You know the moment.
You find the *perfect* fabric for your next hand embroidery project. It’s got a beautiful weave, it’s just the right color and it’s ON SALE! Yay! You get it home, cut and iron it, transfer your pattern perfectly…but when you start stitching on it, you realize your threads are just slightly showing through the back of the fabric. And you’re screaming Noooooooo! on the inside at the thought of 1) having to redo all of that cutting/tracing/stitching, and 2) not being able to use this perfect fabric that you found!
Yep, I’ve been there too.
In this article about great fabrics to use for hand embroidery projects, I shared that when you are stitching on a light-colored or lightweight fabric, there’s a good chance your embroidery floss might show through from the back side of your stitching. That means if you jump from section to section on your fabric as you stitch, or your thread ends aren’t perfectly tucked under your stitches, when you go to finish your embroidery hoop art, you’ll see those lines of thread where you aren’t supposed to see them! Ugh!
Does this mean you are forever destined to stitch on dark, heavy fabric? Nope! The good news is there is a really easy fix to this problem!
There are two ways I’ve gone about correcting this issue when I’m getting ready to stitch: with fusible embroidery stabilizer, or white cotton fabric.
Fusible Embroidery Stabilizer
How it works: Fusible embroidery stabilizer, like this Ultra Weave by Pellon, is a material that you cut to the size of the fabric you are using, and then iron onto the fabric’s back (or “wrong side”). There are a lot of different stabilizers out there, and choosing one can be confusing, but the important thing to remember is that you want to choose one specifically for hand embroidery. Also, you don’t want to select an option that will dissolve in water. Otherwise it will rinse out and then you’ll be back to square one with your thread showing through your fabric!
Pros: Ultra Weave is very soft and lightweight so it’s easy to stitch through this added layer, and it still keeps your thread from showing through the back of the fabric. The adhesive will also bind to your fabric completely so you don’t have to worry about wrinkles when stitching.
Cons: Ultra Weave can be expensive, especially if you use it often. Because it comes in a smaller size, larger projects may cause more waste of the material. It’s important to note that you want to trace your embroidery pattern onto the fabric after you iron the stabilizer in place because heat from an iron can make otherwise soluble fabric markers permanent!
White Cotton Fabric
How it works: Cut a piece of white cotton fabric the same size as your top fabric and simply stretch both fabrics in your embroidery hoop. You’ll go ahead and stitch through both layers of fabric so that no threads show through.
Pros: This is a much more budget-friendly option and you can get yards of it cut for you if you do a lot of embroidery. You can also trace your pattern on your top fabric before putting it together with the white cotton, and this is usually easier since it’s only one layer of material to see through.
Cons: Depending on your top fabric, it can take slightly more effort to stitch through the two layers. Because the white fabric is not “glued” to your top fabric, as in the case of fusible embroidery stabilizer, you need to be careful that you don’t introduce any wrinkles when stitching, or stretching the fabrics in your embroidery hoop.
Even with the cons of using white cotton fabric as a backing, it is still my favorite method for stitching on light-colored fabric! For tips on how to stretch it in your embroidery hoop so it’s wrinkle-free, watch the video below: