homemade paper stabilizer (Full Version)

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Linda S. -> homemade paper stabilizer (3/28/2013 12:26:05 PM)

Last night I had to make a bit of homemade starch (ran out of spray starch) and as I was wiping up my mess with paper towels, the thought occured to me to soak the paper towel in the extra starch mixture instead of tossing it. After letting the paper towels dry (tried several kinds), I pressed them flat with my iron (and steam).

This morning I tried out my homemade stabilizer sheets and they really do work great! The paper is very stiff but tears away easily and cleanly. For my practice piece I used black batiste and blue thread so I could see how much paper I'd have to pick out later...and to my surprise, nothing was left behind : ) No paper bits to pick out later.

Don't know if I'll make a habit of making my own stabilizer, but the stuff I made seemed to work well.

Bunnypep -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (3/29/2013 6:11:32 AM)

I think this is brilliant. Thanks for the great tip.

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (3/29/2013 11:23:06 AM)

Thank you Bunny. One would need to use the homemade starch recipe or something similar to make these stabilizer sheets, to get it stiff enough. Today I got some regular spray starch and tried applying several coats to the paper towel, to see what happened. I think that method would take too long (couldn't get it stiff enough with 4 coats) and the towel wants to shrink up and wrinkle badly...just a mess and not worth the effort.

FYI, when I make my cornstarch starch, I always make it thicker than what it needs to be. Then I thin it out to the right consistancy, and it was the thick stuff that I used for my stabilzer sheets (reminds me of old fashioned wallpaper paste!).

For anyone who is interested, you can make your own cornstarch starch by cooking cornstarch and water to boiling for a few minutes and becomes more clear (just like making gravey or sauce). A thick starch can be used as a paint-on stabilizer and when thinned down with water it will work out of a spray bottle. Use a wisk and it will be very smooth : )

NormaK -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (3/30/2013 8:30:04 AM)

Thank you, Linda. Do you have any specific quantity/ration suggestions or do you just "wing it"? [:)]

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (3/30/2013 11:10:35 AM)

Norma, I usually wing it because I've done this so many times. But here is a recipe I found on the internet: (this is for light starch that one can put in a spray bottle) Boil 3 3/4 cup of water. Meanwhile, mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water and mix well. Add starch and cold water mixture to boiling water. Cook for 1 minute, boiling slightly. Let cool and put in spray bottle. Can add fragrance.

I generally put about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a pan (like one would use to make sauce), and wisk in about a cup of water. As it begins to thicken, I can add more water (and I always do) until I get it the consistancy I'm looking for (keep stiring to keep it smooth). If you want to use this for a very stiff stabilizer, then you'll want to leave it on the thick side.....or, if you want it to come out of a spray bottle you'll need to thin it down so it comes out the bottle spray tip.

Think of this as if you are making white sauce, and how you would want it cooked well enough for that. This mixture thickens as it cools. I'd suggest you just have a go at it...it's really easy to do. You'll soon figure out what consistancy works best for different situations. Shirley suggested adding a couple drops of rubbing alcohol to make it last longer....good tip! Otherwise, store extra in the refrigerator.

delmarva -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/21/2013 10:50:35 AM)

Linda, you said you tried several types of paper towels. Which worked best in your opinion?

KathyD -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/21/2013 4:20:29 PM)

I would be wary of using this. Years ago we were told to use adding machine tape behind buttonholes, decorative embroidery, etc. This was before embroidery machines and the huge choices of stabilizers. Well after years of having my stitch samples "age" in their notebooks, the paper behind the buttonholes has yellowed badly. I wouldn't want to use paper products behind anything that you plan to have saved for more than a couple years. Just a thought. [:)]

Bluebonnets -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/21/2013 5:48:25 PM)

Personally, I spend a lot of time keeping my bobbin housing clean and unless I am using good quality stabilizer and threads, I've noticed there is a tremendous amount of dust and dust bunnies that collect there which quickly gum up tensions. Just stitching on flannels and some fabrics raises enough concerns, I would hate to think what it might do to your bobbin housings and casings over time if you are making your own starched stabilizer.

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/23/2013 9:17:56 AM)

Kathy, Thanks for this tip. I probably won't use this stabilizer for anything other than to stabilize for pinstitching...and now that you've shared what happened about the paper yellowing, I won't be using it for machine embroidery.

Bluebonnets, I've used industrial type paper towels for stabilizer and it works fine all by itself for light fabrics....I like how it tears away. But for the cornstarch/paper stabilizer I used regular ones like we use at home (Bounty at the moment). These tear away the easiest and didn't leave any paper behind. The fact that there was nothing left behind surprised me the most.

