A Guide to Embroidery Fabrics

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To be honest there really aren’t any fabrics you can’t embellish, but some fabrics are more suited to specific techniques or just make the whole process less complex.

Firstly, try and avoid anything synthetic, partly on an environmental level they take forever to degrade, but they also tend to be slippery, and the synthetic elements damage the thread.   Stretch, until you have been working a while, don’t do this to yourself. It easy to over stretch the fabric ruining it and the design completely over, it takes a while to master the tension, and that’s hard enough while mastering a new stitch. You will also need stabilisers and other items to handle it.  Also, the denser the fabrics, such a denim, leather, canvas mean you must push harder to get the needle through and can be rough on the fingers and hands. 

Basics first,

For cross stitch – Aida, even -weave in both cotton and linen are used, but silk gauze can also be used for working in miniature. This is simply because the holes are naturally in the fabric.  Aida is specifically made for cross stitch, it comes in different counts (this is threads per inch) the smaller the number the larger the holes and the bigger the piece, some brands even come with the grid pre- marked for ease when doing a counted cross stitch piece.  

Most beginners start on Aida and then move to even-weave fabrics as they gain confidence.

Crewel work – this technique uses of course 2 ply crewel wool from where it gets its name. Traditionally this is done on linen Twill, this is a lovely hard-wearing fabric, but gentle on the thread when sewing. It’s also forgiving. (Easy to unpick without leaving a mark). Unfortunately, it’s rather hard to come by, only one supplier in the U.K, hence a rather hefty price tag.  I have seen bull denim used as a substitute, similar look to twill but stiffer and hash on the wools, but easily obtainable and less expensive.  Some modern designers use other fabrics like canvas, cotton, and silks, which are all acceptable alternatives. But not if going for a traditional look.

Blackwork – this can be done on Aida, but its rare. It’s usually done on a high-count linen, about 55 to 65 threads per inch for a fine design. Though it can be done on a lower thread count. The fabric is usually bright white for the best contrast, but again it doesn’t have to be.

Gold work – For training we have always been encouraged to use silk dupion or Silk Velvet (this come is two types 100 % silk which means both the pile and the backing are silk, of a silk and rayon mix). The pure silk velvet is harder to obtain and pricier.  We also use calico to support the silk, this is because goldwork can be quite aggressive on the silk fibre and the weight of the threads cause it to stretch.  So Calico is used to act as a foundation. I have used good quality quilters cotton and cashmere fabrics, but I have always supported with calico. 

We also use a lot of felt, carpet felt, card, leather, cork, and string to act as supports to the gold threads and wire.

Silk Shading / thread painting – Whilst training we were again encouraged to use silk dupion, but any good quality cotton / linen would work. but again, it’s best to support with calcio. The density of stitching can cause the top fabric to stretch.

White work – this can be done on muslins, nets, and high-count linens. When training we are encouraged to use 55 count linen or church cloth (high count cotton).  The high count keeps the fabric stable when you remove thread for drawn work or Broderie anglaise.  But has enough give to allow pulled work to show.  For fine work, we also use silk net and gauze.

Applique – Can use almost any fabric, its encouraged to use chiffons, nets, silk, leather, basically anything goes if you understand how to edge (hide the tucked edge, make a frayed edges etc 

Stumpwork – again almost anything can be used, but for the backing a good high-count fabric like silk, cotton or linen is best as it can withstand the wires and supports being force through the fabric to secure them. Felt is also used a padding, with stuffing and carpet felt. 

Tapestry / needlepoint – this uses a glued cotton / linen canvas, it’s very stiff or for 3d models’ plastic.  The holes are premade in its loose weave, meaning it comes in a variety of counts (fewer holes per inch the bigger the design, usually used for rugs and carpet work. the hight counts for cushions and chair covers). It come is white and natural.  The same technique can be used of a silk gauze for miniature work or very fine pieces stitched in silk rather than 4 ply or 2 ply wools.

General surface embroidery – this uses all sorts of places. I usually use a good quality linen, as it unpicks well and traditionally it was used for samplers. But, again quality cottons, silks even poly cottons can work.  Leather has been done but its brutal on the fingers and no unpicking as every stitch leaves a hole.  Denim is a fun one to try, but it’s hard on the threads, making them sheer and fluffy, but it’s also hard on the fingers.

