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You’re Throwing Away Free Applique Stabilizer!

Laundry day can be a chance to add to your quilting supplies for free…here’s how.

Used dryer sheets make great stabilizers for machine applique. Here are four good reasons to put them to work in your projects:

  • They are non-woven, just like stabilizer you buy

  • You’ve already paid for them!

  • You’ve got a steady supply of them

  • It’s a great way to recycle something you’d otherwise throw away

Just wash that used dryer sheet and give it a quick press with a medium iron and it’s all ready for its second career.

As you’ll see below in the Readers’ Comments section, however, there are some concerns about chemicals left behind in used dryer sheets. So while this tip might be great for quick, fun projects, you should think twice about using it in a project you hope will be passed down from generation to generation.

Readers’ Comments:

Betty writes:

“I have frequently heard this tip, and decided to try it. It works as a soft stabilizer, but I found it very difficult to remove after the sewing was done. It does not tear away smoothly like tear-away stabilizer does. If there is a way to make it tear off without pulling the seams or fabric, I haven’t found it!”

Sharon Darling responds:

“If you are making a wall hanging, you could leave the stabilizer in. The extra fine layer wouldn’t add much bulk as long as you didn’t want to hand quilt in that area.

“If you want to use it in a bed cover or want to hand quilt that area, you would probably want to remove it. I use my pelican-bill applique scissors to cut away the stabilizer close to the stitching.”

Janet N. writes:

“My local quilt shop owner has advised me to never use fabric softener on the cottons I use for
, because fabric softener breaks down the cotton fibres. For the same reason, she recommends against using fabric softener sheets as thread conditioner for hand sewing.

“It would seem to me that used dryer sheets still retain a lot of the chemicals they come with and could be detrimental to the fabric in your masterpiece. How ‘used’ would a dryer sheet have to be in order to be ‘safe’?

“When one is spending a small fortune on good fabric, is it not worth the few extra cents to purchase appropriate stabilizer, rather than take chances with a product designed for entirely different purposes?”

Annette J. writes:

“We had a message on the Applique Lovers list from a company that makes dryer sheets regarding using dryer sheets as stabilizers. They said that all the chemicals are not out of the dryer sheets after one use, so either don’t use them at all, or wash them to make sure that all the softener is out. They really didn’t recommend using them.”

Yolanda R. writes:

“I have also used new sheets for foundation piecing, especially when making lapel pins. The scent on the sheet gives a nice light aroma. Also, it is easy to draw on.”

Linda M. writes:

“I suggest to my students that dryer sheets only be used in items that will be washed with some regularity, since we don’t really know if all the chemicals are out and we don’t know what they might do to the fabric over time.”

Joyce M. writes:

“Last year, without discussing it with wiser heads, I used used dryer
sheets in an applique project. It seemed the perfect thing to do. I had only used them in the dryer and had not washed them. They were so light and easy to work with (most of them) I used them to sew and turn the
applique so the edges were neatly tucked in.

So far I have had no problem with my wallhanging. It is still as lovely as ever. But it has been only one year.”

Iola S. writes:

“I, too, think the chemicals might be harmful. I use my old drier sheets to
dust the screens on my TV, computer monitor, etc. Works good and the dust seems to stay off longer.”


One Response to You’re Throwing Away Free Applique Stabilizer!

  1. Gretchen Mickens

    If dryer sheets are harmful in a quilt , how could they be ok using them on clothes next to your body?(hint- use white vinegar for fabric softener). Just forget dryer sheets if you or family have allergies. For some reason I still like idea of dryer sheets for some projects.

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