While embroidery is practiced throughout the globe, its origin stems from China and the Near East. The earliest embroidery practices can be traced to Cro-Magnon days, which is about 30,000 B.C. Archeological evidence from this period reveals the fossilized remains of many embellished and hand-stitched clothes.
Embroidery is the art of decorating materials, mainly textiles using thread and needle (and occasionally excellent wire). The most basic techniques are needlepoint work, crewel work, cross-stitch, quilting, and featherwork and quillwork.
Hand embroidery, also known as surface embroidery, can be defined as decorating clothing or fabrics using embroideries (i.e., back stitch or running stitch, satin stitch, back stitch, and the list goes endlessly.) This is among the most commonly used types of embroidery used nowadays and is the type that I work with the most.
Transferring embroidery patterns onto fabric shouldn’t be difficult. However, you can select from many options. The texture, thickness (and the color) of the fabric frequently determine the method you choose and the materials you already have at hand. Three main strategies for transferring your embroidery design to your fabric are tracing or assigning and stabilizers.
Method of Tracing ( For Embroidery )
The tracing technique is easy to apply to fabric that is smooth or fabric with a light color. It is the first thing to print your embroidery pattern (or trace it on the paper or tracing paper). If your fabric is smooth enough, you may be able to lay the fabric directly on top of your paper pattern and begin the trace.
In most cases, you’ll require the light source behind your embroidery design to be able to see the pattern in the fabric. You can either apply your design to a bright light source and then put your fabric on top or utilize the lightbox. There are lightboxes that vary in size and price (an affordable alternative is the Crayola Light-Up Tracing pad). You could use tablets. Below, you can see how I’m using an iPad (using a free app named TracerBoard). A glass piece between the tablet and the embroidery pattern will prevent damage to your screen due to pressing too hard when tracing the pattern. Apply your design to the glass, and apply the fabric to the design (or secure it securely).
If you want to use tracing, you can choose from a range of tools available. Water-soluble pens, Frixion erasers as well as pencils work great. However, be sure to test your transfer method before marking the entire fabric because there’s a chance of markings not completely erasing or reappearing (in instances of water-soluble or Frixion pen). It is also possible to trace your design with a permanent marker like Sharpies with fine tips. However, you’ll need to ensure that the stitching covers the lines. If you’re using a pencil, draw lightly but enough to see the lines.
For Frixion Pens, eliminate the lines by putting an iron on the pen lines following stitching. There could be remnants of “ghosting” of the lines removed by washing your fabric after you’ve done stitching. It can also help prevent the lines from appearing again if your fabric is cold (like inside your luggage on an aircraft); however, it could also depend on the fabric you’re using.
Suggested Read: How To Make Tassels With Embroidery Thread?
A different method to trace the pattern directly onto the material is using a design transfer. Sulky Iron-on pencils and iron-on pencils are an excellent way to utilize the printed design directly. For this method, draw with the pen or pencil that you iron on the pattern’s reverse. Place it on the fabric (pen/pencil marks are down), and then iron until You transfer the pattern. Keep your iron in place while you iron so that you don’t smudge the lines, and then open your fabric to see how many lines have been transferred.
You could also trace your pattern using tracing paper first. Draw your embroidery pattern, then redraw your lines using the pen or pencil that you ironed on the reverse. Make sure that you draw on the reversal of the way, or the design will reverse as you flip it over to iron it on the fabric. To avoid any risk, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you mark the portion of the design facing up.
This will ensure that you don’t be able to reverse the pattern when transferring it onto the fabric. This technique isn’t always as delicate for the lines that are transferred onto your fabric. Mainly when your fabric isn’t highly smooth. This method can be permanent on fabric. Please read the directions on the specific pen or pencil you’re using, and try it out with a piece of fabric to test it first.
Another method of transfer is to use carbon paper for dressmakers. There is a range of colors to from which you can choose. I purchased these Clover Chacopy paper from my local needlework shop. The content of colors allows you to apply it to any fabric of any color or pattern. Place the carbon paper face downwards (colored face down) onto the fabric. Put your embroidery design (look up) over it, and trace the design using an eraser, pencil, or another tool.
You can gently lift the carbon paper to determine whether to transfer well or if you have to press more. The carbon used by dressmakers is washable, and the Clover brand is clean and easy to wash away. Avoid using carbon paper bought from an office supply store that is permanently etched for your clothing.
Suggested Read: How To Do Embroidery By Hand?
If you’re using a material with a bit of texture or not looking at the trace of your designs, using a photocopier can be an excellent alternative. Items such as Sulky Fabri-Solvy with a sticky surface help you transfer your design in a breeze. It is available in various sizes or rolls, but use sheets when you plan to use the printer with letter size. There are a variety of varieties of them, including sticky vs. water-soluble and tear away vs. soluble.
In the video tutorial, I’m using the water-soluble variety that you print your design onto your “fabric” side of the stabilizer. You could also draw your design onto it directly (or trace your pattern on the stabilizer); however, the best feature is that you can print it directly in your printer. Make sure you test your printer before you print and ensure that you are printing on the right part of the stabilizer. After printing, cut your design, then peel off the backing paper and adhere the design to the fabric. Make sure to stretch the fabric in the frame or hoop before attaching it to the stabilizer. Otherwise, the design may bend when placing your fabric in the frame or hoop.
The stitching goes right through the stabilizer. After that, you place your stitching under running water and then wash the stabilizer off. Rinse it off until you don’t feel any residue on the fabric or beneath the stitches. Allow your embroidery to dry naturally, or lightly apply an iron (face down on an absorbent towel to preserve the stitch’s shape).