How to transfer embroidery designs to fabric (video)

How to transfer embroidery designs to fabric


Embroidery is big in quilting circles these days—browse a recent quilt magazine or visit your local quilt shop and you’ll likely see running stitches, lazy daisies, and French knots on quilts, bags, pincushions, and almost anything else you can poke a needle into.

Garden Delight needle book
“Garden Delight” needle book from Patchwork Loves Embroidery

Why is embroidery so popular? It’s easy, inexpensive, portable, and a fun way to personalize fabric projects. And whether you prefer timeless floral designs or trendy monster motifs, embroidery techniques remain simple, and remain the same. Learn them and they’ll serve you for the rest of your creative days.

Lovebirds table runner
“Lovebirds” table runner from Patchwork Loves Embroidery

With embroidery, every maker starts at step one: learning how to transfer embroidery designs to fabric. We caught up with Gail Pan, author of the best-selling Patchwork Loves Embroidery, at Fall Quilt Market, and asked her how she transfers her charming embroidery designs to fabric. Watch her easy method in this video (and delight in her Australian accent!):


Reading this in email? See the “How to transfer embroidery designs to fabric” video at the Stitch This! blog or watch it on YouTube.


After tracing, Gail says, “I always back my traced fabric with a very lightweight fusible interfacing. This serves to prevent show-through of the embroidery threads and knots. And, because the interfacing stiffens the fabric a bit, there is less distortion of the fabric and stitches when the embroidered piece is hooped. To do as I do, cut a piece of interfacing the same size and shape as your background fabric and, following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse it in place after you’ve traced the design and before you start stitching.”

Happily Ever After sewing bag
“Happily Ever After” sewing bag

Patchwork Loves EmbroideryEager to embroider? Pick up Patchwork Loves Embroidery for all of Gail’s embroidery techniques plus 15 of her patchwork and hand-embroidery projects.

See more from Patchwork Loves Embroidery

Print book: $24.99
eBook: $16.99

Already own the book? Write a review! Click on the “customer reviews” tab and share your thoughts.


Stitched for FunWant more embroidery projects?

Quickly transform most any plain textile object into a personalized work of art! Even a complete beginner can embroider the simple motifs in Stitched for Fun on all kinds of items, from aprons and linens to shoes and lampshades. Choose from 35 sweet embroidery projects; use the motifs to embroider on cotton, fleece, felt, denim—even paper! See the projects.


On a scale from 1 to 10 stitches (10 being the best): how do you rate your embroidery skills? Tell us in the comments!


21 Comments (leave a comment)

  • Presently I would rate myself an 8 in the area of embroidery. I don’t know how to do very much stump work and would love to learn.

    —Patricia D. Roberts on January 26, 2015
  • I rate my embroidery skills between an 8 and 9. My mother prompted me to learn this skill when I was 10 yr old. I am so glad she did. I believe it is a skill that should be taught today because it is something I use even more than math.

    —Wendi M. on January 26, 2015
  • My hand embroidery is at about a 5 level. My mother taught me the basic stitches even before I learned how to hem my skirts and sew on buttons in early grade school. My first project was a lazy daisy to help mask a patch on a small hole in a shirt I couldn’t bear to give up. The second project was a basket of daisies (a theme?) and ivy on a set of cotton pillowcases for her Christmas present that year, which I received back from her when she downsized into assisted living a few years ago. I had the "pleasure" of ironing them for years before I left home. I often use embroidery on my quilts as alternatives to the built-in decorative stitches on my machine, whether for the actual quilting or for embellishment. Every time I stitch a lazy daisy I think of my mother.

    —Jane on January 26, 2015
  • my embroidery skills are pretty low now. I used to do embroidery years ago but are so heavy into quilting now- I do very little now and always use a book that I have with good directions to guide me.

    —Nancy on January 26, 2015
  • My embroidery skills are pretty good for the stitches I do know. I would like to increase my stitch repertoire and am currently working on a sampler to do just that. I will turn it into my own stitch guide.

    —Judy M on January 26, 2015
  • Embroidery is how I got into quilting. I’d say I’m a 7. I inherited some beautifully embroidered quilt blocks from my grandmother 15 years ago. (My mother told me that my 16 yr old aunt, who had died from TB in the early 40s, had made them while she was in the sanitarium.) But, I needed 3 more blocks to make a quilt. I copied the pattern, both the patchwork and the embroidery, found 1930/1940’s fabric at an antique store, made 3 more blocks, then made them all into a beautiful quilt. I love showing it to people and asking people to guess which blocks were made in the 30s/40s vs the 3 that I made. I call it my Aunt Lola quilt to honor a special girl who I never got to meet.

