Dear Jan,
With so many different types of stabilizers to choose from, are there any rules for which one is best for different types of fabrics and techniques? -Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,
Just like sewing with a good quality thread and needle, to achieve professional sewing results when using Memory Cards it is important to stabilize the fabric. When the designs are sewn without the proper stabilizer, unsatisfactory results may sometimes occur. In some cases the thread can be "heavier" than the fabric, causing distortion in the design. There are many different types of stabilizers available and most of them are excellent. Three of the most popular types of stabilizers are tear-away, iron-on and water-soluble. To determine the correct type and the number of layers of stabilizer your project requires, it is recommended to test sew the embroidery before beginning your project. The water-soluble stabilizer may be placed on the right and/or wrong side of the fabric. It eliminates bulk and "whiskers" that are left by tear-away stabilizers. It is used where both sides of the project will be seen when sewing is completed, such as terry cloth. It can also be used on the top of the fabric where the threads may "sink" into the cloth, such as fabrics with nap (velvets and corduroy). Remember that this stabilizer is removed with water so do not place on fabric on which water can not be used. Iron-on and tear-away stabilizers are the most popular. Even combining the two will give great results. These types of stabilizers are only used on the wrong side of the fabric. After the stitching is completed, the excess stabilizer is removed, but the stabilizer under the threads remains. It will not be removable even after several washings. Sometimes, several layers of stabilizer may be required to achieve professional results. Note: If the project requires a heavyweight tear-away stabilizer, try using several layers of lightweight stabilizer instead. It is much kinder on the threads when removing the excess. Lightweight fabrics presents the problem of the thread being heavier than the fabric. You must add volume to the fabric with stabilizer to support the weight of the thread. Try using one layer of iron-on and 2 to 4 layers of tear-away. If the fabric is not only lightweight but also sheer, you may need to try several layers of water-soluble stabilizer on top of the fabric and a tear-away underneath. Depending on the design selected to be sewn, spraying the fabric with spray starch or spray sizing can be enough for beautiful results. For medium weight fabrics, try one layer of iron-on and 1 to 2 layers of tear-way stabilizer. For heavy weight or very dense fabric, one layer of either iron-on or tear-away is probably all you will need. When your project has stretch, it may be necessary not only to stabilize but also to interface the stitching area. A good interfacing to have on hand is lightweight fusible knit. Place the stretch of the interfacing going in the opposite direction to the stretch of the fabric and then stabilize. There are also two fairly new stabilizers on the market that are paper-backed release adhesive sheets. One is a tear-away and the other is water-soluble. The inner hoop of the embroidery hoop is not required. The stabilizer is "stuck" to the outer hoop and the fabric "sticks" to the stabilizer. This is perfect for collars, cuffs and other small projects where it is difficult to get the project in the hoop. This type of stabilizer is also great for fabrics that may be harmed by "hooping." Give one of these suggestions a try for better looking Professional-Style Embroidery.