Backing and topping serve to stabilize and support the product being embroidered so the stitches can be sewn with the least amount of interference or instability. They serve as stabilizers for your embroidery work. Without the proper type of stabilizer, the fabric may move too much within the embroidery frame causing poor alignment of the embroidery. At times, topping will be required in order to manage fabrics with a pile-like surface, such as towels, corduroy and pique knit. There are many types of backing and toppings with various weights for the various fabrics that you may be sewing.
There are four types of stabilizers (backing) that can be used in embroidery: cut-away, tear-away, water soluble and self-adhesive. In these four types, various weights, sizes and textures are available. When selecting the stabilizer type for a particular fabric, consider the design size in addition to the stitch count and stitch type used in the design.
Finally, make sure that the stabilizer is not stretched. Some backings may not stretch vertically or horizontally but may stretch diagonally. DO NOT USE THESE TYPES. This type of backing will stretch during sewing and may cause the design to shift.