Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

tissue paper stabilizer

Josefly | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Just got around to reading Threads-E-Letter #24 (Feb. 15th) and Kenneth King’s article, “Sheer Seams and Edges”. He says to use tissue paper stabilizer when stay-stitching seam lines in sheer fabrics, using paper as near as possible to the color of the thread being used. Is this a notion available in fabric stores, does anyone know?


  1. jjgg | | #1

    No, You find tissue paper in the card shop with gift wrapping paper!

    1. Josefly | | #2

      Good, thanks. I just knew I'd never seen it in any notions dept! Have you used it, then?

      1. starzoe | | #3

        I haven't seen the article you spoke about, but usually tissue paper is used to stabilize stitches and is ripped out afterwards. Personally, it is not a technique I use, having found it difficult and tedious to remove the tiny bits of paper from the delicate fabric.

      2. jjgg | | #4

        I've used tissue paper many times when sewing sheer fabrics, the stuff I have right now is really great coz it tears off so nicely

        1. Josefly | | #5

          Have you had the same difficulty starzoe mentioned, removing the bits of paper? Kenneth King is only talking about using the paper for straight-stitching, as in stay-stitching, and he just says to gently tear it away from the seam.Do you use his method of seaming with the sheer fabrics, explicitly, overlapping the seam lines (after having first stay-stitched the seam lines), then folding first one seam allowance back over the seam and stitching 1/16 inch away from the original seam line, then the other seam allowance back over the other way and stitching again 1/16th inch away, and then satin-stitching narrowly over all the seams before trimming? It sounds like a lot of stitching, but looks like a beautiful finish. It made me wonder if sheer fabric could take that much stitching so close together.

          Edited 3/4/2008 1:06 pm ET by Josefly

          1. jjgg | | #6

            I use many different ways of sewing shear fabrics. It all depends on what the end result is that I want. When I worked at the Ballet, they showed me several techniques that I hadn't seen used before. But, getting to your question, I actually just did use Kenneth Kings method as shown in that article. I was making a shrug out of organza. It's a gray blue, I used white tissue paper (didn't have blue) The paper stayed under the seam when I did the zig zag over the rows of straight stitching, but it doesn't show.I did the edge that he shows in the article, but I used a different stitch - I used the 'buttonhole' stitch that repeats itself 2 or 3 times - it gave it sort of a picot edge, really very nice, it doesn't pull off the edge of the organza.I'm attaching pictures of the edging, and the satin stitchThese pictures were taken with the macro feature, so they are really close up

            Edited 3/4/2008 4:47 pm ET by jjgg

          2. solosmocker | | #7

            dontcha just love that macro feature. I use it a lot too. Your picot edge treatment is wonderful. I have used tissue paper also to stabilize. A great resource is the dollar store, inexpensive and lots of colors. I was faced last fall with a need for a dark brown or black tissue paper and found it in the Halloween goodies at Joanns. I tell you, that black tissue has really come in handy. solo

          3. jjgg | | #8

            Thanks for the heads up on the tissue paper source, I will go check it out

          4. Josefly | | #9

            That edging is beautiful, and the satin-stitch, also. Did you use satin-stitch over cord, or is that just over the other stitching lines? Your work is beautiful.And yes, I love the macro setting on my camera, too. Amazing what we can do now that wasn't very easy for an amateur photographer just a few years ago.Thanks for the photos, and sharing your experience. I'm going to try it on some voile, which may be way too soft for this kind of seaming, I don't know.Solosmocker, thanks for the tip on the tissuepaper source. Good idea.

          5. jjgg | | #10

            The satin stitch is not over cord. Just the other 3 rows of straight stitching.The edge stitch is done over a perle cotton.

          6. Josefly | | #11

            Thank you again. I'm making notes.

          7. Pattiann42 | | #12

            Instead of using tissue paper, try H2O Gone, wash away stabilizer.  It is as thin as tissue, and just as easy to handle.  Trim away the excess and then submerge stitched area in warm water to dissolve. 

            Edited 3/13/2008 12:57 pm ET by spicegirl1

          8. Josefly | | #15

            Thank you. I will keep that stabilizer in mind. I've tried the Sulky version of water-soluble. Are they the same? Kenneth King was stay-stitching ALL seam lines on sheer fabric -- before the fabric was cut-- so I guess the tissue was used instead of a water-soluble to avoid having to wet the entire piece of fabric, or perhaps the fabric wasn't washable, or perhaps the large amount of stabilizer required is much cheaper if it's tissue paper - not really sure what the reason was.

