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Freezer Paper, Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy or Fusible Adhesive? Which Stabilizer to Use When?

Freezer paper, Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy or Fusible Adhesive? Which product do I use when?

I rely heavily on three products/stabilizers for the work I do.

  • Freezer paper
  • Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy
  • Heat & Bond Fusible Adhesive

I recently had someone ask when I use each one – and that’s a great question.

Here’s the rundown. . .

Freezer Paper

Freezer paper is an excellent stabilizer.

I use it most often to cut out felt pieces. I print the pattern pieces directly onto the freezer paper. (You can trace if you’re not as lazy as I am.) I iron the paper to the felt and then I cut the pieces out – cutting through the felt and the freezer paper at the same time. Since I label all my pieces it means I have a nice pile of labeled felt pieces, cut perfectly accurately, waiting for me to stitch them together. Awesome!

Freezer paper also works this way when cutting out regular fabric, but I only use it on fairly small pieces – so small that I can’t use pattern weights. I use it for ALL my felt cutting.

Freezer paper is also excellent for fusing to the back of any fabric that you’re going to draw or paint on. If you’ve ever tried to do that without a stabilizer, you know that the pen or marker will tend to drag the fabric along with it. It can be really hard to keep it flat and smooth. Freezer paper makes the fabric act like paper. Handy!

Finally, people use freezer paper for this appliqué method. That used to be my favorite method – until I tested some of the new fusible adhesives out on the market and found a new favorite. 🙂

In all cases – the freezer paper will peel right off when you’re done. It doesn’t leave any residue behind, and you can reuse it a LOT of times before it loses its ability to fuse.

You can find rolls of freezer paper in the grocery store, or shop for these printable sheets.

Fusible Adhesive

Fusible adhesive is what I use in all my appliqué projects. That’s mostly quilts, but also T-shirts, tote bags, pillows and more. Unlike the freezer paper – which sticks temporarily to the fabric – the fusible adhesive is a permanent glue.

So the only time I use this product is when I want to permanently stick one piece of fabric to another.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE using Heat & Bond Lite fusible adhesive on printable sheets, as opposed to the stuff you can buy by the bolt. It’s more expensive – yes – but it lets me skip over the tedious tracing step and jump right to the fun part of my appliqué project. That’s worth money to me. 🙂

Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy

The Magical Embroidery Stuff! This amazing invention has made every part of my crafting life easier and more fun. (I wrote a whole post about its awesomeness here.)

I use it to transfer embroidery patterns to EVERYTHING. There are other products you could use to transfer a pattern to light-colored, smooth, woven fabric – but Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy makes embroidery on every surface possible. And it makes stitching on smooth woven cotton easier and better.

With this stuff you can embroider stretchy fabrics like T-shirts and baby onesies (no extra stabilizer needed). You can embroider dark fabrics. You can embroider nappy fabrics like velvet and terrycloth and fleece. You can embroider felt. Oh! How I love embroidering on felt!

I use it to stabilize stretchy fabrics when I appliqué on them. It just washes away – leaving no itchy stabilizer behind.

I freehand all my quilting designs – but if I did anything fancy I would print or draw it on this and stitch through it, then soak it away later.

Freezer paper vs. Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy

I think this is where most people get confused, because I use both of them extensively when I work with felt.

If I’m just cutting the shape out – I use freezer paper. It’s cheaper and doesn’t require soaking to remove.

If I’m embroidering something on the shape and then cutting it out – I use the Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy. Sometimes you’ll see me recommend both things in one project – like this snowman ornament.

Happy Snowman Felt Ornament Pattern

The hat, hat band, and carrot nose have no embroidery on them. Neither does the back of the ornament. I cut all of those pieces out with freezer paper.

The snowman front and the scarf both have embroidery on them, so for those I printed the pattern on Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy, stuck it to the felt, embroidered the details, cut it out on the lines, and soaked off the stabilizer. (You can see how this works in this post.)

All of my patterns tell you which product to use where.

I hope that answers your questions about which product I use in which situation! Let me know if you have any other questions about any of them. I love them all and I’m always happy to share info about products that make your crafting easier and more fun. 🙂

These links go to all my posts about quilt supplies.

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about cutting and quilting your background blocks.

Happy stitching!


  1. Donelle SAYS...

    Thank you so much! This really cleared up the different uses for each product. Love your blog and your Craftsy class.

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  3. david greenfield SAYS...

    Ok, I just bought and downloaded two of your embroidery patterns, but I am using Osnaburg fabric and it won’t show through the fabric. They are 7 1/2″ square. So, I hate tracing too, as I’ve asked you before can I use the magical sticky stuff even though it will be moved inside my 8 1/2 inch hoop, or is carbon copy paper my only other opyion? thanks, David

    • I use Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy with a hoop all the time and I’ve never had a problem with it. I don’t use Osnaburg, but I don’t see why it would be a problem.

  4. Kim McKinlay SAYS...

    Hi Wendi,
    I want to embroider a baby’s name on a quilted block, would the sulky sticky fabric-solvy work for this application. I would print the name in script on the product.
    Thanks, Kim

  5. Laura Wilson-Anderson SAYS...

    Hi –

    The first time I read about this, it sounded like an iron-on. I bought a roll and used my mini clover iron to fuse several inchies to felt. Now I have some larger designs on the Sulky and can’t get them to fuse at all (felt again). What am I doing wrong? Is there a trick to it that I’m missing? 🙁 Reading it again, and on the Sulky site, it doesn’t sound like you use an iron?

    • Laura Wilson-Anderson SAYS...

      Ignore that. I bought two different things, then thought I’d bought two of each. Argh. My patterns are transferring nicely now. 🙂


    I paint t shirts, and was wondering if transfering designs using solvy would work? Can you paint over it?

    • No. Since the Solvy washes away, anything you painted on it would also break up and wash away.

  7. Wendy O'Connell SAYS...

    My question is about needles — what type of sewing needle are you using when embroidering on felt when using the solvy sticky stuff ? I’m having a devil of a time and finding it very hard to get the needle through. Thanks!

    • I use an embroidery needle. If your solvy stuff was exposed to a lot of heat/humidity (like when I forget and leave mine in the car in the summer) it can leave a sticky residue on your needle and make it harder to pull through. Just use some Thread Magic and it eliminates the stickiness completely.

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  9. Sally S Gardner SAYS...

    Hi Wendy I bought the sulky sticky fabri-solvy to use as a stabilizer for a t shirt pattern but was told since it is washable it wont secure the stitching is this true?

    • Yes – the Sulky Sticky Fabri-solvy washes out in water. So you print the pattern on it, stick it to the front of your T-shirt (WITHOUT stretching the fabric) then hoop it up and embroider through both the stabilizer and the T-shirt. The stabilizer keeps that stretchy T-shirt fabric from stretching and distorting your stitches. When you’re finished embroidering, just soak out the stabilizer. The T-shirt will go back to being stretchy, and it doesn’t leave any residue on the shirt – just your stitching.