How to Transfer Your Pattern Onto Your Fabric

Turtle and Mouse!So, you bought one of these fun patterns online, but how do you make it get on your fabric?

The best tutorial selection (I think) comes from the awesome NeedlenThread.com which is a great place for any kind of information about anything, ever, seriously, related to embroidery.  But crud, there are like, 20 transferring options listed on that website! Which is the best?

It seems like a lot of people on the interwebs use transfer pens or pencils, which involve tracing the design onto a piece of paper using a special pen that creates an iron-on transfer. Then you can iron on your design to any fabric, wood, animals, etc. This nice if you are sewing onto shirts, purses, and other things that are impractical to flatten out and/or you can’t see through them for whatever reason to trace the design directly onto the fabric. It is also great if you are going to be doing multiple embroideries of one design, because you can re-use your transfer.

However, the pens are not as cheap, the lines are not as thin, and the ink is not as removable as your basic mechanical pencil, which is what I use. First, I just lay the fabric on top of the printed out version of the design and hope I can see through it. If it looks like the image on the right (can’t see through the fabric), I use a piece of plexiglass/clear 12×12 quilting ruler with my desk lamp under it (a la NeedlenThread) for a “light box”, place the fabric on top of the design on top of the plastic on top of the lamp, and pencil it right on.

(NOTE: this works best when using a CFL bulbs, the heat of a traditional incandescent can melt your plastic; I know this from experience.)

Another option is holding your design and fabric up to a window and then you have an eco-friendly solar powered lightbox.

When I mess up and pencil all over in the wrong places, it is easy to just take some Woolite and a toothbrush and ‘erase’ all the pencil I don’t want on there.  (The only drawback I have found is that sometimes (only once for me) white thread picks up the lead and turns your thread gray, bummer).

However, an even EASIER method of embroidery pattern transfer is one I have never seen mentioned anywhere else, probably because it is a dumb idea and will ruin your computer monitor forever, so why do I do it? Because I am lazy!

What I often do is just place my fabric directly to my computer monitor and carefully (see top image) (not pressing down and damaging the screen (too much)), trace the design onto my fabric.  The light from the computer serves as your light box. This is nice because I can zoom in or out on the designs, if I want to re-size them. It is a great option for text as well, since you can just make the text any size you want by zooming in, as opposed to printing it out and it’s the wrong size, blah.

Obviously a water soluble marker is the best option for this, because it is softer when pressing up against your screen.  HOWEVER these stupid markers run out of ink faster than a politician can run up the national debt, so, that can be frustrating.

I am pretty sure I have used EVERY SINGLE option known to woman for marking fabric permanently or otherwise and I will someday do a review of all of them. But not today!

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