    —Suzanne on January 26, 2015
  • My embroidery skills are still good; I love hand embroidery. I have made several samplers. I would say a 8 depending on counted cross stitching and the background piece. I need more training on linen. Love Gail Pan and her creative embroidery plus quilted projects.

    —carol on January 26, 2015
  • My handwork is about an 8. I do smock reasonably well ( just not some of the newer stitches) and I love cross stitch, needle point and basic embroidery. I have taken a class given by Wendy Schoen. Her shadow embroidery and other stitching are a 12+!

    —Judi on January 26, 2015
  • I recently "got into" doing art quilts. There is some sort of embroidery on nearly every piece. It does not have to be as lovely as on one of the designs in Patchwork Loves Embroidery but is good practice for finer work.
    I’m a #9 now.

    —Elizabeth schnelle on January 26, 2015
  • I love embroidery and enjoy doing it in the evening when I am watching TV. I would say I am an eight. My mother was at least a ten!! She did beautiful work.

    —Verna on January 26, 2015
  • I’d say my skills are about 8. I love trying new stitches.

    —jean crowe-balliro on January 26, 2015
  • I learned early, probably about 7 or 8 years of age in Brownies. I still have my first project. Throughout my life I have embroidered, more lately because I retired from teaching Home Economics and Elementary School. The students were always anxious to learn to embroider. Last year I did a Sashiko sampler as a way of passing the time while waiting to move for our home renovation. I also made some reversibe coasters for an old schoolmate for a housewarming gift. I have to be always doing something with my hands. I can stand to be idle. I gave the sampler to a friend who had taught in Japan. I plan to do more embroidery in the future as it’s so relaxing. My skills are probably an 8 or 9. Years ago I embroidered on my husband’s chambray shirts, and now I have rescued those labor intensive works as the shirts wore out. I need to figure a way to display them.

    —Rosemary on January 26, 2015
  • My skills were a 9 at one time but now I think they are a 5. I need to relearn and practice all over again. Age and arthritis and broken bones have won out.

    —Chris on January 26, 2015
  • In response to Rosemary: I embroidered bibs for my granddaughter from the time she was born until she grew too old to wear a bib. Luckily she kept them in good condition and I was able to cut the embroidered parts out and use them as the center of crazy quilt blocks. I used scraps of her baby clothes to fill in around the embroidered pieces.

    —Geri on January 27, 2015
  • Arrgh! Cannot access the video. Have updated Flash and still cannot access it! Would be great to have text to accompany posts with video.

    Linda Carlson on January 30, 2015
  • I think I am a seven. I learned how to embroider at my mother’s knee…literally! She would be sewing clothes on her machine and I would be sitting on the floor sewing buttons onto scrap fabric, or embroidering hankies! I still enjoy doing embroidery. I did up a set of embroidered tea towels for my MIL for Mother’s Day last year.
    Thanks so much for the giveaway,
    Jacqueline in Pitt Meadows

    Jacqueline VH on January 30, 2015
  • Love to embroider! Skill level for needlepoint and x-stitch: 9. Skill level for crewel work more like 5. I seem to pull the work too tight in my hoop!

    —Linda Towers on January 31, 2015
  • My mother taught me to embroider when I was pretty young; it was my first needle work. I would give myself a 7 or 8. I’m pretty sure there are stitches that I haven’t seen or tried yet.

    —Pearl on January 31, 2015
  • I’ve been embroidering since I was 11 years old and I’m a perfectionist. I enjoy the process as much as I enjoy finishing a project, so I don’t mind taking my time to do it right, even if that means removing some stitches that I don’t think are my best. I have seen embroidery that’s better than mine, so I won’t claim to be a 10. I would rate myself a 9.

    —Theresa on February 3, 2015
  • I am a little rusty, so I find myself reviewing various stitches. I learned how to embroider when I was a child — have always loved making items! I embroidered off and on for years — and then stopped. I am recently taking it up again, and enjoy it so much!

    —Elizabeth McDonald (catskill quilter) on March 9, 2015
  • I have been embroidering since I was 9 or 10, thanks to my grandma. I love the touch of needle, thread and fabric. I would rate myself as 8 because I have stitches to learn and perfect!

    —Kathy on March 9, 2015

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