Tambour / Lunville  – Luneville embroidery is an umbrella term for various types of tambour embroidery, originating from the French town of Lunéville (Lorraine, France), where in the late eighteenth century a number of embroiderers had settled. Around 1810 they invented a form of tambour embroidery, using a very fine tulle cloth, which was decorated with chain stitch. Luneville embroidery may thus be classed as a form of embroidered net lace.

By 1865 a local embroiderer called Louis-Bonnechaux Ferry started to add beads and sequins onto his work (broderie perlée et pailletée), still using a tambour hook (in this case named the crochet de Lunéville). The innovation caused a boom in Luneville work, as French fashion required more and more heavily beaded garments and trimmings. This trend quickly spread to other parts of Europe (compare Lier lace). The First and Second World Wars of the twentieth century however, plus a change in fashion, led to a decline in the popularity of Luneville embroidery and many embroidery companies vanished.

The economic changes in the 1950’s brought new opportunities, as beaded bags became popular again. In the latter half of the twentieth century beaded haute couture garments became fashionable and many of these creations were and continued to be made in Lunéville.   for this we start on net and more to tuile, chiffon, organdie and organza.

Stabilisers – these come in a range of types, iron on the back, stitch and tear, also water-soluble fleece and film.  These are used to support a fabric while stitching but often to help transfer the design. 

For other techniques such as hardanger, even weave and linens ae used, chicken scratch requires a cotton check or gingham pattern

Fabric descriptions – some countries use different terms (sometimes incorrectly) for fabrics so…

Calico – Calico has a long and cultured history as one of the oldest materials in India. The fabric was discovered by the British during their reign in the country. Historians have estimated that India produced around a quarter of the world’s cloth, even without industrial machines. ‘Calico’ comes from the word ‘Calicut’ which was a European name for the city of Kozhikode, in Kerala (Southwestern India). Calico is woven from cotton fibres and being made from cotton crops it’s completely natural. Because of its unfinished state, there are often flecks of cotton seeds visible in the fabric. It tends to have a cream or grey tinged finish, making it the perfect base to be dyed or printed on. The process of making calico is essentially the same as making cotton cloth but stopping before the cotton is fully processed. Textile mills receive raw cotton in bales and generally process them in stages. They first pull the fibres into alignment and remove impurities. They smooth the fibres out, spin the fibres to strengthen them and then begin the weaving course. Calico fabric is created using a ‘plain’ weave which sees the lengthwise yarns (the weft) passing over and under the crosswise yarns (the warp), alternating each row. All though you may not notice it, Calico is everywhere, often serving as a neutral base for creativity. Artists canvases, fashion designers’ mock-up dresses, curtains, pillowcases, furnishings, and bags are just a few uses.

Muslin – Muslin is a cotton fabric which is made with a plain weave. Made from a wide range of weights, the fabric is woven layer by layer, producing a very distinctive pattern.

It is believed that the name muslin comes from the fact that Europeans believed the fabric originated in Iraq. It comes from the French ‘mousseline’, from Italian, ‘mussolina’, from Mussolo ‘Mosul’. Mosul is the city in Northern Iraq where Marco Polo had documented muslin to have originated. In fact, this is just where Europeans discovered it; muslin is thought to have originated in Dhaka, which was in Bengal

Early muslin was entirely hand woven, and it was done so using uncommonly delicate yarn, which had been handspun. Dhaka had the upper hand in every sense here and was the only place that could make the muslin fabric.

The cotton plants, a specific species known as ‘phuti karpas’, was native to the area, not just Dhaka itself, but to a stretch of land that was 12 miles to the south-east, along the bank of the Meghna. Despite multiple attempts to do so, every attempt to grow this fabric elsewhere failed. The thread is then spun in very humid conditions, which was most often in the morning or the evening. The weavers, who were all young women, would work with water bowls around them to humidify the air and keep it moist.

In the modern age, muslin is made from either cotton or a poly-cotton and features the same plain weave as the original. Still woven with a net-like, open-sett construction, which is similar to that of cheesecloth, you can have all of the delicateness of cotton muslin with all the hardiness of synthetic fabric.