I was prompt in sharing my great discovery and haven't used this homemade paper stabilizer for very long. So far no drawbacks that I can think of and it's a good alternative to the expensive paper kind I've purchased. It's a habit of mine to look at everything in terms of sewing ; ).

Chere -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/23/2013 10:30:49 AM)

I love the idea of making the homemade thicken starch; sometimes I want something really, really stiff and the canned/bottled stuff takes too many applications.  I could just paint this starch onto my fabric and be good to go.  Thank you so much for sharing how you do this.

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/23/2013 3:30:42 PM)

Chere, You're very welcome. I like this starch and as you said one can make it to be however stiff it needs to be. If it is too concentrated it clumps and is hard to work with but a little experimentation it's not hard to figure out.

The thicker mixtures do tend to clump with time in the frig., but using a wisk and a little water it becomes smooth again. I think I've re-heated it too, to get lumps out of some I've stored in the refrigerator. Shirley suggests adding a couple drops of rubbing alcohol to make it last longer...don't know if it would need to be refrigerated for long storage with the alcohol or not. I generally just make what I need for the project I'm doing....it's so easy to make : ).

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/23/2013 3:40:05 PM)

This discussion reminds me of a tip from Threads Magazine that Bunny shared here a while back. http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/27608/firming-up-fabrics-with-gelatine/page/all

Gelatin (the kind we use in cooking recipes) acts as a stabilizer for fine, slippery squirmy fabric making it much easier to manage. Of course one can only use this for fabric that can be put in water but that includes many fabrics. I thought this was a great tip from the kitchen cupboard for our sewing rooms!

Chere -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (4/23/2013 4:46:50 PM)

I'm always up for ideas that will help me master any sewing problems I have.  I hate working with slippery fabric so the gelatin might be a good thing to remember.

SewLynn -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (5/5/2013 12:57:23 PM)

Perhaps ideas for when I retire ... for the time being, while working FT in a non-related industry, I am very thankful for the products offered these days that give me more free time to sew and embroider!!

Froggy -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (10/5/2018 1:04:54 PM)

I used some tissue paper used in wrapping presents. It worked great and very easily taken off.

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (10/5/2018 8:35:29 PM)

Welcome to the forum Froggy! Years ago tissue paper was used a lot for stabilizer when
doing fancy stitching, like pinstitching.

Have you tried using newsprint paper? I buy it in tablets at the dollar store, meant for
children's scribble books and I LOVE the stuff. Cut in strips I always have some sitting
by my machine to stabilize straight stitching. Newsprint tears away cleaner than anything
I've tried yet for this kind of stabilizing. Other ways to do it, but like when we begin
stitching it keeps fabric from being pulled down under the needle plate. Or for example
if I'm stay stitching by machine on a single layer and want my stitches nice and even

When we need to use a zig-gag or I guess any stitch that isn't just straight, then
any paper won't want to tear away completely....with no bits left behind.

Nananeva -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (10/17/2018 1:33:56 PM)

Paper or tearaway works well with straight stitching. I tried several different tearaway stabilizers when doing lace insertion, to hold the thin fabric during pinstitching. They stressed the stitching too much, and left tiny pieces of paper behind. I used the tissue paper also. It wasn't much different! [8|][8|] What a mess! The best way - by far - was washaway stabilizer. Since I was using a water soluble marker pen, a simple rinse in warm water erased both.

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (10/17/2018 7:52:08 PM)


I agree...something different is called for, for pinstitching. I like making the fabric
stiff as a board with my homemade cornstarch recipe or some other stiffner.

The homemade paper stabilizer or newsprint only works well when no zig-zag or
side to side stitching is involved...like for seams or straight stitching in garments.
Newsprint tears away very well (I should add, all newsprint is not created equal ; ),
and so does my starched paper towels. I keep some by my machine at all times
and use it often. For starting a line of straight stitches is one good spot to use it.

Cooki3z -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (12/4/2018 8:46:54 PM)

yeah, I've seen people using tissue paper for that. amyway, that's a nice idea

Linda S. -> RE: homemade paper stabilizer (1/7/2019 5:00:38 PM)

Neva, I don't like the bits left behind or ones that pull the stitches either. But
newsprint paper doesn't do that. It's one of my all-time great discoveries!

I get blank paper children's scribble tablets at the dollar store, and look for ones
that are newsprint paper. I think most of the inexpensive ones are newsprint
since other papers are more expensive. It's surprising how well it pulls away,
leaving few to no bits behind. No clue why.

Now I have a favorite kind of newsprint paper...but they're all better than any other
paper I've tried, even expensive ones. It has to be cut in strips of course, but
I do that and have strips sitting by my machine at all times. It's surprising how
often those come in handy, like at the beginning of a seam.

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