I'm relatively new to the embroidery industry. Can you tell me what backing types are available?


There are actually quite a few out there! Here's a helpful list of the basic backing types:

Tearaway: Often the most popular choice among embroiderers, tearaway is easy to remove and can speed production time. It can be torn from around the design, eliminating the need for cutting with scissors.

Cutaway: If you’re working with light or stretchy fabrics, cutaway may be the backing for you. It tends to be sturdier than tearaway and provides more stability. The drawback is that excess cutaway stabilizer, as the name implies, must be trimmed from around the design which can extend production time.

Adhesive: The name pretty much explains it all. Adhesive backing has a pressure-sensitive adhesive coating and a release liner. Ideal for use with hard-to-hoop items like socks and blank patches. Excess tears away from the design when embroidery is complete.

Poly Mesh: A backing designed specifically for knits and sheer fabrics, poly mesh is a soft and lightweight backing with a texture that allows it to hold a large number of stitches. Ideal for jobs where minimizing stabilizer show-through is a concern.

Water Soluble: This tends to be a topping more than a backing, but still serves to hold stitches. Used with textured fabrics like terrycloth or fleece, it prevents stitches from sinking into the high piles of the fabric. Water-soluble toppings dissolve when misted with or submerged in water, so excess topping can be removed easily.


Within these broad categories, there are also subcategories of backing which may be used for a specific application. Those subcategories include:

Cap/Hat Backing: A subcategory of tearaway stabilizer, this backing is often sold in narrow strips which suit cap designs. Cap/hat backing is used to improve the crispness of lettering and columns.

Melt Away/Heat Away Backing: Another subcategory of tearaways, this backing/topping can be dissolved by heat. This is another option for creating free-standing lace, and is ideal for fabrics where using water is not an option. This category also contains ThermoSeal, a heat activated topping which can be used to waterproof embroidery.

Fusibles: Often a subcategory of Poly Mesh backing, fusible backing can be affixed to a garment with a hand iron. The primary use for this type of backing is to stabilize extremely stretchy or hard-to-hoop materials.

Q-104: Another option in the water soluble category, this is a felt-like water soluble backing that can be used to create 3D lettering with a distressed look.

Flame Resistant (FR) Backing: This includes Proban backing, which is fire retardant, and flame-resistant backing. Flame resistant backing is certified for children’s clothes. Proban can be used on items for fire departments, racecar drivers or anyone else who may run the risk of encountering flames during their work day.