Silk Dupion – Dupioni (also referred to as Douppioni or Dupion) is a plain weave crisp type of silk fabric, produced by using fine thread in the warp and uneven thread reeled from two or more entangled cocoons in the weft. This creates tightly woven yardage with a highly lustrous surface. It is similar to shantung, but slightly thicker, heavier, and with a greater slub (crosswise irregularity) count.

Dupioni is often woven with differing colours of threads scattered through the warp and weft. This technique gives the fabric an iridescent effect, similar to but not as pronounced as shot silk taffeta. Dupioni can be woven into plaid and striped patterns; floral or other intrinsic, intricate designs are better suited for lighter-weight silks and/or those with smoother finishes, although dupioni may be embroidered in any manner desired.

Along with shantung, dupioni is popular in bridal and other formal wear. It is suitable for upholstery, but if it is crafted into a curtain or drape, a substantial underlining must be used to protect the fabric from sunlight.

In India, Varanasi, also known as Banaras, is one of the major manufacturers of Dupion. Weavers of nearby villagers, mainly of the Ansari community, have been producing fabrics for generations. The major demands of the Indian wedding industry are met by this city.

There is also now a Chinese power woven version which has fewer slubs and is much tighter in the weave.

Evenweave linen – is a textile made from the fibres of the flax plant.

Linen is very strong, absorbent, and dries faster than cotton. Because of these properties, linen is comfortable to wear in hot weather and is valued for use in garments. It also has other distinctive characteristics, notably its tendency to wrinkle

Linen textiles appear to be some of the oldest in the world; their history goes back many thousands of years. Dyed flax fibres found in a cave in South-eastern Europe (present-day Georgia) suggest the use of woven linen fabrics from wild flax may date back over 30,000 years. Linen was used in ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, and linen is mentioned in the Bible. In the 18th century and beyond, the linen industry was important in the economies of several countries in Europe as well as the American colonies.

Textiles in a linen weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp, or other non-flax fibres, are also loosely referred to as “linen”.

balanced fabric is one in which the warp and the weft are of the same size. In weaving, these are generally called “balanced plain weaves” or just “balanced weaves”, while in embroidery the term “even-weave” is more common.

Linen twill – Twill fabrics are strong, heavy, and durable fabrics that come in a range of styles. Twill fabrics are created by offsetting the crossings of weft and warp to produce a diagonal or herringbone texture. Because of its structure twill fabrics drape well. Twill fabrics have a high yarn count which is possible due to a reduced number of interlacing’s, this gives the fabric its durability, water, and air resistance. Currently the only place producing it is a single mill in Edinburgh. 

Wool – wool fabrics come in a range of thread types, and densities and weaves,

Wool is the textile fibre obtained from sheep and other animals, including cashmere and mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, hide and fur clothing from bison, angora from rabbits, and other types of wool from camelids. Wools are usually harvested by clipping the animal, making it a more sustainable cloth.  I have used most types to work on and unless the are a stretch ( jersey) or a loose weave I haven’t needed to back them. They do almost all need dry cleaning or very careful washing and drying as very prone to shrink.

Wool consists of protein together with a small percentage of lipids. In this regard it is chemically quite distinct from the more dominant textile, cotton, which is mainly cellulose

Classification of wool according to the type of sheep, location, etc. 

1. Merino wool

Merino Wool is the softest and finest of all wool fabrics. This long-lasting fabric is one of the most desirable wool fabrics and expensive as well. It is made from the fleece of Merino sheep and is made mostly in Australia and New Zealand.

2. Border Leicester Wool  

Border Leicester wool is named after the place of origin of the long wool breed sheep whose long fleece is used to make this beautiful fabric. It is a very durable fabric that can last a very long time. It is used for making coats and dresses

3. Cheviot  

Cheviot is a woollen fabric made originally from the coarse wool of the Cheviot sheep raised in the Cheviot hills of England; Generally, the term is used to describe medium to heavy woollen fabrics with a shaggy surface texture. It is popular as a coating fabric

4. Shetland wool  

This is a wool fabric made from sheep found in Scotland. It has all the fine qualities of the best of wool fabrics – and keeps a person very warm.  It is very suitable for making winter clothing. The fabric is a little rough though

5. Melton wool  

Wool Melton is a felted medium or heavy weight somewhat bulky fabric with a smooth nap. It is commonly used for coats.

Classification of wool according to process, quality, etc.

