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How Do I: Choose a Backing

23rd June 2015

How Do I: Choose a Backing

8The type of backing used on an embroidered piece can have a big impact on the quality of the finished item,   but knowing which backing to use and when to use it can be difficult.   Add to that fact the problem of beginning embroiderers who may not even be aware there is more than one type of cutaway or tearaway available,  or even that cutaway and tearaway exist,  and the confusion only deepens.   Choosing a backing can be confusing and intimidating,   but it can also make a real difference in the speed, ease and quality of your embroidery,  so it is important.    Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a backing.

Backing comes in different typesCutaway and tearaway are the two main types of backing,   and are basically what their names imply they would be.   Cutaway stabilizers must be cut with scissors.   Tearaway stabilizers are designed to allow for any excess to be torn away after the embroidery is finished.   There are also a variety of specialty backings and toppings which also fit under the wider categories of cutaway or tearaway,  but have unique uses.   Poly mesh,  adhesive backing  and water soluble would be in this category.

Backing comes in different weights – Lighter weight backings are generally best for light weight fabrics.    Heavier weight tearaways can be very useful when embroidering caps.    Generally,  backing weight ranges from 1 oz to 3+ ounces.    Backing weight is determined by weighing a square yard of the backing in question.   Heavier weight backings,  3 ounces for instance,  will generally be sturdier and stiffer.   Lighter weight backings,  a 1.5 ounce perhaps,  will be more flexible,  may be softer,   and generally are more sheer.    To learn more about backing weight and why it matters you can read this post I wrote in 2010.

Backing comes in different colors – We’re not talking a wide variety of colors here,  backing is generally available in white,  black and beige.     Even a small variety of colors does matter however,  particularly when there is some possibility of the backing being visible through the garment.

Specialty backing can make a huge difference – Specialty backings were all designed to meet a need in the machine embroidery marketplace.   Poly mesh backing was designed for use with lightweight and sheer fabrics.     Adhesive backing is perfect for use with hard to hoop items,  allowing embroidery on patches and socks and things that would be too small to hoop on their own.    Water soluble topping allows the embroidering of names and monograms on towels and fleece,  keeping the lettering from sinking into the material.    For many jobs,  using a simple cutaway or tearaway will serve you well,  but specialty backings are always a good thing to have in your arsenal.

That’s a quick overview of how to choose a backing.    To learn more,  you can also read these additional posts I’ve written on the subject.

Backing Basics:  Types of Backing

Backing Basics:  Specialty Backing

posted in Backing/Stabilizers, Embroidery Questions, Machine Embroidery Tips | 1 Comment

3rd December 2013

Introducing ThermoSeal

iStock_000010053914XSmallIt’s the time of year,  for many of us,  when snow starts coming down and winter weather gear comes out.   Anyone who’s spent a day sledding or snowmobiling,  having a snowball fight or simply building a snowman knows that snow can get everywhere.   Much as we’d like to have embroidery on our winter clothing,  it never seemed like a good idea.   Snow is cold and also melts,  and any punctures or holes in your cold weather gear could leave you soaked and shivering.   Until now,  that is.

EnMart is proud to introduce ThermoSeal,  an embroidery backing that allows you to waterproof your embroidery.    Using this backing,  you can embroider on waterproof or water repellent fabrics without compromising their waterproof properties.   ThermoSeal flows into the needle holes,  sealing them and preventing moisture from penetrating.

To use ThermoSeal,  sew out your embroidery as normal.    Once your sew out is completed make sure to remove any excess stabilizer and that you have a clean field around the embroidered design.   Cut a piece of ThermoSeal that is just a 3/4 of an inch to an inch larger than your design on each side.   Place the piece of ThermoSeal on the back side of your embroidery with the adhesive side down.    The adhesive side is the side that would be face up when you’re looking at a roll of ThermoSeal and is slightly glossy.

Once you have your ThermoSeal placed,  the next step is to apply heat to seal the embroidery and make it waterproof.   Using a heat press, set to 265 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit,  press with medium pressure for 10 – 15 seconds.   This will melt the ThermoSeal and allow it to fill the holes created by the embroidery needles.    Once the embroidery is sealed,  it is recommended that you let the garment set for at least 48 hours before attempting to wash it.

ThermoSeal is an ideal product for use with winter weather gear,  wet weather gear and any kind of outdoor gear.    It would be perfect for monogramming rain boots or rain hats,  or for putting logos on gear for companies with employees who work outdoors.    ThermoSeal is available in 3 different sized rolls.

