Stick and Stitch Embroidery Tips

Stick & Stitch Makes Transferring so easy!

What is Stick and Stitch?

Some embroiderers don’t mind the step of transferring images to fabric but it can take a little time which isn’t really all that fun when you’re really excited to start stitching.

You can try transferring images onto fabric using my favorite method which is to use my home printer and some sticker paper, or there’s always stick and stitch packs like the ones I sell in my Etsy shop.

stick and stitch designs, needle, and thread

If you’re not too familiar with stick and stitch they are thin stickers made from sticky stabilizer such as Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy with embroidery patterns printed on them, and they dissolve with water when you’re done. Not only do they save you time but they provide you with nice crisp lines.

That means you can get started immediately and the placement of your stitches will be more accurate than if you were to draw the designs on. I love it!

Not only can you use this on hooped fabric but also on other things such as shoes, purses, and clothing. It’s really difficult to use the window method or even carbon paper on surfaces that aren’t totally flat so stick and stitch designs are perfect in those cases.

I’ll explain how to use them and share some tips because even though it seems self-explanatory there are a few things that I’ve learned working with them which will help understand their nature and avoid some common mistakes.

Why Isn’t Stick & Stitch Super Sticky?

When I first started using stick and stitch I was surprised that they weren’t stickier and I initially had some issues with it sticking to my fabric. I experimented using as many brands of sticky stabilizer as I could (there aren’t that many) and in the end they were all pretty equal in stickiness.

As it turned out it my issue was purely user error as I just plopped my sticker on without taking the time to make sure it was adhered properly.

Stick and stitch stabilizers are made with medium stickiness and this is by design. You’ll be hard pressed to find a brand that is really sticky and I’ve learned that this is for a few important reasons:

  • It prevents stubborn leftover glue residue being left behind on your project when the stabilizer is dissolved in water.
  • If you don’t place it on just right you’ll be able to peel it off and re-adjust it easily. Don’t move it around too often though as it won’t stick as well as it could each time it’s move around.
  • As you work your needle through the stick and stitch stabilizer your needle can pick up a bit of that sticky residue which can make stitching a little rough. It’s easy to clean off with a little rubbing alcohol but it can get annoying if you have to do it often. Stabilizer glue is of medium stickiness so you won’t have to clean off your needle constantly.

Stick & stitch stabilizers are of medium stickiness by design. Give it a good rub against a hard surface after sticking to help it adhere well to your fabric.

How to Use Stick & Stitch Stickers

Stitch and stick stickers typically come in packs and are cut to size so you shouldn’t have to do any trimming.

Just peel the backing off and place the sticker onto a clean surface.

peeling the back off of a stick and stitch sticker

Rub it against a hard surface to help it adhere. Be sure to give it an extra rub along the edges.

If you’re using hooped fabric, hoop your fabric first and add the sticky design. Then turn it over onto a hard surface and rub the back, paying extra attention to the edges.

You’re read to start stitching. If you notice your needle is getting a little sticky as you work, wipe it down with a little bit of rubbing alcohol.

When you’re finished stitching, remove your fabric from the hoop (if you’re using a hoop), and set your fabric into a bowl of warm water for about 2 minutes or so. It won’t hurt to leave it in there a few minutes longer but I find that a couple of minutes is pretty good.

You’ll see the stabilizer slowly dissolving away. Gently rub away any that are still attached. Rinse it under warm running water (gently running).

Lay your project out flat to dry. Rehoop (if you’re using a hoop) when it’s completely dry.

Tips

Using stick and stitch stickers are pretty easy but here are some things I’ve learned along the way that you’ll find useful.

  • Some fabrics may shrink after washing so it’s a really good idea to use fabric that’s been washed and dried before using stick and stitch on them.
  • Stick and stitch stickers can be used on a variety of fabrics but works best on smooth fabrics like cotton and linen which have little texture or stretch. It’s also easier to see on light fabric.
  • While smooth fabrics work best for stick and stitch stickers, it’s a great option for using on fabrics that are difficult to see through or draw on such as felt. I always use it on my felt appliqué projects.
  • Stretchy fabrics can create a lot of problems when stitching such as uneven stitches and I steer clear of them but if you really want to use a stick and stitch design on something that stretches it might be a good idea to add a thicker stabilizer to the back to help keep it’s shape better. This is something I haven’t tried so if you try it I’d love to know how it worked for you!
  • Be sure your hands are dry and avoid high humidity as this can make your stick and stitch as well as your needle a bit sticky or even dissolve prematurely.
  • Test out your embroidery threads. Embroidery threads are not all created equal and you may find that some will bleed when they get wet which can stain your project. That would be utterly disappointing after putting in all that time so don’t skip this!
  • Before you stick on your stick and stitch design use a lint brush across the surface to help with adhesion. You can also stick a few small pins onto your sticker to help keep it in place if you’d like.
  • Hold the edge of your stick and stitch down with your finger when stitching along the edge and pull your needle through gently. If you pull too hard or too fast it can pull the sticker up.
  • If you’re drawing your own designs onto sticky stabilizer use a light pen or pencil. Remember that in the end you’ll have to wash the stabilizer away and if your ink is on thick there’s a possibility of it bleeding onto your fabric.

I hope you find these tips useful and helpful! Have fun sticking and stitching!

If you need some stick and stitch packs to keep you busy don’t forget to stop by my Etsy shop! Oh, and just fyi, if you’re signed up for my newsletter I send out exclusive coupons whenever I add new stick and stitch packs.

Happy stitching!

How to Use Stick & Stitch
Stitching up a Stick & Stitch

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