FSL hooping and stabilizers

Quick Tip Tuesday (QTT) 
Watch the video or read the article below. It’s the same info!
After all, it’s all about crafting with machine embroidery!

Create Beautiful FSL Projects Every Time.

Today’s tip is learning about freestanding lace stabilizer and how to hoop your project even if your stabilizer isn’t perfectly flat.

If you’ve never done freestanding lace with your embroidery machine, it really needs to be on your gotta do creative list.

What is Freestanding Lace?

Free-standing lace or FSL are machine embroidery designs that are specifically digitized for FSL. The upper thread and the bobbin thread intertwine together creating a project or design that doesn’t need nor has fabric to hold it together.

You’re creating lace.

Depending on what thread you use such as rayon, polyester, twist, cotton or if you use the same color on the back for your bobbin as the front will all determine on how your project looks and feels.

But there’s one thing that all free standing lace projects have in common… 

They need a stabilizer that is both sturdy and has the ability to wash away.

There are two different types of wash away stabilizers available. And yes, almost every manufacturer of stabilizer makes one or both of these.

Plastic Wash Away Stabilizer

Plastic looking wash-a-way machine embroidery stabilizer.

Some plastic wash away stabilizers are off colored or cloud looking while others are completely clear. 

You can find plastic wash away on rolls, bolts, and in bags. The stabilizer is available in many different sizes and thicknesses. 

Fabric wash away stabilizer

Fabric Machine Embroidery Wash Away Stabilizer


This stabilizer looks and feels like fabric. If you run your hand over it you can feel the bias and it feels like fabric.

It’s available from most manufacturers of machine embroidery stabilizer. It comes in different sizes and thickness on bolts, rolls, and folded. 

Fabric stabilizer is usually a little more sturdy for free-standing lace then the plastic, even if it’s not as thick.

You can use either stabilizer for your freestanding lace but remember you may need to use more than one layer in order to have your design look absolutely fabulous.

Personally, I like the fabric type of wash away stabilizer for my free standing lace projects. And I use 2 layers. 

Why? Well I have found that it seems to be a little bit thicker and easier to handle. Plus, my FSL projects come out much nicer than when I use the plastic type of stabilizer or only one layer of fabric stabilizer. 

Hooping FSL stabilizer

Hooping stabilizer for your FSL project even when it has wrinkles or creases in it. 

When you’re hooping free standing lace stabilizer you don’t want folds.

You have to smooth the stabilizer so when the embroidery needle penetrates the stabilizer it does cause bumps. 

Yes, the stabilizer will wash away but your design will not be as neat and clean as if it was flat.

I wouldn’t recommend ironing your stabilizer either – it make a mess. If you’ve ironed your wash-a-way fabric stabilizer successfully please leave a comment below and let us know how and the results. 

Make sure you’re using  the smallest hoop possible for your design. 

If you have questions about hooping check out our hooping demo. 

smooth stabilizer

1. Smooth out the stabilizer without stretching or pulling. 

2. Fold the stabilizer in half or use two pieces for hooping.

3. Make sure your hoop is a little bigger than normal. 

4. Set the stabilizer on the hoop and hold it without stretching it.  


smooth out and fold in half
slide hoop into frame

5. While holding the stabilizer slide the top portion of the hoop into the  frame smoothing out as many crinkles as possible. 

6. Once the hoop is in place double check that everything is smoothed. Then tighten down the screw.

7. After tightening down the hoop use anything that comes with your hoop for better hooping. This hoop comes with magnets.

There are still some crinkles in the stabilizer, but there aren’t any folds. 

Hooping FSL stabilizer

Embroider Your FSL Design

FSL Running
FSL embroidering
FSL embroidering

Trimming Your FSL Embroidery

1. Take the design completely out of your hoop. 

2. Trim around the edge of the design removing the excess stabilizer. 

This will ruin your design. 

3. Soak your design in warm water and lay flat to dry.

Keep the leftover stabilizer, it’s a great way to save money on your machine embroidery supplies.

There are many projects you can use it on even if the pieces aren’t large enough for another free standing lace project. 

You can use the left overs as a topper for any other project wash-a-way stabilizer is needed. 

Go make your next freestanding lace project and enjoy!

Happy Embroidering!

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