5 Ways to Transfer Embroidery Patterns onto Fabric
Table of Contents
- The Window Method
- Heat Erasable Fabric Pens
- Sticky Stabilizer
- Transfer Paper
- My Favorite Method
To transfer embroidery patterns onto fabric you'll find that there isn't one right way to do it, and as with anything, experimenting is the key to discovering which will work best for you. Once you figure that out you'll usually stick to those methods, but there may be times a different method would work better, so it's good to know how to transfer embroidery patterns several ways. I have two favorite methods and pretty much stick to them.
1. The Window Method
Using the window method is a lot like using a light box but you don’t need any special equipment and it won’t cost you anything. You just need your printed pattern, pen or pencil, tape, and a bright window.
- Trim your pattern and tape it face down to the front of your hooped fabric.
- Place the front of the hooped fabric on the window and trace the pattern on the back.
- Un-hoop the fabric when you’re done and re-hoop it so the tracing is on the front.
OR transfer it without the hoop:
- Tape the pattern to the center and back of your fabric.
- Tape your fabric to the window.
- Trace your pattern on the front.
- Hoop your fabric.
The advantage of using a hoop is that it will stretch out your fabric so it’s less likely for your pattern to look warped, but both ways work well. Use a thin, light pen or pencil so when you’re finished stitching you won’t see the transfer marks.
2. Heat Erasable Fabric Pens
You don’t need a special pen to transfer patterns but if you want to try them there are heat erasable fabric pens. Just iron your finished embroidery and the heat will magically erase your pattern.
There are also washable fabric pens and some embroiderers love using washable fabric pens but I’m personally not a fan as I didn’t like how thick the lines came out. With washable pens the ink disappears with water but I can sometimes still see a pale blue hue. A very thin pen or pencil works just fine.
3. Sticky Stabilizer
Another method that helps you transfer embroidery patterns is the use of a dissolvable stabilizer such as Sticky Fabri-Solvy which you can hand draw or print on.
Sticky Fabri-Solvy comes in 8.5 x 11 inch sheets (as well as in a roll of 12" x 6 yards) and is self adhesive. Just print your pattern, peel off the backing and stick it to your fabric. Stitch over it and soak in water to dissolve it away. I really like Sticky Fabri-Solvi but the downside is, it’s pricier compared to other methods and they’re one time use, so it’s something to keep in mind.
4. Transfer Embroidery Patterns using Spoonflower
I have a Spoonflower shop and I absolutely love, love, love using them for both my fabric designs and embroidery patterns! Not only is it easy to upload my patterns but I also get to choose my fabric. I love their signature cotton fabric which is perfect for embroidery!
Keep in mind that in order to use this method the design you upload has to be your own and they will ask you this before you're allowed to use their service. It's a good thing because it protects you and other creators... another reason to love Spoonflower!
While you can order an 8 x 8 inch swatch which is the perfect size for small designs I often order a yard of fabric so I can have multiple patterns printed at once which is more cost effective.
To transfer embroidery patterns onto fabric using Spoonflower your file needs to be a jpg, png, gif, and tif files, and upload is easy! You'll be able to see how your fabric will lay on your swatch, fat quarter, or yard before you purchase it. It does take a week or so to get your order but I think it's worth the wait. This option also allows you to add color to your patterns which adds a little extra magic!
This is a great option if you create your own designs.
5. Transfer Paper (or Wax Free Carbon Paper)
To use transfer paper (or wax free carbon paper) you’ll need a stylus.
Lay your fabric on a hard surface & tape down. Tape your transfer paper over it. Then tape your pattern over the transfer paper and trace with your stylus, or embossing pen.
Be sure to get the correct type of transfer paper. Some are waxy and can be difficult to transfer and the lines will be hard to remove so any random marks may not disappear. You'll also want to use a hard surface as you trace so you can get as sharp a tracing as possible.
This method is great when your fabric is dark.
My Favorite Method
Of the 5 transfer methods, I prefer the old-fashion window method because it’s simple, inexpensive, and doesn’t require anything special. My absolute favorite method however involves a home printer but not everyone has one so I’ve made a separate tutorial for that. It’s easy, quick, and your transfer comes out nice and precise. Obviously, there’s a size limit with this option and you’ll be limited depending on the maximum size your printer allows you to print.
You’ll need your printer, 8.5 x 11 inch sticker paper, and a pair of scissors. Just add your fabric to your sticker paper, trim, and print. There are more details to this so I made a post on how to transfer your pattern using your home printer (there’s also a little video tutorial). Take a peek!
Give some of these methods a try! I'd love to know which is your favorite.