6. Lambswool  

This refers to wool fabric made from fleece that is shorn when a lamb is just six or seven months old as its first shearing. The fabric made with this wool is very strong and soft and does not need much processing. It is considered as the best wool in terms of quality.

7. Lightweight wool

If you think wool fabric is always thick and bulky you are wrong. For a lightweight drapey fabric made with wool fibres – there are many choices. Lightweight wool is loosely but firmly woven and hangs very beautifully. Woollen Batiste is a very soft fine lightweight woollen fabric. Crepe is lightweight worsted wool; Albatross is a lightweight woollen fabric with a slightly crepe surface. Woollen challis is also lightweight. Wool challis is a plain weave woollen fabric and an absolute favourite for dressmaking

8. Plain or Twill Worsted wool suiting’s  

Worsted wool has a smooth finish and is durable. It is the most popular fabric for making coats, jackets trousers etc. Worsted wool is made after wool fibres are spun into yarn which is then knitted or woven into fine fabrics. After the fabric is made it goes through a process in which unwanted fibres are removed which makes it very smooth.

9. Virgin wool  

This is wool taken from a lamb’s first shearing, which will be very fine and soft or wool that has never been processed or used in any way. 

10. Boiled Wool  

Boiled wool is a special stretchy, felted heavyweight wool fabric with insulating qualities. It is dense, durable, and water-resistant because the wool undergoes a special washing process which makes it thick. It is used for making berets, jackets, cardigans, vests, coats etc.

11. Super wool

This is wool that is categorized according to the fine quality of its fibres. It measures the fibres used per inch of the cloth, similar to thread count.   When you go shopping for wool you will hear classifications like Super 100, 110, 120, 150 etc. Higher the number finer the wool 

12. Wool Chinchilla

This is a fabric with curled tufts or nubs on the fabric surface. This special texture is made on a chinchilla machine. First, the nap is made using the machine and then rubbed to create the rounded curled tufts  

13. Organic wool

Various toxic materials like harsh scouring agents, dyes and bleaches used to clean and whiten the wool, formaldehyde, conditioners, mothproofing, harsh chemical dyes, and other, often toxic additives to finish the fabric and garments are used in conventional wool production. Organically grown wool fabric and wool garments are free of all these.

Organic wool is obtained from sheep that have been raised without synthetic or harmful chemicals under healthy, natural, and responsible animal husbandry methods. The sheep graze on pesticide-free land and they are raised with such organic animal husbandry methods that they do not have external and internal parasites which may have had to be treated with antibiotics. Chemicals are not used in the wool production process resulting in the organic wool fabric which is free of all carcinogenic or allergy creating particles.

Classification of wool according to the type of fabric made 

14. Gabardine  

Gabardine is a firm tightly woven fabric with a diagonally ribbed surface (twill weave) on one side and smooth texture on the other. It is very durable and strong and is used to make trousers, suits, jackets, overcoats etc. It is also suitable for making bags.

15. Loden  

This is a water-resistant woollen material. It is used for making coats.

16. Wool jersey 

This is a knit fabric (hand knitted or machine knitted) made with wool yarn. It is used to make sweaters, cardigans etc.

17. Boucle  

This refers to woollen fabrics with curly twisted loops on the surface. This is a result of its special construction. The curled loopy surface texture makes this fabric unique.

18. Wool Batting

This is the inside layer used in quilts and beddings for insulation – you will get batting made with wool fibres which are superior to the batting made with cotton or polyester.

19. Broadcloth

Broadcloth is a dense, strong woollen cloth

20. Herringbone patterned wool  

This wool fabric has a distinctive zigzag weaving pattern which looks like the skeleton of a herring fish. This is a much in demand fabric for making jackets and trousers.

21. Tweed

Wool tweed is a very popular wool fabric best suited for making jackets, waistcoats, hats and other winter clothing. The fabric is so named after the Tweed River in Scotland where it was first made.

It may have a plain or twill weave and has an attractive check or herringbone pattern with a subtle rough texture. It is traditionally made from coarse homespun wool.

Subtle colour effects are seen on its surface because of the way it is made by twisting differently coloured woollen strands into a two- or three-ply yarn. It is a very durable fabric, moisture-resistant, breathable, and warm.

22. Wool felt

Felted wool is a non-woven fabric. Wool felt is the most common and very popular felt fabric. It is soft and more supple than acrylic felt and is very durable. It is used for making home decor items, hats, and jackets and for craft projects. 