          9. Pattiann42 | | #17

            H2O Gone is more like tissue and the Sulky is more like plastic in texture.

          10. Josefly | | #19

            Thank you for that info - so does the tissue-like H2O Gone tear off more easily than the Solvy?

          11. PASDENOM | | #46

            I haven't read the article yet and am wondering why he suggests matching the color. Seems to make more sense to use a contrasting color so you can see your stitches better and see the shreds of paper to remove them. I'd avoid anything with dyes and use white. Sometimes I get unbleached, natural wood color tissue with mail order clothes and I save that for white fabrics.

          12. designsbysue | | #21

            That's what I use as well - it works wonderfully.

          13. jjgg | | #22

            My new take on the tissue paper...
            my customer didn't like the picot edge that I put on the organza shrug and wanted a satin stitch edge (yikes) to match the satin stitch on the seams. I used 2 layer of Sulky heat-a-way stabilizer. I can't wet the organza, and I have other other heat-a-way stabilizers, but they are the plastic kind that melt away, they sort of shrink up as they melt, and I didn't want it to crinkle the organza. The sulky heat-a-way was great, since the silk can take high heat. I did a straight stitch along the edge, folded back along that line, and straight stitched it again at the fold. I did use tissue paper for this. Then I put the sulky stuff under it and did a satin stitch over the edge. It came out fabulously.

          14. Josefly | | #23

            Beautiful edge. I liked the picot edge, though. Did you just cut the edge off, or did you have to start all over? I'm going to remember the Sulky heat-away.

          15. jjgg | | #24

            I actually cut the whole thing apart and re-did it. one of the arms had twisted - a result of bias edges and sewing the seam flat like KK shoe=wed in the article. I sewed the seams normally - just easier to do in the curve of the underarm, pressed the seam to one side and top stitched it down. I had much better control of the bias edges that way., but to answer the question, Yes, I cut off the edge and re-did it. Since the take up was such a small amount, it didn't affect the fit at all. The picot edge was nice, but I also thing the satin stitch edge was much more elegant.

          16. Josefly | | #25

            Oh, it sounds just beautiful. And how nice that you had the room to cut off those seams and make new ones, without making it too snug. I'm so glad to learn about these techniques. Thank you.Are you still planning a move to Asheville. I'd sure like to know when you offer classes there.

          17. jjgg | | #26

            One more thing about sewing organza. The feed dogs will mar the surface of the organza, so I used 4 layers of tissue paper for the seams, that protected the organza. One layer didn't do the job.Yes, I'm moving July 7th (or thereabouts anyway). But I've got to get settled in and find a place to teach. I also really need to do an assessment of need to see if there is a need for a sewing school in the area. I'm not really sure how to go about doing that. I haven't been able to find too many classes on line in the area. and nothing like what I teach. I have a whole repertoire of classes that I teach.I'll let you know when I'm there.

          18. Josefly | | #27

            Asheville, from what I've seen, is definitely an artists- and craftsmen-plentiful town. I hope you'll enjoy living there. I think one way of scoping out the school situation is to check with county extension services to see what kinds of sewing/designing/fitting classes and schools are offered. I'll bet you'll be a welcome addition.

          19. Palady | | #28

            Quality wax paper works well as a stabilizer.

            Sometimes just on the under side - which would cover the feed dogs.

            Or sandwiched, so the wax paper also goes under the presser foot.

            Just use a quality product.  Any bought in a Dollar type store is troublesome.

            I've kept a box at hand since learning to sew from my Mom back in the 1940's.  She used it when she felt it was necessary.


          20. jjgg | | #29

            That reminds me that I do have a box of parchment paper in my sewing room for the same purpose!

          21. Palady | | #30

            Guess I use wax paper because parchment paper was less available  back when I ventured into the sewing world.

            I've heard it said people avoid using the wax paper because it dulls needles.  I have yet to experience the happening.

            Have you with the parchment?


          22. jjgg | | #31

            I have a funny story about waxed paper. When I was very little (maybe 5 or 6 yo) I took a piece of waxed paper and started sewing on my mothers sewing machine - no thread, I was just having fun poking holes in the paper and making designs. My mother had a fit! So I always thought it was really really bad to sew on paper. When I got into design school some years ago, in the basic sewing class, you are given a piece of paper with different designs - concentric circles, squares etc on it that you have to 'sew' over to learn to control the machine. (Industrial sewing machine).To this day I don't know what was wrong with what I did as a kid, it sure was fun! and boy did it leave an impression on me! It was just so much fun!

