How to transfer embroidery designs onto fabric: 3 ways (+ giveaway!)

If you’ve ever wondered how to transfer embroidery designs onto fabric, you’re in luck—we’ve got three easy ways to share with you today!

The how-to comes from Lunch-Hour Embroidery, a book packed with more than 75 cute motifs to embroider, plus the entire alphabet in both capital and lowercase letters. The illustrations are easy to enlarge or reduce, and you can transfer them to clothing, linens, bags, and more. Mix and match motifs and letters to create one-of-a-kind embroidery projects like we did—check out what Martingale staffers and friends have made from the book so far:

Best of all, you need only learn 10 basic embroidery stitches to create every motif in the book. Sweet!

More embroidery motifs from the book

Now, here’s that how-to . . . experiment with all three methods to find your favorite.


Excerpt from Lunch-Hour Embroidery

There are a number of ways to transfer embroidery designs to your project fabric. You can research online tutorials for more details about each method.

Tracing with a light source.
For thin or light-colored fabrics, trace the design onto tissue or copy paper, then darken (but don’t thicken) the traced lines with a fine-point black marker. Place your fabric on top of the traced design and lightly trace the design lines with a pencil or water-erasable marker. If you have trouble seeing the design lines through the fabric, you can tape the design paper and fabric to a window so that the light source makes the lines visible. And if you have a lightbox, transferring designs is a snap, even with dark fabrics.

Heat-transfer pencil.
Similar to the technique above, you’ll trace the motif onto tracing or copy paper with a special heat-transfer pencil. (For asymmetrical or one-way designs, you’ll need to reverse the design before you trace it.) Flip over the tracing paper so that the image side is down, place it on your project fabric, and press with dry heat until the image transfers, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy wash-away stabilizer.
A water-soluble stabilizer is perfect for dark fabrics (and all other fabrics, too) and allows you to trace the design and adhere it right on top of the embroidery fabric. This stabilizer is thin and has an adhesive back that you can reposition. Embroider right through the stabilizer, then dissolve it in warm water, following the manufacturer’s directions. You can even run sheets of stabilizer through a laser printer!

We love having options, don’t you?

Our friends at Lecien Fabrics sent us a lovely bundle of Cosmos embroidery floss to give away to one lucky winner today:

To enter to win the floss and a copy of Lunch-Hour Embroidery, tell us in the comments:

How do you typically transfer embroidery motifs to fabric?

  • Light source
  • Heat-transfer pencil
  • Wash-away stabilizer
  • I’ve found another way . . . and I’ll share it in the comments!

We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you’d like to start a new embroidery project right away, order Lunch-Hour Embroidery at our website and instantly download the eBook for free.

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Dottie, who says:

“I use a light source, or light-colored background fabric that I can see through! Would love to try the washable stabilizer.”

We’ll email you about your prize, Dottie—congratulations!

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