23. Lincoln Wool  

Lincoln wool fabrics is a high-quality wool fabric that is very popular for making suits and other garments. It is expensive and highly regarded for its appearance.

24. Flannel  

Flannel is a popular wool fabric in plain or twill weave which has a brushed or napped surface on either one or both sides. It is popularly used to make night wear clothes like pyjamas.

25. Tartan  

This is a traditional Scottish woollen cloth with a distinctive plain or check fabric pattern. The most famous use of tartan cloth is to make Scottish kilts. It is also used for making jackets, suits, and skirts.

26. Chenille

This is a velvety textured fabric with a soft tufted pile surface made with woollen fibres.

27. Wool Sharkskin

This is a wool fabric with a pronounced twill weave and smooth surfaced two-toned woven appearance. The yarns in warp and weft are alternated with two colours like white and another colour which results in the two-toned look.

Classification of wool made from other animals. 

28. Alpaca wool  

This is a soft luxurious fuzzy textured wool fabric made from fleece of Alpaca (camel family) with a cotton knitted or woven back. The best advantage of using this wool is that it is hypoallergenic. Other than that, it is as soft and warm as any other superior wool like merino or cashmere.

29. Mohair

Mohair is a very soft silky and lustrous heavy-weight woollen fabric made from Angora goat. The fabric has a very fuzzy surface. It is very expensive but because of the beautifully luxurious and lustrous look, it is much coveted. It is mainly used for making coats and jackets.

30. Cashmere  

This is one of the finest and softest of all textiles. It is made from fibre obtained from the Tibetan Wild (Cashmere) goat. The clothes made from this fabric is very warm but the weight of the fabric as such is very light

31. Vicuna wool 

This is wool made from the fleece obtained from the vicuna; it is said to be the most expensive of all fabrics as vicuna wool is rare wool. A Vicuna Jacket can cost up to $21,000 as seen here.

32. Camel hair

This is the fabric made from the undercoat of the Bactrian camel. The resultant tan or brown coloured fabric is very soft and is used to make scares sweaters jackets and blankets. General use of the term describes soft heavy woollen fabrics without any genuine camel’s hair in it

Aida – This material is generally made from 100% cotton. That makes the fabric soft to the touch as well as easy to clean. Then you may find some of this material made from a linen and cotton blend.

The added linen may add some strength as well as durability to your project. If you find this material made from synthetic fibres it will be up to your preference to buy it or not. We have not found anyone anywhere mentioning anything other than cotton and linen as the construction fibres.

Canvas –Needlepoint Canvas is made up of a loosely woven square netting with horizontal and vertical threads that weave over and under each other at evenly spaced intersections. During the manufacturing process, the vertical or warp threads are placed on the weaving loom first and provide the foundation for the canvas. The horizontal or weft threads are then woven back and forth over and under the warp threads to make the final ground fabric used in needlepoint.

Needlepoint stitches are worked at the intersections of the warp and weft threads, covering the canvas entirely when stitching a design.

After the weaving process has been completed, needlepoint canvas is then stiffened with sizing to keep the woven strands in place for stitching a design. This sizing is similar to fabric starch; but made of a stronger solution that when completely dry and polished, will be able to withstand the constant rubbing and pulling of needlepoint yarn as it is worked consistently through the canvas. There are two basic types of needlepoint canvas—single thread and double thread—including common varieties like Mono, Interlock, and Penelope; as well as novelty examples of even-weave materials that fall in one or both types. Most needle pointers have a type they prefer to use every time they make a needlepoint project.

Every needlepoint project starts with a result in mind. Understanding the basic types of 

canvas is critical for deciding which kind to use. For example, if your needlepoint project is meant to be a pillow, single thread canvas is most appropriate; if a portrait with detailed areas for the face or hands, then double thread canvas should be used.

Silk Gauze –Silk gauze is a 100% pure filament silk canvas. The silk threads are fine but very strong. Silk gauze is woven in a leno structure, which increases the stability of the canvas. Leno weave interlocks the weft threads making it almost impossible for them to shift.

