5 Tips for Transfers of Embroidery Patterns

5 Tips for Transfers of Embroidery Patterns


Embroidery has always been considered an art, but what crafters are doing with needle and thread today totally exceeds “traditional” embroidery by far. Today, they are using innovative designs and materials, taking embroidery to new artistic realms!

One of the basics that makes embroidery possible is the use of embroidery patterns. There are several different ways to do this and the choice of techniques can often depend on the weight or color of the fabric being used. Imagescapes Embroidery and Screen Printing explores different embroidery pattern transfer methods and provides 5 pattern transfer tips in this article:


Tip #1: Heat Transfer Pencils

Heat transfer pencils or pens are a great option for marking your embroidery design on fabric and will work on both light and heavy weight fabrics. They are available in blue or red and the ink is activated by the heat of an iron. Please be aware that these pencils are permanent and the markings will not wash out. The marked lines must be completely covered with the embroidery in order for them not to be visible.

To use a heat transfer pencil simply trace the design in reverse on a lightweight sheet of paper. The design must be traced in reverse because the pressing process creates a mirror image of the design marked on the paper. The easiest way to to do this is to print your patter, turn it over and then trace the design on the back side of the paper.

Once you have traced your pattern, place the paper against the fabric and press with a hot iron. Lift the iron off the paper before moving it to the next location, otherwise moving the iron back and forth will distort the image.


Tip #2: Use Light

You can transfer the designs directly onto your embroidery fabric using a light source such as a light box or window if your fabric is fairly thin. To transfer a design using this method, tape the pattern to the glass and cover the pattern with the fabric. You should be able to see the design very clearly through the fabric, mark the lines with a chalk based marking pencil or a water soluble transfer pen or pencil.


Tip #3: Transfer Paper

This method is oftentimes called the dressmakers’ carbon paper. Designs can be transferred to thicker fabrics using carbon or wax based transfer paper.

This lightweight transfer paper is coated on one side with a powdery colored ink and is made specifically for the use on fabrics that will wash out of the finished piece. When using these papers, use the light colored piece of paper to mark designs on darker fabrics and a darker color on lighter fabrics. Just in case the ink is a bit stubborn when washing it out, use the lightest color possible.

After you have determined what paper you will use, you are ready to transfer your design. First, lay the fabric (face up) on a hard surface, such as a table. Next, center the transfer paper over the fabric having the waxy ink towards the fabric and arrange the patter on top of the transfer paper. Finally, transfer the design to the fabric using an empty ball point marking pen or a stylus, making sure to press hard enough for the design to transfer successfully through the layers of paper.


Tip #4: Pouncing

Pouncing was a very common way to transfer embroidery designs to fabric long before transfer paper and iron-on inks were used. This is a very neat method and pouncing supplies can still be found in specialty needlework shops.

When using this method, a paper pattern is pricked with pins at regular intervals. The design pattern is then secured to the fabric, and a powdered pigment is worked through the holes in a pouncing motion using a soft fabric pad.


Tip #5: Hot Iron Transfers

This is one of the easiest methods available because you can purchase these patterns ready to use and they feature a wide range of subjects, usually available printed in gray or blue ink. The designs are transferred to the fabric using a hot iron in the same manner as patterns traced using transfer pens and pencils.


Don’t be afraid to try some (or all) of the methods discussed in this article. Being a little adventurous will help you determine which options and techniques you prefer and expand your creativity. Most importantly, have fun!

Imagescapes Embroidery and Screen Printing takes pride in providing quality service above all else for our customers. For more information about embroidery pattern transfer methods or general questions about embroidery, do not hesitate to contact Imagescapes Embroidery and Screen Printing today!




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