Poly Mesh—Poly mesh stabilizer is a lightweight, textured stabilizer that is great for T-shirts and lightweight fabrics. The texture allows for the support of a large number of stitches, but the lightweight aspect ensures that the garment or the embroidered design won’t be distorted by a large wad of backing.
Fusible Poly Mesh—Fusible poly mesh is the same material as regular poly mesh, with the same lightweight feel and the same texture. The difference is that fusible, as the name implies, can be fused, with heat, to the back of a garment. Fusible is useful for infant or children’s clothing, covering embroidery that might otherwise scratch delicate skin. It can also be used with performance wear to stabilize and help eliminate the stretch in these types of fabrics.
Adhesive—Adhesive backing is coated with an adhesive which is covered with a release paper. This type of backing can be hooped, after which the release paper is scored, exposing the adhesive, and allowing for the securing of small items which couldn’t otherwise be hooped (like patches or socks). Adhesive backing can also be another option for performance wear, functioning as a barrier against the stretchiness of the material being embroidered.
Water Soluble—Water soluble stabilizer can be a backing or a topping. As a topping, water soluble is used on top of fabrics that have a pile. It is commonly used on fleece or towels and works to keep the stitches from sinking into the pile and disappearing.
Cut-away/Wash-away—Another option for free standing lace is a cut-away/wash-away backing. This type of stabilizer can be used to create free standing lace ornaments, as it can be embroidered and then the excess can be dissolved away. Cut-away/wash-away can also be a good option for when the back of an embroidered item, like a monogrammed towel, for instance, might be seen. The excess stabilizer will wash away over time, leaving the back of the embroidery tidy.
Cap Backing—Hats are a popular item with many embroiderers, and cap backing makes embroidering a hat easier. This type of backing is usually 2.5–3.0-oz. and is often offered in smaller sizes like 4" X 7". Cap backing is a stiff, paperlike tear-away, which tears cleanly, and is stiff enough to support stitch-heavy logos.
Some embroiderers will tell you that specialty stabilizers aren’t necessary, that a simple cut-away or tear-away backing will get the job done in almost any situation, and they wouldn’t be wrong. What specialty stabilizers offer is the ability not just to get the job done, but to get it done in a way that works with the fabric and creates a finished design that is a work of art.