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Stabilizers for Machine Applique

by Elaine
(Montgomery, IL)

I am going to do my first machine applique.

Is it okay to use copier paper as a stabilizer? I have the pieces anchored with Steam A Seam and am going to do a blanket stitch by machine. Thanks.


Good temporary stabilizers need to be strong enough to support the applique stitches while stitching, and yet easy to completely remove once the stitching is done.

The cheaper the copier paper, the better, as it will be thinner, more light weight and easier to tear away. A clean, pressed coffee filter is another alternative to try that's cheap and convenient.

Do take a couple of minutes and make a practice block. It doesn't have to be big or specially cut. Just use the scraps with Steam a Seam on them that came from cutting out your shapes.

Once the applique shapes are permanently ironed to your background fabric, it is possible you won't need any stabilizer for the blanket stitch. So do test first with the same threads and needle you'll be using for your project. Most importantly, check to see how easily the chosen stabilizer tears away. Did it distort your stitches. If so, try another.

My preference for a paper stabilizer is newsprint paper like Carol Doak's Foundation Paper (8-1/2 Inch x11 Inch 100/Pkg for about $10.00) It's very easy to tear away once the stitching it finished. AND you can use it for paper piecing too.

If these do not work for you, another alternative is to use starch or sizing to stiffen the background fabric. You will need to wash the blocks once they are finished to remove the starch. (For more information on adding and removing starch see Starch Quilt Fabric and Washing Applique Quilt Blocks.)

Since you mentioned Steam A Seam, here are a couple of extra hints for it's use:
  • Prewash your fabrics. The fusible will "stick" better once the finishing chemicals from the fabric have been removed.

  • If your needle gets sticky or gummy during stitching, use a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol to wipe the needle and remove the gook.
Readers, do you have any other suggestions for Elaine? Do join in the conversation.

Elaine, I thank you for your question and hope my answer has been helpful.


Julie Baird

Comments for Stabilizers for Machine Applique

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Thank you SO much
by: Karen in CA

I am making an appliqué quilt. I want to machine appliqué it after fusing the pieces (done already). I didn't know if I could add a stabilizer after the fusing was done. Your reply was very helpful. Thanks a million!

by: Anonymous


Thank you for your kind words. I love to quilt and like to help others when I can. Seeing your note last night was the perfect end to a long, but very enjoyable work day.

You made my day!


PS Now don't forget to share your finished quilt at Share Your Quilts. I'd love to see it and I'm sure our visitors would too!

by: Elaine


Thanks so much for your helpful information. You have thoroughly covered the question with lots of suggestions. I am really enjoying this web site. Great help for quilters who are not yet confident.

Elaine in IL

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