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7th March 2013

The EmbroideryTalk Series Posts

information.pegEvery once in a while I do a series of posts about a particular topic.   I haven’t done one in a while and today I asked on our Facebook page if people would be interested in reading an updated series of posts about backing.  The response was very favorable and several people also requested links to the last set of series posts I did, which are now some years old.   I figured the easiest way to answer that request was to collect all the posts I’d written on a particular topic in one blog post so people could read what they wished without having to search.

Subject:  Backing

Backing Basics: Specialty Backing

Backing Basics: Eco Friendly Backing 

Backing Basics:  Backing Weight

Backing Basics:  Types of Backing 

The Basics of Backing 

Subject: Embroidering Specialty Materials

Embroidering Performance Wear

How to Embroider Knit Fabrics 

Dry Weave Fabric 

Subject:  Patches Blank and Sublimated

Embroidering Single Patches: How To

Deciding Size and Type 

Sublimated Patches 

Why Buy Blank Patches from EnMart 

Subject:  Machine Embroidery Thread

Troubleshooting Thread Problems

Working with Metallic Thread 

Thread Conversions

The High Cost of Cheap Thread 

Now please do keep in mind that this blog has been in existence since 2007 so some of these posts may be a bit old.   Still, after reading through them,  I do think they still contain helpful information.  Hopefully you will as well.

posted in Backing/Stabilizers | 1 Comment

18th September 2012

Introducing Q-104 Water Soluble Topping

Those who follow EnMart on Facebook or who attended the NNEP Embroidery Mart in Nashville may already know about Q-104.  For those of you who don’t,  I thought it was time to do a blog post and let you all know about this revolutionary new topping and the great effects it can help you create.

First, let’s start with what Q-104 is and what it does.  Q-104 is a water-soluble felt topping for machine embroidery, perfect for creating vintage-styled, loose three-dimensional designs. Using Q-104 is simple, with most designs that feature fairly wide satin-stitch elements requiring very little alteration to achieve a three-dimensional effect.  Your imagination is the limit as to the textures you can create.  This topping dissolves easily in water leaving behind only the embroidery.

If you’re familiar with puffy foam,  Q-104 can help create a 3-d effect,  but is not exactly  the same sort of thing.  Designs do not need to be digitized specifically for Q-104,  nor does the excess topping need to be torn away once the embroidery is done.   Q-104 is water soluble,  so submersing your finished embroidery in water and agitating it will cause the topping to melt.  For best results,  running the embroidery through a cycle in your washing machine is recommended.

Creating a design for use with the Q-104 water soluble topping is relatively simple.  First, designate which portion of your design will be three-dimensional and execute it in a fairly wide satin stitch.  It’s easiest to always plan for the Q-104 to run last. If you have multiple 3-d elements in different colors, you can use the same piece of Q-104 for all 3-d color changes.  Because Q-104 washes away completely, you don’t have to worry about colored support material.  Just remember to stitch your two-dimensional elements first.

Q-104 can be used to create a wide variety of designs and effects.  Depending on the length and tightness of your stitches,  you can create small puffed letters,  or larger designs with a looser 3-d effect.   The only limit on what you can do with Q-104 is your imagination.  To request a sample,  contact us and we’ll be happy to send you one.   If you do create something awesome with Q-104,  send us a picture,  we’d love to see what you’ve made.

posted in Backing/Stabilizers | 2 Comments

7th May 2012

Introducing EconoTear

We at EnMart always try to do two things when we select a new product.  The first is to make sure it will be useful to our customers.   The second is to determine if we can sell the product at a price point that is reasonable for those that purchase while still generating revenue for EnMart.    When we find a product that meets all the criteria,   we’re always happy and excited about introducing that product to you.

Today I want to introduce the latest stabilizer product we’ve added to our inventory,  a backing we call EconoTear.  It is a 1.7 oz. backing,  and is a moderate quality tearaway.  Like all EnMart tearaway backings,  EconoTear is designed to tear away from your embroidery once you have completed your stitch out.   It tears cleanly,  and holds stitches well.    EconoTear is a non woven backing designed for general use,  and is recommended for sturdier fabrics.

