As the name suggests, water soluble topping should be removed by using water. But is it really that easy?

solvy stabilizer

It certainly is! But the tricky part is how to remove it from those hard to reach spaces or small holes in your lettering or designs. Continue reading to find out our cheap, easy secret to remove water soluble topping from those hard to get places.

What Is Water Soluble Embroidery Stabilizer Topping or Solvy?

If you have some embroidery experience, you know how important it is to include a stabilizer when stitching your embroidery designs. Different stabilizers have different uses. Check out our Complete Guide to Machine Embroidery Stabilizers by clicking here. You’ve most likely heard of water soluble topping, also known by its trade name “solvy.” If you don’t know what water soluble toppings is, you’re going to want to add it to your embroidery stash! 

Water soluble topping is a must in quality embroidery!

solvy roll

Water soluble embroidery stabilizer topping (or WST for short) is put on anything with a high nap (thicker fabrics), including terry cloth, golf shirts, fleece, and other textured materials. Want to learn more about fabric categories and how and when to use them? Click here to learn about The 3 Main Fabrics Used In Machine Embroidery. These fabric textures have different hills and valleys, affecting the way embroidery stitches into them. Without using WST, it can be hard for your embroidery thread to penetrate the fabric properly and can result in a poorly embroidered object. When you use WST on your project, it allows the stitches to stay on the top of the fabric fibers. This brings density to those grooves, giving your embroidery a full look while also keeping clean lines in your satin stitches. 

Water soluble embroidery stabilizer topping creates clear embroidery by creating a smooth embroidery surface. Water soluble toppings do not sink into fabric, giving your embroidery definition and better detail.

solvy dissolved by water

Water soluble topping can also be used for projects like freestanding lace where you only want embroidery to be shown. However, with FSL you do not need to hoop any fabric or other stabilizers to assist with your embroidery. To check out our vintage lace embroidery designs, click here.

lace embroidery

Please note: Once you’ve opened your water soluble topping, we recommend keeping it in a ziplock bag or airtight container to keep heat and dampness away. As the name suggests, water soluble topping can dissolve once in contact with water, and with a small trace, it can cause the WST to shrivel up and become brittle. Just a friendly remember to store it accordingly.

How Do You Use Water Soluble Topping For Embroidery?

Water soluble toppings are used as a topping. 

After hooping your stabilizer and fabric, the WST is floated above your hooped garments and before you embroider any embroidery designs.

To begin using your WST, you must properly hoop your stabilizer and material. Need help with your hooping? Check out our Hooping Tips and Tricks by clicking here. After you’ve completed hooping, float a piece of water soluble topping on top of the hooped garment. You can choose to leave it freely resting on top or pin or tape it in place. But remember, the WST is light and can get bunched under the needle when the machine is running. Once your WST is in place, sew out your desired design. After you’ve finished stitching onto your garment, you must remove the water soluble topping. When removing it, it tears very easily, and all the spaces inside of little areas of lettering or objects tend to get trapped inside of them. 

Embroidery Stabilizer Toppings on fabric

How To Remove Water Soluble Embroidery Stabilizer

You’ve tried everything… tweezers, sponges, using your fingers, even rinsing your object under a running tap after you’ve finished stitching. You’ve probably thought there must be an easier way.

There is! I’m here to show you a secret my family and I have used for many years. 

More of a visual learner? I’ve got you covered. Watch the Youtube tutorial here.

What you’ll need:

Twenty-seven years ago, during the factory days of my families’ business, we used water soluble topping quite frequently. As we would run thousands of golf shirts daily, using water soluble toppings was a must. Water soluble toppings tears away extremely easily, but because it’s sticky, it tends to get stuck in the inside of letters/holes in embroidery (especially in O’s, A’s, P’s, etc). Production time equaled money, so we needed the quickest and easiest way to remove water soluble toppings.

This is what my family came up with; you’ll need:

  • A bowl of water
  • Water soluble topping (leftover scraps work great)
  • A tennis ball

… Yes, you did read that right, you will need a tennis ball.

Removing water soluble embroidery stabilizer

You may be asking yourself, “why on earth would I need a tennis ball to remove water soluble toppings?”, the answer is quite simple. 

The best way to get rid of solvy is solvy!

Next time you use any water soluble topping, make sure you keep the excess topping after you’ve torn it off your embroidery. 

Wet your cheap tennis ball in your bowl of water. You want it to be damp, not soaking, so you may have to squeeze out some of the water. Begin to wrap your damp tennis ball with your leftover solvy pieces. Eventually, you will have a solvy covered ball. Once it dries, it will have a nice hard surface, acting as a cocoon around the ball.

tennis ball with solvy

To get rid of the water soluble topping stuck in your embroidered design, simply wet your fingers with water and begin rubbing an area of your solvy-ball until it becomes wet and tacky. Then tap it on the water soluble topping you wish to remove, and it should come right off!

It’s as easy as that! The best way to remove solvy is solvy!  Working like a magnet, it attracts to itself and lifts the topping off instantly!

removing water soluble topping with solvy tennis ball

Conclusion: Use A Tennis Ball To Remove Water Soluble Topping

Hopefully this tutorial has helped you better understand a bit more about water soluble toppings and when to use it. We’ve demonstrated how to use it in the most effective (and did we mention budget-friendly) way to remove any small and hard to reach pieces left behind. Next time you’re out, be sure to grab a cheap tennis ball as you never know when you’ll need it for your next embroidery project.

Remember to have fun learning this new embroidery technique. Try it on a design now!

P.S. Browse through our giant collection of machine-friendly embroidery designs for more project inspiration! Plus, check out our Embroidery Legacy Design Club to learn how to save on our entire database of close to 30,000 quality designs. Or if you’ve never tried our designs before, click here to download our Free Embroidery Legacy Design Kit.