Stitch on fine counts of silk gauze anytime you want a small, delicate piece of needlework. Miniaturists and doll house enthusiasts enjoy silk gauze needlepoint pieces because you can achieve realistic looking items. For example, doll house rugs, pillows, pictures, and bell pulls can be stitched to scale: 40-count silk gauze is perfect for 1-inch to 1-foot scale.

Silk gauze work is also now popular among needle pointers looking for something different to stitch on or for making detailed embroidery like jewellery.

Quilter’s cotton – Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fibre that grows in a boll, or protective case, around the seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium in the mallow family Malvaceae. The fibre is almost pure cellulose. Under natural conditions, the cotton bolls will increase the dispersal of the seeds.

The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, Egypt and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa.  Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds.

The fibre is most often spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile. The use of cotton for fabric is known to date to prehistoric times; fragments of cotton fabric dated to the fifth millennium BC have been found in the Indus Valley Civilization, as well as fabric remnants dated back to 6000 BC in Peru. Although cultivated since antiquity, it was the invention of the cotton gin that lowered the cost of production that led to its widespread use, and it is the most widely used natural fibre cloth in clothing today.

Quilter’s cotton comes in a huge range of colours / prints and has a high thread count. Its always 100% cotton, never a mix of fibres suggest washing before use as some colours rub off onto threads and hands, it also allows for shrinkage.

Sateen – is a fabric made using a satin weave structure but made with spun yarns instead of filament. We predominately use a cotton sateen for backing all mounted pieces 

The sheen and softer feel of sateen is produced through the satin weave structure. Warp yarns are floated over weft yarns, for example four over and one under (for a five-harness satin weave). In a weft-faced satin or sateen, the weft yarns are floated over the warp yarns. Standard tabby weaves use a one-over, one-under structure.

Chiffon – Chiffon is a term that is used to refer to a wide variety of different types of fabrics that all share similar qualities. This type of fabric is sheer, which means that it is light and semi-transparent with a simple weave.

This type of fabric was originally made from silk, and it was both expensive and in high demand among upper-class women in Europe and the United States when it was originally marked in the mid-19th century. The term “chiffon” is French, and it literally translates as “cloth” or “rag,” but this word has come to be synonymous with any type of lustrous, sheer fabric that is woven in a particular style. Chiffon fabric was first made in France, but the production of this substance expanded worldwide as the Industrial Age picked up steam. By the first few decades of the 1900s, silk chiffon was in relatively wide production in the United States, and producers of this fabric in America were starting to show interest in replacing silk with another material for chiffon production. most are now either nylon or polyester.

Net – is an umbrella term used for describing open mesh fabrics. In net fabric, yarns are knitted, knotted, loope d, or twisted at intersections forming a piece of fabric with lots of open spaces /holes. These holes are formed in many geometric shapes (maybe four-sided, six-sided, or more). The shape can be square, hexagonal, or octagonal.

Most of the net fabric today is knitted. The three types of construction methods used in net fabric manufacturing are Tricot, Raschel, and Bobbinet and this determines the shape of the holes. Raschel Knitting is the most common method of making netting. In this netting geometric shaped hole are formed by knitting yarns. The fabric is formed by a combination of a pillar and tricot stitches.

The size of the holes varies greatly in size depending on the function of the net fabric. The type and size of the yarn, finishing given also determines the type of netting fabric. The finishes applied on net include starch or resin type finish.

The net fabric can be made of different fibres like silk, polyester rayon, Dacron, acetate or nylon. This composition determines a lot about the feel of the fabric. It can be fine or coarse or stiff. A silk net fabric is super soft whereas the nylon netting is somewhat stiff. Polyester netting can be coarse to even very soft. Most of the net you get in fabric shops is usually Nylon net.

Different types of net fabrics

Tulle The most famous netting fabric, Tulle is a very fine net fabric made by tricot method of construction. The holes have a hexagonal shape and are very small in size. Tulle & illusion are lightweight nettings made with finer yarns and small hole sizes. Tulle fabric has a very low denier, and this makes it very fine and soft than any other netting fabric. The best tulle is made with silk fibres. It is the best fabric for making overskirts, ruffles and trims and evening dresses. An illusion net is used for bridal veils

Bobbinet This is a net fabric made in England/France. This net was first developed by John Heathcoat in Nottingham, England in 1808. It is usually a very thin net fabric that is made like a lace but when it is made with cotton yarn the bobbinet fabric is a little heavier. The holes are hexagonal in shape and hence very distinctive. The fabric though very fine is quite strong. Good quality bobbinet fabric is quite expensive.

