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Backing Basics: Types of Backing

1st April 2010

Backing Basics: Types of Backing

To produce a high quality finished embroidered product, you need to begin with the correct backing.  There are different types of backing which are suitable for different fabrics and different sew outs,  and it can be hard to know which backing is right for your job.  Our Backing Basics series is designed to help you make the right choice when it comes to the backing/stabilizers you use.

The first thing you need to decide when determining which backing you should use, is what the requirements of the particular job are.  Do you need a backing that can be torn away after the design is finished?  Are you embroidering fabrics that are slightly sheer, and so need a backing that won’t stand out?  Is your embroidery going on something, like a towel, that has a tendency to absorb your stitches?   Once you’re got your criteria, you can then decide which category, size and weight of backing is right for you.

In this installment of backing basics, we’re going to discuss backing types.   Most backing falls into one of several broad categories.   Today I will give you a brief description of each category.



The most popular backing choice among embroiders is tearaway, allowing for jobs to be finished faster because the backing can be torn from the garment.  Tearaway eliminates any tedious cutting around the design with scissors.



Cutaway backing is most often used when an embroiderer is working with a light or stretchy fabric.  This type of backing is sturdier and provides more stability for lighter weight fabrics.  Once the design is done, cutaway backing must be trimmed with scissors.


Peel and Stick/ Press and Tear/Adhesive


Adhesive backing has a pressure sensitive coating and a release liner.  Once the design is sewn; the backing can be easily torn away.  This backing is ideal for use with hard to hoop items.


Cap/Hat Backing


Most backings of this type are tearaways.  This backing is used to improve the crispness of lettering and columns.


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.

Poly Mesh

Poly Mesh backing is ideal for lightweight knits and sheer fabrics.  This backing is soft and lightweight and can be used for jobs where minimizing stabilizer show through is a concern.

Water Soluble

Water soluble topping/backing is used with textured fabrics like terry cloth or fleece. This sort of backing prevents stitches from sinking into these sorts of material.  It is water soluble and will dissolve in water, so excess topping can easily be removed.

This is a brief sketch of the broad categories of backing.   In the next installment of Backing Basics we’ll discuss backing weight, what it means, and why it matters.

posted in Backing/Stabilizers | 1 Comment

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