Because EconoTear is a moderate quality tearaway,  it has a lower price point than some of the other EnMart tearaway products.   Currently,  EconoTear is available in white and packaged in 500 piece packs in the following sizes:

As this is a new product,  all three sizes are currently only stocked in full in the Traverse City location.   Our New Jersey,  Georgia and California locations currently may have a limited stock of the product, but will be stocked in full with EconoTear as sales increase.   If you have any questions about this product, or if you would like to request a sample,  please contact us for further information.


posted in Backing/Stabilizers | 2 Comments

10th April 2012

A Question for Quilters

I’ll admit,  I’m a devoted admirer of quilting,  but don’t have a lot of practical knowledge.   Mine is the sincere admiration of a person who wants to take beautiful quilts home and hang them on the wall as art,  but who has no real practical knowledge,  beyond the extremely basic, of how quilts are made.   I am however, as many of you know,  all about education,  although in this case I’m hoping it will be you sharing some knowledge with me  (not that you don’t always do that) instead of the other way around.  My specific interest is in the types of backing or stabilizer that quilters use when they create, if I even have the terms right.

I guess the first question I have would be about the terminology.  I see the word backing used to refer to the material that comprises the underside of the quilt,  the side that would lie on the bed.    Then there is the term batting.   From what I’ve read,  batting goes inside the quilt and helps determine its weight and warmth,  and then is covered by the backing.    What I would call backing or embroidery stabilizer doesn’t even come into the equation, as far as I can tell,  unless you plan to embroider squares or designs for your quilt.  Am I correct about that?

Finally, from what I understand, there are two basic types of quilting,  hand quilting and machine quilting.  Hand quilting is sewing the area to be quilted by hand.   Machine quilting,  which would be, I would think, where the stabilizer would come in,  involves using a sewing machine or long arm quilting machine to create your quilt.  I’m not sure, however, if you can embroider a quilt top all in one piece,  or if you embroider portions or squares first and then piece them together or if it can be done either way.

If you’re wondering why I’m asking all these questions,  it’s really some exploratory research to see if EnMart should or could start offering supplies for quilters.  We know that quilters already use Iris thread,  so it seemed a natural fit to start adding some other supplies.   I’m just trying to gather some information as to what we might want to offer and if offering quilting supplies would be a good fit.  If you quilt and you have any opinions to offer,  I’d love to hear them.


posted in Backing/Stabilizers | 6 Comments

16th November 2011

New Label, Same High Quality Backing

Many people who have been embroidering for some time may already be familiar with the JSI red-shirt logo.  This logo has symbolized quality stabilizer products for many embroiderers for a number of years.    Because we know the significance of this logo,  having used JSI products ourselves in the past,  EnMart has created a new label for our backing products.   Featuring the red t-shirt,  this label also features the EnMart logo and our URL on a distinctive blue background.   If you want quality backing products,  this is the label you need to see when you open your next backing order.

High quality backing is one of the foundation stones of any good embroidery project.  EnMart has always  proudly carried the JSI line of backing from QST.  John Solomon Inc. (JSI) is a name that has long been linked with quality stabilizer products,  and QST has carried on that tradition of excellence since they acquired the company.    The JSI product line offers a wide variety of premium stabilizer options,  as well as specialty items like poly meshBadgemaster and fusible products.

JSI backing is of wet-laid construction,  which means that the fibers are dispersed in a solution and then dried.  This creates a multi-directional, uniform non-woven,  which has even quality and won’t stretch.   The non-directional construction means that the tearaway backings of this type will tear easily in all directions.   Wet-laid backing also provides for a more even sheet of backing,  avoiding the lumps, bumps and thin spots that can occur with a lesser quality stabilizer.


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13th September 2011

What’s Your Favorite Stabilizer Style?

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook,  you’ll know that I’ve asked the question in the title of this post before.    Still,  I want to ask it in as many places as possible,  for a couple of reasons.   One reason is the fact that we always want to have the items our customers want in stock or at least readily available.   The second reason is that I’m working on revamping the backing inventory, and some items may be coming off the in stock list.   Given that I’m rearranging things,  I thought it would be helpful to have as much information as possible before I begin.

Currently,  EnMart carries  cutaway and tearaway stabilizers in rolls and pre-cut sheets.    We also have water soluble toppings and backings,  as well as adhesive backing.    If you mostly embroider knit shirts,  like polo shirts,  you may want to check out our poly mesh category.   EnMart also offers a small selection of FR backing.    These backing categories have developed over time as people have asked for a particularly type of backing,  or based on recommendations from our suppliers about what popular stabilizer types and sizes should be stocked.    Still the best information comes from you,  and I’d appreciate the help of anyone who can spare a minute to answer the following questions:

  1. Which do you prefer, rolls or pre-cuts?
  2. Do you use a lot of colored (i.e. beige, black) stabilizer?
  3. What’s the heaviest weight stabilizer you commonly use?
  4. If you use pre-cuts,  do you generally stick to a specific size, or do you use different sizes for different things?

