5 Ways to Transfer Embroidery Patterns onto Fabric
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.
So let’s go over some of the ways you can transfer your embroidery pattern straight away!
Transfer Embroidery Patterns Using the Window Method
The most basic method is the window method where you take advantage of the light. It’s essentially the same thing as using a light box.
- Simply print your pattern onto paper, trim, & tape it to the front of your hooped fabric (design should face your fabric).
- Set it against the window so the light shines through and trace your pattern on the back of your hooped fabric.
- When you’re done, un-hoop your fabric and re-hoop it with the tracing on the correct side of your hoop.
Alternatively, you can also tape your print to the window then tape your fabric over it which makes it easier to center, but if your fabric accidentally gets pulled off the window then lining it back up to your print can be a bit tricky.
When it comes to pens you’ll want a fine tip that won’t bleed so your lines don’t get too wide or messy. A light color is also helpful if you want to reduce any chance of it poking out from the stitches.
While you don’t need a special pen there are some available that will get rid of your lines once you’re finished stitching. One such pen is a heat erasable fabric pen. Just iron your embroidery and the heat will magically erase your pattern!
You can also try a washable fabric pens which require water to remove. Lots of embroiderers seem to love using washable fabric pens but I’m personally not a fan. I guess I like my lines to be a little more precise and while the instructions say it just takes some water I find that it still leaves a pale blue hue at times so it requires a little more work that I prefer.
By the way, if you use a pen be sure your ink is dry before you set it back in the hoop so you don’t accidentally smear anything.
Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy
Another method that helps you transfer embroidery patterns is the use of a stabilizer such as Sticky Fabri-Solvy. While most stabilizers aren’t for use with a printer, this one is which makes things so much easier!
Sticky Fabri-Solvy comes in 8.5 x 11 inches (as well as in a roll of 12″ x 6 yards) and has a self adhesive. Just print your pattern, peel off the backing and stick it to your fabric. You can then stitch over it and wash it away when you’re finished!
While this is a great method which makes it easy to transfer embroidery patterns onto fabric you’ll want to be sure to use high quality embroidery thread so it doesn’t bleed or fray. I’m a fan of DMC thread as I know I can count on it to stay looking beautiful!
Tip: Dark fabric will make it harder to see your design once the stabilizer is stuck to it so make sure to print your design bold enough in this case.
Once in awhile your needle might start to feel a little sticky. It could pick up a bit of the adhesive as you work. It’s not a bad idea to wipe your needle down with a cotton ball and some rubbing alcohol from time to time as you need to replace your thread.
If you’re printing out a small pattern you can print another pattern onto your stabilizer and cut it out for later. I really like Sticky Fabri-Solvi but it can be a little pricey compared to other methods so utilizing as much of it as you can will be worth it.
Let Spoonflower Transfer Embroidery Patterns For You
I’ve mentioned Spoonflower before 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, lightweight cotton twill, as well as their linen cotton canvas.
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 so it’s 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!
If you’re planning to have multiple patterns printed on a yard you’ll need to select your fabric first as they differ in width and you might need a program similar to Photoshop to help you lay out your patterns. If you don’t know how to use Photoshop you can still load one pattern on an 8×8 inch swatch which would fit a 6″ hoop. I usually like about 1.5″ extra around my hoop but it will still fit. It’ll just be a little close.
Use Your Home Printer to Transfer Embroidery Patterns!
Another way to transfer embroidery patterns onto fabric involves a printer. It is totally possible to print on fabric using your printer, Cricut, or Silhouette. I haven’t tried printing with Cricut or Silhouette but I’ve definitely used both my inkjet and laser printer to transfer my pattern to fabric and it works beautifully!
Since my printer has a maximum width of 8.5 inches I only use this method for patterns which will work on hoops 6″ or smaller and I use cotton fabric.
Okay, so here’s how I transfer embroidery patterns onto fabric using my printers:
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Ironed cotton fabric
- 8.5 x 11 inch sticker paper
First, you’ll need to iron out your cotton fabric. While you can cut it down to make it more manageable, don’t cut it to size just yet. A safe size to cut it roughly down to would be 13 x 15 or so.
Next, partially peel and fold down the backing of your sticker paper about 2 or 3 inches. Then press the exposed sticker down onto your fabric. Run your hands or a flat edge across your sticker paper to ensure it’s really stuck to your fabric.
Now hold down the sticker where it’s already sticking to your fabric, reach under your sticker paper and slowly pull the backing off inch by inch. Stop every couple of inches to smooth down the newly exposed sticker to the fabric.
Continue on until the backing is fully removed then run your hands over your sticker to ensure that it is sticking to your fabric as best as possible. You can use a flat edge as well.
Now trim off any excess fabric so it will fit the size of your 8.5 x 11 sticker.
Place your fabric into your paper tray and print. I use the standard settings I normally use for printing on plain paper. Here’s my pattern printed on my fabric:
Now all you have to do is peel the sticker paper off & set your fabric onto your hoop! I’ve used this method many times and it’s one of my favorites when I want to transfer my pattern to fabric asap. It’s inexpensive and quick so I can get to stitching straight away!
Some tips for this method:
- Make sure your pattern is true to the size before you print. I always run a test print on regular paper first.
- The ink you use is not colorfast if you’re using an inkjet printer so it can possibly bleed if it gets wet. I say it’s possible, but so far I haven’t had any issues. If you do, consider reducing the opacity of the print.
- If you’re planning to wash your fabric you also want to keep in mind that using an inkjet printer can cause your lines to bleed. A laser printer might be the better option in this case.
- The fabric you print on could potentially get stuck in your printer. I’ve tested this method many times with cotton linen and have never had a jam in either of my printers but I can’t guarantee that your printer will be as friendly as mine.
I love using my printer to transfer embroidery patterns so here’s a little video.
There is one other method to transfer embroidery patterns onto fabric I’d like to mention and it requires transfer paper (or wax free carbon paper) and a pen or stylus which you can purchase on Amazon.
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 is probably my least used method since I just prefer to use the window method over messing with extra carbon paper.
Give some of these methods a try! I’d love to know which is your favorite. and if you have a method you’d like to share, please do! The window method is a great option if you just want to get it done simply but for crisper transfers I’m a huge fan of using my printer or uploading to Spoonflower. I don’t mind that I’m not able to remove my pattern as I find printing them in light colors helps keep them hidden.
If you want to remove any sign of your transfer image my favorite methods may not be right for you, but lucky for all of us there’s not just one way to do it!
❤️ Happy transferring!