6 Ways to Transfer your Embroidery Design to Fabric

Embroidery Transfer

6 Ways to Transfer your Embroidery Design to Fabric

There are a variety of techniques to transfer an embroidery or needlepoint design to fabric. Select the one that will work the best for the complexity of your design and the color and texture of your fabric.

Embroidery Transfer

1. Trace using window or light box

Tape your design on a window or light box using painters tape.

Lay your fabric over your design and tape it so that it doesn’t shift while you are tracing it.

Trace your design to your fabric.

This method works best for lightweight fabrics so you can easily see the design through the fabric.

You can use a Frixion pen to trace and it will give you a nice sharp line for your embroidery. If you haven’t used these pens, try them. You can make a mark on the fabric, and when you are ready for the marks to be gone, just iron them away. Make sure to test on a corner of your fabric before transferring the pattern and stitching.

Some people prefer the water soluble pens to mark their fabric. These pen marks erase when the fabric is wet with cool water. Heat will set these marks, so keep away from heat until your embroidery dries naturally.

Tip: Painters tape works best because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue on your fabric and it easily comes off of the paper.

2. Heat sensitive pens or pencils

Print out your pattern on paper.

Trace the entire design with either a pen or pencil directly on the paper.

Follow the directions with your pen or pencil to transfer the design to your fabric with an iron.

If your design has a direction, when you turn the paper over to transfer the design to the fabric, it will be reversed. If you want it a specific direction, trace the design on the back of the printed pattern, or use a computer program to reverse the design before printing.

This method works well on heavier fabrics that light does not shine through. Check your product because the design may be permanent on your fabric. So don’t use with dainty lines or stitches that show the line, like the Daisy Stitch.

3. Tracing Paper

Trace your design onto tracing paper using any pencil or pen.

Place your tracing paper on your fabric and baste through the design lines on your fabric. The basting lines become your embroidery pattern on your fabric.

Once the entire pattern is basted, carefully remove the tracing paper. Now your pattern is ready for stitching.

This method works well on textured or thick fabrics that are difficult to mark with any of the above methods.

Water Soluble Stabilizer

4. Water-Soluble Stabilizer

Print your pattern directly on the stabilizer.

Baste the stabilizer to your fabric before hooping, with the stabilizer on top of the right side of your fabric.

Stitch through the stabilizer and fabric, using the pattern printed on the stabilizer.

When completed, soak your piece to remove the stabilizer, according to the manufacturer’s directions.

This method is great for very intricate designs and fabrics that are hard to mark with other methods. The fabric and threads must be washable, and not bleed. We recommend testing all of your threads and fabric before trying this method. You’d hate to have something run and ruin your work.

4. Transfer Paper

Place your fabric on a hard surface.

Place the transfer paper on top of your fabric, with the transfer side down.

Then place your pattern on top of the transfer paper.

Trace around your pattern using a pen or stylus with moderate pressure to transfer the pattern to your fabric.

This method works well with thicker fabrics where the light method doesn’t work, but not ones with a lot of texture.  Also, you can purchase transfer paper in a variety of colors, so it works well with dark fabrics.

6. Printer Ink

Print your pattern using your printer.

Place the ink side of the paper to the right side of your fabric. This will reverse your image, so use a symmetrical pattern. If your design has text, you will want to reverse the image before printing.

Press with a hot, dry iron.

Note: Test this. Not all printer inks work. Also, sometimes it is a very faint line.


Browse through all of the embroidery projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.


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