and Hoop-It-All Stick-It-All tear away.
Tip: Hoop the stabilizer first, then score the paper and peel it off inside the frame to reveal the sticky surface. This way the adhesive is not coming in contact with your frame, so you don’t have to clean residue off the frame when you are finished.
Note: Peel and Stick stabilizers can wreak havoc on your machine. When sewing, as the thread is drawn back up on each stitch, the sticky stuff can build up on your needle and even get into your machine and gunk up the works. Be sure to change your needle often when using sticky stabilizers to reduce potential build-up.
Water activated stabilizers are generally activated by moistening with a sponge or spray bottle. Adhere fabric to the stabilizer while it is still damp and sticky. To reposition fabric or to simply make the stabilizer sticky again, simply re-moisten the stabilizer. Fabric and stabilizer can be hooped together or stabilizer can be hooped alone and fabric positioned on top.
Examples include: Hydro-Stick (cut-away or tear-away versions) and Perfect Solutions – Aqua Set.
Tip: Let the stabilizer dry some before embroidering. This will reduce the likelihood of any sticky stuff remaining to gum up your needle and/or machine.
Iron-on stabilizer cannot be used as a means to avoid hooping fabric. But it does serve a very important purpose – that of providing the stability necessary for hooping and embroidering slippery and/or stretchy fabrics that would be too easily distorted without the added support during the hooping and embroidering process. Iron-on stabilizers are available in both cut-away and tear-away versions.
Examples include: Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch and Sulky Tender Touch permanent, iron-on stabilizers, Sulky Totally Stable iron-on, tear-away stabilizer, Filmoplast,
Sprays can be used to turn your favorite cut-away or tear-away into an adhesive stabilizer. Some sprays provide temporary hold and others are permanent. Sprays can offer an economical way to expand your stabilizer collection and hooping options.
Examples include: OESD 202, 404, 505 & 606 spray, Sulky KK2000, and Sullivans Embroidery Spray Adhesive (ESA).
Note: The downside to spray is that it tends to get everywhere. So you must be careful not to use in close proximity to your sewing machine or computer or in poorly ventilated areas. And it always gets on your hoop.
Even if you are very diligent about caring for your frames, if you use an adhesive stabilizer, you are bound to end up with residue.
To clean adhesive from your hoop, you may want to try soaking it in warm water and scrubbing gently with a toothbrush, or soft sponge and mild detergent. For heavy build-up, try a cleaning agent such as DK5, designed specifically for removing adhesives.
Suggestion: For small embroidery designs and stable fabrics, instead of using adhesive spray, try attaching the fabric to your favorite stabilizer using a long basting stitch around the perimeter of the area be embroidered. Then embroider as usual and simply remove the basting stitches afterward.
Who better to answer this question than a thread company? Here is what our friends at American Efird had to say:
Thread breakage and skipped stitches are common aggravations on any sewing floor because it interrupts production, affects quality, and reduces the earnings and efficiency of production operators. Thread breakage and skipped stitches can be caused by many factors including the following listed below.
First, we will focus on the characteristics in thread that impact thread breakage, but later we will also discuss a logical approach used for trouble-shooting thread breakage.
Factors that Cause Skipped Stitches
Wrong thread for the application.
Quality defects in the thread.
Improper needle / thread size relationship.
Worn or defective thread guides or eyelets.
Excessive machine thread tension.
Defective needle or improper positioning of the needle.
Worn or defective machine parts (burrs or sharp surfaces on thread handling or stitch forming devices).
Machines out of adjustment.
Improper feeding. Improper operator handling. Flagging.
The key product characteristics in thread that have the greatest impact on thread breakage and skipped stitches include:
Proper Loop Formation
Loop Formation refers to the forming of a loop for the stitch-forming device (e.g., hook, looper, spreader) to enter. When the needle thread loop is formed. Ideally, the stitch forming device will enter the loop and continue to form the stitch; however, if an improper thread loop is formed, the stitch forming device can strike the thread causing the thread to break or miss the loop causing a skipped stitch.
The thread characteristics that impact loop formation include:
If the needle size – thread size relationship is improper, the thread will not be properly clamped on the scarf side of the needle and poor loop formation will occur. If the seam is not held in a stationary position when the needle is rising, the seam will rise with the needle and not form a proper needle loop. This condition, called flagging, is one of the most common causes of skipped stitches and thread breakage.
Many times a skipped stitch or thread break will occur when crossing another seam. This could occur due to the additional thickness that the needle has to penetrate. This could apply additional tension to the thread or cause the needle to deflect away from the stitch-forming device. However, many times the skip or break occurs right after the thickness has been crossed and usually the result of flagging. This happens when the back portion of the presser foot is still on the seam and the front portion of the foot is no longer clamping the fabric securely. Therefore, as the needle begins to rise, the fabric moves up with the needle and a poor needle loop is formed.
Thread Elongation and Initial Modulus
The inherent stretchiness or elongation of the thread is generally determined by the fiber type. For example, both nylon and polyester threads have a much higher elongation than 100% cotton threads. Cotton thread stretches approximately 3 to 4% before it breaks. Polyester thread stretches approximately 17 to 20% before it breaks. The polyester thread has a higher elongation at break that contributes to greater seam elasticity and seam strength.
A thread with a higher initial modulus, or initial resistance to stretching, will minimize the amount that the thread stretches as the needle approaches the bottom of its travel. Therefore, when the needle begins to rise, the thread will be relaxed so a proper needle loop will be formed. When the thread is stretched as the needle reaches the bottom of its travel in the stitch formation cycle, the thread will recover to its original un-stretched length as the needle begins to rise. The more the thread is stretched, the later a needle loop will be formed and the smaller the target the stitch forming device has to enter to form a proper stitch. The end result may be a skipped stitch or thread breakage.
Note: Regardless of the type of thread being used, as more and more tension is applied to the thread, the thread will stretch more, affecting loop formation. Improper loop formation will result in a higher frequency of sewing interruptions. This is why it is recommended to always adjust the sewing machines thread handling system to sew with minimum thread tension.
Below is a recommended procedure for balancing the stitch on any sewing machine:
Ideally, the thread lubricant will give the thread a consistent dynamic tension as it passes through the sewing machine’s thread guides and tension devices and also allow the thread to form a balanced stitch with minimum thread tension. This will minimize the amount that the thread stretches allowing a proper needle loop to form.
Many thread lubricants include an antistat to minimize the static electrical attraction of the thread to metal surfaces. This attraction can cause the thread to leave its proper thread path impacting loop formation and thread breakage. Synthetic threads made from polyester and nylon are more susceptible to static than threads made from cotton or rayon.
Many factors affect the uniformity of the thread. By uniformity, we are referring to the consistency in physical properties regarding:
In the following comments, we will outline a trouble-shooting guide from three perspectives:
The reason for this analysis is to help you differentiate between thread related problems and machine related problems. Common sense should tell you that if a sewing problem is occurring on only one machine, the problem is most likely NOT a thread related problem unless a noticeable defect is visible. On the other hand, if the problem is occurring on one color and on all sewing machines and operations, the thread should be investigated first. Is Thread Breakage or Skipping Occurring Primarily on One Operation or Type of Machine?
Is Thread Breakage or Skipping Occurring Primarily on One Operation or Type of Machine?
a) Has there been a thread change?
b) Is the correct type and size needle being used?
c) Are the proper tools being used for the task – correct presser foot, needle plate & attachments?
d) Is the machine adjusted correctly for the operation?
e) Observe the operation to see if the thread is breaking at the same location most of the time.