Fishnet This is a slightly coarse netting. It is made by knotting yarn similar to a fisherman’s knot. It is made of polyester or nylon yarn and usually has a little bit of elastane fibres added in for stretchiness. It is used to make hosiery, bodysuits, body stockings and other clothing.

Maline Net fabric with diamond-shaped holes. The fabric is very fine organza

French Net This is a coarse net with large six-sided (diamond shaped)  holes. This open mesh fabric is used to make Birdcage veils.

Russian Netting This is similar to french net but with even larger holes. English Merry Widow is a similar netting.

Crinoline This is Nylon or polyester filament net and is used to make underskirts (Petticoat) with lots of ruffles that will give a full skirt silhouette to the gowns on top. They are usually designed in tiered layers with lots of gathers to give a voluminous look

Point d’esprit This is a  special type of netting fabric with dots embroidered or flocks printed to the netting surface. It is used in millinery veil designs.

Fence Net This net fabric is used mostly to make hosiery (stockings) and has spandex added to it to make it stretchy. Usually has large holes.

Industrial Net fabric with holes larger than that of regular fishnet and smaller than fence net – the strands are thick.

English Net This is a tulle fabric which is made of cotton fibres. The netting holes are fine, but the fabric is stronger than other tulle fabrics.

organdie – Organdie is a balanced plain weave. Because of its stiffness and fibre content, it is very prone to wrinkling. Organza is the filament yarn counterpart to organdie. Its sheerness and crispness are the result of an acid finish on greige (unbleached or grey/beige) lawn goods.

It comes in three types of finishes: “Stiff” is most used, but “semi-stiff” and “soft” finishes are also available. The latter two finishes are more popular for summer wear and draped apparel whereas the first is more popular for loose apparel and home textiles such as dresses and curtains.

organza – Organza is a thin, plain weave, sheer fabric traditionally made from silk. Many modern organza’s are woven with synthetic filament fibres such as polyester or nylon. Silk organza is woven by several mills along the Yangtze River and in the province of Zhejiang in China. A coarser silk organza is woven in the Bangalore area of India. Deluxe silk organza’s are woven in France and Italy.

Organza is used for bridalwear and eveningwear. In the interiors market it is used for effects in bedrooms and between rooms. Double width organzas in viscose and acetate are used as sheer curtains.

The term may derive from French organsin, ultimately from the Central Asian city of Urgench, the midpoint of the Northern Silk Road

Water soluble – Made from water-soluble fibres, water-soluble stabilizer is designed to dissolve in water after it’s served its purpose as either a topping or stabilizer backing for your embroidery project. 

There are two main types of water-soluble stabilizers: film-like and fibrous paper-like. Each has slightly different properties and can play a different part in creating the perfect project. Wash-away backing types include the fibrous fabric type and heavy film-like water-soluble stabilizer (ex: Sulky Ultra Solvy).

To use this as a stabilizer, first, select the stabilizer weight and also the number of layers needed based on the characteristics of your fabric and the density of your embroidery design. (Read more in embroidery stabilizer guide.)

Wash-away stabilizer can be hooped behind the fabric that’s going to be machine embroidered. Or, the fabric can be floated on top of just hooped wash-away. And, in some cases, you can hoop just wash-away stabilizer and then embroider on top of it. This is the case when embroidering free-standing lace or making patches.  Be warned check you pen you drew on it with for solubility and the threads / fabric. We have seen some wrecked pieces when the colour runs.

Stitch and tear – Tear-away stabilizers are temporary stabilizers that are easily removed once you have stitched out an embroidery design. This is most likely what you will use when embroidering on towels, scarves, and regular woven fabrics. They prevent an embroidery design from tunnelling, distorting and puckering while the design is being stitched out but since they are torn away once the design is sewn on, they do not give the on-going support like cut-away stabilizers do. Tear-away stabilizers like Sulky Tear-Easy™ are great, because although you sometimes only need one layer, you can use several layers (and you can even float one or two layers under the hoop “just in case”) and then tear them away individually so you don’t have to worry about your design getting messed up while pulling off a heavier stabilizer. My only issue with stitch and tear is you can spend hours with tweezers on edges if it hasn’t pulled away well

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