Easy Embroidery transfers  


Direct Drawing method

Drawing free hand with the help of a pencil / water soluble pen on the fabric directly is the easiest method for transferring the embroidery designs. It is better if you keep the fabric stretched on the embroidery hoop when you draw the picture. Simple designs can be drawn by even those who think they cannot draw.

Dress maker’s Carbon Paper method.

Donot confuse a dress maker’s carbon with the normal office carbon. You will get smudge marks if you use the office carbon but not with the dress maker’s carbon. This is a very suitable method even for very complex designs. You get the carbon paper in many colors-the common colours are red, green, yellow, blue and white. You should be using the light colored sheets on dark colored fabric and dark colored sheets on light coloured fabric for the design to be visible. The marks  will disappear after a wash.

How to transfer using the carbon paper sheet

  1. Keep the fabric on a hard, flat and smooth  surface
  2. Place the carbon sheet , the carbon side down on the fabric where you want the design on
  3. Keep the design right side up on top of the carbon.
  4. Trace the design with a pencil firmly but gently.

Printer Ink method

This involves 2 ways – one way is transferring the designs printed on the paper using laser printer. This is transferred using heat to the fabric, as most of the laser ink transfers to the fabric. But the drawback is that  when making complex designs this maynot work so effectively as the transfer may not  come out very dark .

The second way involves printing the fabric using an inkjet printer.The fabric should be of the dimension which is accepted in the printer. You will have to adhere a light interfacing behind the fabric for it be fed properly into the printer. The disadvantage is that the marks made by the printer ink may be permanent and hence will have to be covered fully with embroidery. ( Checkout the tutorial on making cloth labels for more details)

Light method

You can make use of the transparent property of light to transfer the embroidery deigns on to fabric. The simple method involves keeping the fabric and design on a piece of transparent glass ( a window pane would work) against bright light. You can easily trace the design which  will show through the lighted transparent glass .  

A little more complicated method involves using a light box.Checkout this diy lightbox tutorial. Very convenient light tables are available with LED lights behind through which you can trace even the most complicated designs on the most opaque of clothes. I have not used it but the users vouch for its convenience.

  1. Keep the design on the glass table. Then fabric on top.
  2. Keep pattern weights on the design so that it would not shift. 
  3. Trace the outline of the design which you can see through the fabric. 

Prick method

This is a much preferred method in commercial hand embroidery set ups. Repeated motifs are very often traced using this method as a single design can be used again and again. Infact ths is the most decided benefit of this method as the tracing can be used many times.

A stiff tracing paper / butter paper is used . You will need a medium sized pointed sharp needle, charcol powder ( for light couloured fabric) or powdered chalk ( for dark coloured fabric). I have heard even talcum powder used. For making a liquid you should have kerosene though the smell is horrible.


  1. First trace the design on the butter paper/tracing paper using a pencil, keeping it on top of the design using a pencil
  2. Take a sharp needle and prick all along the outline of the design, very closely.Spacing the holes some 1/6th of an inch is ideal
  3. Using a fine sand paper gently rub the holes to remove the roughness. 
  4. Keep the tracing sheet on the fabric and hold it firmly by keeping pattern weights.
  5. Dab a small piece of fabric in kerosene. Then dip it in the powdered chalk. You can also dilute chalk powder in kerosene ( Don’t be bothered if you cannot find kerosene – this is how the professionals do it- I have heard that thinner work as well as kerosene in diluting the chalk powder) 
  6. Keep the butter paper on top of the fabric ( the pricked side touching the fabric)
  7. Rub the fabric dipped in chalk powder on the pricked holes. A pounce pad (a small roll of felt bound in the middle) can also be used with dry powder. 
  8. Take off the paper. Remove the excess loose powder from the fabric.
  9. Connect the dots using a pencil or water soluble pen. A fine brush with water colour is used to trace the lines by professionals. A blue or yellow colour paint  is used


The small holes  should be spaced out not close enough to run together into a large hole and yet sufficiently close to give a good impression of the drawn lines of the design. Checkout this video which shows the way the professionals so this . 

Tracing wheel method

I use this method all the time as it is very easy to do. The only draw back is the teeth of the tracing wheel can destroy the design sheet after one or two uses. You had better make a copy of the original design to do this. 

  1. Keep the design on the fabric
  2. Draw over the design outline using a tracing wheel. 
  3. The teeth of the tracing wheel will make a fine dotted line on the fabric 
  4. Take off the design and draw over the outline with a pencil or water soluble pen. 
  5. If you keep the carbon sheet between the design and fabric this will create a fine line which is very decipherable. 

Transfer paper method

Steps on using the transfer paper

  1. Keep the transfer paper on the design.
  2. Heat sealing wax to the proper consistency. ( It should be warm throughout the process)
  3. Using a fine brush draw outlines of the design using the wax
  4. Place the waxed side against the fabric and apply hot iron on the wrong side which is facing you. This will transfer the design on to the fabric

Tacking method

The design which is traced on to a gateway paper is kept on the fabric and running stitch by hand is used to outline the embroidery design on to the fabric.This is used mostly on very textured fabrics like velvet, suede Felts and other piled fabrics. 

1.Keep the fabric on a frame. 

2.Keep the design transfer paper on the fabric. 

3.Work running stitches along the line of the design through the paper and fabric. Ensure that at the starting and ending you have anchored the thread on the fabric with back stitches

4.After the outline is done pull the fabric gently away

An easy method is to use a basting stitch on your sewing machine. 

Water-soluble transfer materials method.

You can use a stabilizer with a self adhesive backing  or a very light interfacing sheet on which you can print / copy / draw the embroidery designs . With a stabilizer sheet like the  Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy Stabilizer you can stick it on to the fabric after peeling off the backing sheet and print the embroidery. Do the embroidery. Afterwards when you wash the fabric the stabilizer washes way fully. Very convenient but slightly expensive method.