What are Water Soluble Stabilizers?
It's doesn't take a lot of time in the embroidery hobby until you encounter the term Water Soluble Embroidery Stabilizer, abbreviated as WSS. Water soluble stabilizers are embroidery backings that dissolve 100% in water and disappear. Water soluble backings are available in a heavy plastic like film type, and a stabilizer that resembles fabric. They both do the same thing and which one you use is personal preference.
What's a tear away / wash away stabilizer, is that the same thing? Many new embroiderers get WSS confused with tear/wash away backings. A WSS is made from water soluble fibers that dissolve in water. A tear-wash away embroidery stabilizer is made from non-soluble fibers (that don't dissolve in water) held together by a water soluble binder. Upon washing a tear/wash away, the binder dissolves allowing the backing to break apart and the fibers to wash away, yet the stitches remain firmly locked due to the fibers that remain under the stitches.
- Freestanding lace, or FSL, is what water soluble stabilizers are most used for. FSL designs are digitized to stay together without the support of stabilizer. The designs are independent or "free standing" and holds itself together once the stabilizer is dissolved. With freestanding lace, you are able to make detailed pieces such as ornaments, decorations, jewelry, and more.
- You can use water soluble backings for free-motion or programmed computerized embroidery. For free-motion work, they’re great when you’re working with fabrics that may be difficult to mark, you can draw your design right on them to create your own stitching guide pattern.
- When you are ready to dissolve the stabilizer, it's usually best to cut away as much as you can first to minimize any mess. Most WSS will dissolve if immersed and agitated in lukewarm water. Make sure all the backing dissolves and the residue is rinsed off your stitches before it dries again.