i frequently receive questions about my use of backing fabric and also about stabilizers. so if you're wondering what in the world i'm talking about (you're not alone!) and maybe this will help.
(note: this is my preferred method, but it is by no means the only method, and it may not even be the "right" method... this is what i have found to be my favorite method.)
so: i like to back my embroidery projects with a second layer of fabric. this simply means that instead of one single piece of fabric in my embroidery hoop, i use two pieces. i use a very thin cotton muslin (you want to use a loose weave fabric for this, otherwise it will make it harder to get your needle and floss through) and all i do is layer the muslin and main fabric. muslin on the bottom, main fabric on top, and put them both in the hoop together. that's it! nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just two layers of fabric.
the reason i do this is because i like having a little extra stability and support for my stitching. it also helps with opacity -- it keeps the backside of your stitching (the hoop guts) from showing through on the front.
this is typically the only thing i use that is solely for stabilizing. there are plenty of other types of stabilizers on the market. with all of them, you adhere it to your fabric (either by hooping it together, some have a sticky back, some can be sewn/pinned in place) and then you'll stitch through both layers. when you are done stitching, some types of stabilizers can be removed or washed away, and some of them will stay in place, it just depends on which type you use. and whether you want it to stay in place depends on what you plan to do with your finished piece of embroidery.
now, for pattern transfer purposes, this water-soluble sticky back stabilizer is my absolute favorite. you can run it through your home printer and print your pattern directly onto it, or you can draw on it like you would a piece of paper. once you have your design on it, peel the sticky back off and stick it on your fabric, and stitch through both layers. when you are done, you can soak it in water and the stabilizer washes away, leaving only your stitching and your fabric. it's a super great way to transfer patterns onto dark fabric and it's also great for patterns that have a lot of intricate line details. save yourself the trouble of transferring the lines by hand and just print it right onto your stabilizer and start stitching.
be sure to check out other cozyblue stitching tips & tricks!