Our goal is to create a stabilizer inventory that will let us meet the needs of the majority of our customers without overloading our inventory to the point where we’re stocking 80 different kinds of backing, each to satisfy the needs of an individual customer.    If you do have a specific need,  we will and do stock special items,   but that’s a whole different post.  Right now,  I’m just looking for information on what people generally use and what they prefer.   Any feedback you can give me on the questions above will be greatly appreciated.

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24th November 2010

Holiday Gift Ideas

Although it already seems like the holiday season has started,  and I’m sure it has for many embroidery businesses,  the official start of the season is Thanksgiving.  After Thanksgiving, it’s all a countdown to the gift giving season,  and your customers will be shopping and looking for the perfect gifts for the special people in their lives.    A great many people are interested in buying from local businesses and in purchasing unique, one of a kind gifts,  so this season is perfect for people who specialize in creating exactly those kind of products.  Just think of the options!

One option of course,  is creating specialty embroidered or monogrammed items.   If that’s on your list this year,  you will certainly want to check out our Iris UltraBrite Polyester or Iris Smooth ‘N Silky Rayon thread.   These threads offer bright, vibrant colors which will make your embroidery stand out.   Combine those threads with our Metallic Embroidery Thread and you’ll have a design that is not only colorful but brings the bling.   From shirts to stockings to a personalized teddy bear,  embroidered gifts are unique and something that will be treasured for years to come.

If Christmas ornaments are more your line,  you should take a look at Badgemaster.  An environmentally friendly, non-toxic, biodegradable film,  Badgemaster is perfect for creating holiday ornaments.  You can embroider directly into the film which supports intricate designs,  like lace or snowflakes.  Once the embroidery is finished,  simply dissolve the excess Badgemaster in water.    The embroidered portion retains its integrity and the design is ready to be hung on a tree or in a window.

For those who are more interested in screen print,  EnMart offers Ntrans transfers.   If you are unfamiliar with Ntrans transfers they are actual heat transferable screen printed designs developed by us for the industrial laundry industry. These transfers are commercially tested, will withstand a rigorous wash process, and last a long time.   If you want a long lasting transfer that will look great wash after wash,  take a look at our Ntrans product.   Samples of the transfers are available upon request.

posted in Backing/Stabilizers, Thread | Comments Off

5th May 2010

Backing Basics: Specialty Backing

Everyone most likely has a embroidery project that requires a special type of backing or topping.  Maybe you embroider golf towels and need something to keep the stitches from sinking into the fabric.   Perhaps you’re embroidering knit polo shirts and need a soft but firm backing that will keep the fabric from stretching.   Maybe you have smaller items, like blank patches,  that you need to secure so they can be embroidered.   There are a lot of jobs that might require a backing that is a bit outside the ordinary cutaway or tearaway varieties.  In this edition of Backing Basics I want to discuss a few of the specialty backings and how they can be used.

Poly Mesh Backing – This backing is ideal for knit fabrics and also works well with fabrics that are more sheer.   Use this backing to minimize stabilizer show through and also for any application where softness against the skin is a concern.   This is a great backing choice for use when embroidering polo and other knit shirts.

Water Soluble Topping/Backing –  Our water soluble option is a lightweight topping/backing solution that dissolves in water.   It is a great topping option when embroidering any material, like terry cloth, where the stitches can sink into the fabric.    This topping creates a smooth embroidery surface, and excess can easily be dissolved away with the application of water.

Badgemaster – Another option in the water soluble category, this is a film that can be used to create applique type embroidery.   You can embroider directly into the film, which is non toxic and biodegradable.    Badgemaster can also be used to support embroidery on difficult fabrics such as sportswear.

Adhesive Backing – Adhesive backing is used when you have hard to hoop items or to stabilize stretchy fabrics.   Our Peel and Stick backing is standard adhesive backing and does not require any activation.   EnMart’s Hydrostick backing requires water to activate the adhesive.   Both are designed to avoid gumming up needles or embroidery machines.

Flame Resistant (FR) Backing – If you do embroidery for fire departments, race car drivers or anyone who may encounter fire in the course of their work day,  FR backing is a must.   This is a white backing with flame resistant properties and is available in sheets and rolls.

Puffy Foam – If you like the look for 3-D embroidery, than puffy foam is the topping for you.  When placed over an already embroidered design, and then stitched over,  the puffy foam creates a 3-D appearance where it is placed.  Designs must be digitized for embroidery with puffy foam.   Most embroiderers match the color of their thread to the puffy foam they are using.

posted in Backing/Stabilizers | 2 Comments

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