          23. Josefly | | #32

            Neat story. It's great that it didn't put you off sewing forever.What a great way to generate creativity, though. My 6-yr old grandson loves to sew on my machine. I put it on bench, and him on a footstool, so he can reach the foot pedal and the machine at the same time. He loves it. Last time he visited me we marked out a "spiral square" on a piece of cloth for him to sew around. He did a remarkable job staying on the lines and turning the corners. Then he did a zig-zag border around the edge, using a scallop cam on the machine, and sewed another square of fabric to it, and we stuffed it for a pillow - about the size of a "fairy tooth" pillow - in fact I wish I'd thought of putting a tooth pocket on it for him. He loved it!Next time I think I'll put out paper for him to sew on - maybe some colored construction paper. He said last time, "It's like ART, Granmama." Ta-da!

            Edited 3/16/2008 6:09 pm ET by Josefly

          24. Palady | | #34

            Kudos on your sewing time with your 6 yr old grandson!  Especially with his associating the doing as "art."  Because it truly is an art form.

            His hand eye coordination is exemplary.  I have long realized there are windows in a child's growing years.  An astute family member who can recognize the opening and follow up on it gives the child a nuturing that will last a lifetime.  It will also give the child an inner awareness of their self.  Important feeling.  MO.

            Children tell us adults when they're ready to learn in many ways.  We need to be attuned.

            I hope the "pillow" becoems a treasure.  Please keep us posted on on his progress.


          25. Palady | | #36

            Josefly's grandson post brought to mind my granddaughter's story.

            My daughter has fraternal twin girls who made certain, even as toddler's, to get into their mother's sewing room every chance they could.  Mom was certain to keep the door closed when she was absent from the room.

            I'm a proponent of keeping an inexpensive roll of packaging tape at hand to use to pick up loose threads.  Off myself and whatever surfaces.  Doing some child minding, the girls were restless.  Idea!  We went into the sewing room and I gave them each strips of the tape and demonstrated how to use it.  Once full from dabbing all over the carpet, they'd crumple up their piece and toss it in the garabage bag brought in as well.   Then come to me for another strip.  It was a very postive doing.

            While they dabbed, I gathered up stray whatever.  Coming upon a piece of wood about 8" long with red lines drawn on it, I said to myself, but aloud, "I guess I can toss this." 

            IMMEDIATELY one of the girls said - "Oh no - that's my measure stick!"  Explanation followed my inquiry.  "Mommy said I can't use her long stick because I might break it by accident and I could hurt myself.  So when I was in the garage with Daddy I found my own stick and put my marks on it to make my own."  Looking more closely I saw there were indeed long lines and short lines in red.  Irregular true, but in a sequence.  I also realized the stick was a shim.

            After thanking my grandaughter for her very understandable reason for keeping it, I complimented her on her effort, and we chose a "safe" place to keep it. 

            Later in my visit I had need for a ruler and again to myself but aloud said so.  Granddaughter chimed up and said "you can use my measure stick" and off she went to get it.  Of course I used it.

            The girls turned 11 Dec 2007.  We did the sewing room "cleaning" when they 3 or 4 yrs old.    Their Mom still has the "measure stick" with her sewing rulers.  Though granddaughter has grown into using "official" rulers.   I asked my daughter to be sure and keep it.

            And yes, the sewing room is still a draw for them.  Invariably one, the other, or both will wend their way there with or without Mom being there.  They're very responsible and understand being there will continue as long a they follow Mom's guidelines for what they can do and avoid anything she has restricted. 

            So far it's mostly cutting "our" fabric from the bin Mom has for them.  They either glue it, tie it, or use the hand needle designated for their use.  Mom was gifted, from Dad, with a new computer system for the area.  This one is on a desk which the girls can now reach.  It's become a draw for them.



          26. Josefly | | #37

            I agree with you about the "window" for learning. Kids can be encouraged in so many ways. Your granddaughters have grown up with access to the materials and technology, and it will be fun to see how they use their experience later on. We're often unaware of what they're picking up and what their capabilities are.

