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How To Use Stick And Stitch Paper [With Tips and Tricks]

One of the easiest ways to transfer embroidery patterns to fabric is by using water soluble stabilizer, and in this post you’ll learn how to use stick and stitch embroidery paper.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase an item.

stick and stitch embroidery stabilizer with a design printed on it

What is stick and stitch?

Stick and stitch is a water soluble material that has a cloth-like texture with adhesive on the back of it. It is a form of stabilizer that comes in sheets of paper that are the perfect size to fit in your printer. This makes it easy to directly print the design out but you can also trace onto it by hand.

Once you have printed out the design, you can stick it directly onto a piece of clothing or fabric and start stitching. When you’re all finished, the stabilizer dissolves in water.

stick and stitch embroidery paper on a denim pocket

What do you use stick and stitch stabilizer for?

Stick and stitch can be used for embroidery, punch needle, quilting, and more. It adds more support to your fabric and it also makes it very easy to transfer designs to fabric.

This post will focus primarily on using it for hand embroidery, but the process of using it and many of the tips are applicable for other kinds of needlecrafts as well.

Here are a few reasons you may want to use this stabilizer over other embroidery transfer methods:

  • On dark fabrics that would be hard to trace through
  • When the embroidery design is extremely detailed, making it hard to trace by hand
  • When you are embroidering on a thin or fragile piece of fabric that needs some extra support
  • On felt, knitting, and other more textured fabrics that may be harder to draw directly onto
  • On clothing

Fabrics To Use With Stick N Stitch

You can use pretty much any fabric that you’re able to stitch on with stick n stitch paper. Here are a few ideas:

Types of Stick And Stitch Paper

There are several different brands that make stick and stitch paper and they are all very similar. Here are some of the most common ones you’ll find online or at craft stores:

How To Use Stick And Stitch Paper

How To Print Embroidery Designs

You can print directly onto the stick and stitch using an inkjet or laser printer.

Place the paper in the printer tray. You’ll want to check your printer to see which side of the paper your printer prints on from the loading tray. (i.e. For my HP printer, the non-sticky stabilizer side is loaded facing down.)

Open the design you want to print out on your computer. (This is easiest in PDF format but you can also size an image to your liking in another media format as well.)

Print off the design using the default printer settings for standard printer paper, which is usually A4 or Letter size.

If you are using an inkjet printer, it’s helpful to print the design at a lower opacity. This will use less ink and lessen the chance that the design will bleed onto the fabric when you wash it away. It’s also helpful to do a test swatch of fabric using the stabilizer and printed design before you commit to using it!

Preparing For The Embroidery

cutting out the design
Luna Moth Stumpwork Pattern

Once you’ve printed out the design you want to stitch, cut it out, leaving at least a 1/2 inch margin around the printed design.

peeling the backing off of the stick and stitch paper

You can place the fabric in an embroidery hoop before you place the stick and stitch or leave the fabric loose. However you decide to do it, you’ll just want to make sure that the fabric is smooth and unwrinkled.

Peel the backing off of the paper and place it where you want to embroider. Press down on it firmly, making sure the entire design has adhered to the fabric.

sticking the embroidery design onto the fabric

How To Dissolve Stick and Stitch

washing and removing stick n stitch embroidery stabilizer off of a sweater

Take the fabric out of the hoop when you are done embroidering the design.

Submerge the embroidery in warm water for several minutes. *It’s really important to do this to thoroughly dissolve the stabilizer. Otherwise, some of the stick n stitch may remain and it may dry similar to glue and harden the embroidery.

Gently rub the stabilizer to remove any remaining pieces. If there are parts of the stabilizer that are stuck in small areas of the embroidery, you can continue to rub the embroidery under warm running water.

Double check the embroidery to make sure that all of the stabilizer has been removed and the embroidery doesn’t feel sticky at all.

Gently press the water out of the fabric. You can sandwich the fabric between two towels to get out excess water.

Then allow the embroidery to air dry. Avoid machine drying as this can shrink the fabric and also damage the embroidery stitches.

Stick and Stitch Tips

  • Since this stabilizer washes away with water, make sure that the fabric as well as the embroidery thread you are using is colorfast to ensure the dyes in them won’t bleed.
  • Depending on what fabric you are using, the stabilizer may not stick fully or may peel up around the edges. Firmly press and hold the stabilizer down before you start stitching on it. If this doesn’t help, add some loose basting stitches around the edge to temporarily secure the stabilizer onto the fabric.
  • Sometimes the moisture of your hands can cause your needle to get sticky when you’re stitching with this stabilizer. Keep a paper towel or dry cloth to periodically dry your hands and wipe the adhesive off the needle. If you’re not able to fully remove the stickiness, you can also use rubbing alcohol.
  • Having an extra layer to stitch through can make embroidering through certain fabrics a bit harder. If you find that it’s hard to stitch through, try using less thread and make sure you’re using a properly sized needle.
  • Finally, a needle sharpener is helpful to have on hand because your needle may dull more quickly. Run your needle through an emery sharper to sharpen the tip of the needle. This also helps to remove the adhesive that builds up on it.

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