          27. jjgg | | #38

            My niece was once looking for the "garden" stick Yards; gardens; not too much of a difference.Once I was looking for a Mobile gas station (I knew it was somewhere along the highway) and my son (about 12 yo) wanted to know if it moved from place to place!!

          28. Ralphetta | | #39

            I'm laughing at the garden stick and know that I will forever think of that when I mention yard stick. My daughter told me one time when she was about 3 that she'd hurt her knee-pit. I thought it was a pretty good description of that back side of your knee. My cousin's 3 year old was explaining to her younger sister while they were bathing that her navel was where her utility cord used to be.

          29. Josefly | | #41

            What a wonderful thing to wake up and get a good laugh first thing in the morning. Knee pits and utility cords.

          30. jjgg | | #42

            Aren't children wonderful. I love the 'utility cord'. Thanks for the story.

          31. Palady | | #44

            Thanks for posting.  The read reaffirms my joy of children!


            ETA - I sure hope everyone with a "child smile thought" is jotting them down for future reading.  A My Documents Folder is very workable.  We have pictures for our families, so conversational gems follow. 

            Me again

            Edited 3/17/2008 12:42 pm ET by Palady

          32. Josefly | | #40

            Too funny, I'm still giggling about the moving Mobil Station.

          33. Palady | | #43

            >> ... "garden" stick  Yards; gardens; ... <<

            DELIGHTFUL!   How old was (is) your niece?

            Gem of thought from your near 12 yr old son on the Mobile Station.

            Children are such a joy.  Seeing the world through their eyes is enlightening.  Listening to their view of it has great merit.


          34. Palady | | #33

            Your wax paper memory with your Mom brought me a smile.  Thank you for the post.  Dare say most adults can recall causing a parent to go ballistic, but w/o really understanding why!  I can safely say - BTDT.

            The irony is your using "paper" in Design School.  Almost makes you want to say to  Mom - So there!

            I suspect even your Mom would be unable to say specifically why she objected so strongly.  Perhaps it has to do with the saying - Never let your mother brush your hair when she's mad at your father. 



          35. Ralphetta | | #35

            I'm guessing that your mother believed that sewing on paper was harmful to her machine. I remember that for my birthday when I was 7 my mother enclosed "coupons" in my card. She made rows of perforations by sewing w/o thread and wrote in the little boxes GOOD FOR ONE HOUR ON SEWING MACHINE. I was as excited by the fact that she could actually make coupons as I was at getting to use the machine!

    2. User avater
      dayenu | | #13

      colored tissue from the wrapping paper section runs... very very much...so make sure of color matches.

  2. MaryinColorado | | #14

    I bought some tissue type stabilizer at my Husq/Viking dealers.  Perhaps a sewing machine dealer near you will have it.  I cannot remember the name, but comes in a 3" or 8" width on a cardboard roll and is for Heirloom sewing.  Mary

    1. Josefly | | #16

      Thank you, Mary. I'll keep that in mind. I wondered as I was reading the KK article, if only strips of tissue are used under the seam lines, or if whole pattern pieces were stay-stitched using the same piece of tissue. I followed solosmocker's suggestion, and went to our nearest Big Lots store, and was able to get lots of colors of tissue very inexpensively. I'm hopeless - now I'm stashing tissue paper!

      1. MaryinColorado | | #18

        I have a small amount in a drawer, all white, I use it as a pressing sheet sometimes too.  Be careful not to use steam or water near the colored paper, it might bleed!  Mary

        1. Josefly | | #20

          Good tip, thanks.

  3. Cityoflostsouls | | #45

    I'm way before the age of stabilizers and everyone used tissue paper for any kind of free embroidery or sheers.  I once made 3 tiered ruffled curtains for my little girls room.  Made from a big stash of white sheets and each ruffle was edged with a machine embroidered satin stitch (scallops).  4 windows.  Hours of time , spools and spools of pink thread, tissue paper and more tissue paper and before the days of machine embroidery thread.  They were adorable for my 4 year old.  My first daughter. my first house and my brand new Necchi sewing machine.  It could do whatever the new machines can do just took more skill.  Designs and flowers and leaves and alphabets.  You can still do it-it requires a dropped feed or cover plate and a satin stitch.  I made a great little poodle skirt out of black felt complete with the poodle.  Now I have all the new equipment but I'm not sure it's as satisfying.  For instructions you can usually find very old sewing books at the yard sales or auctions.  The old Singer books tell you how.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All