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February 13, 2020

transfer methods

there are several easy methods for transferring a pattern onto fabric. you'll want to choose the right one for your project, taking into account the content and color of the fabric you are using, the type of pattern you have, and the amount of detail in the design.



This is the most straightforward method. It requires no special materials, and can be used if your fabric is light in color and if you have access to a nice sunny window (or a lightbox). It's great for simple patterns, but one drawback to this method is that if your design is very detailed, you will have a lot of tracing to do to transfer all the lines.

  • Tape the pattern piece onto a window, and then tape the fabric directly on top of the pattern. You should be able to see the image through the fabric.
  • Using a wash-out pen, lightly trace the pattern directly onto the fabric. You could also use a sharp pencil to draw the lines, but they won't wash out as easily and may smear onto the fabric. 


With this method, you'll basically be tracing and ironing. Keep in mind that you'll be placing the image face-down to iron it onto your fabric, so it will print backwards. With some designs, this may not matter. But if your design has text, or if you want to use the original image and not the mirror image, you can either print it as a mirror image OR flip the pattern over and trace it from the back.

  • Place a piece of tracing paper over the pattern pieces and trace the design onto your tracing paper using the iron-on pen. Use small pieces of tape at the corners to keep the papers in place while you are tracing.
  • Once the image is traced, you are ready to transfer it to fabric.
  • Lay the tracing paper, drawing side down, on top of the fabric.
  • Using a hot dry iron, press firmly (don’t rub, as this may cause it to smudge) on each section of the image until the entire image has been transferred. Check the instructions on your transfer pencil for recommended times. Lift the paper carefully, one corner at a time, to be sure that the image has transferred completely. 


Carbon paper comes in different colors. If you want to transfer a design onto dark fabric, you can use white carbon paper.

  • Place the carbon paper carbon side down onto your fabric, then place your printed design on top of it.
  • Use a pencil to trace the design. Press firmly, but not hard enough to puncture the paper. Be sure that the papers do not shift while you are tracing – you can use a few pieces of tape to secure them. 

MAGIC METHOD (aka printable sticky-back water-soluble stabilizer)

This is by far the easiest and most precise method. It is a little pricier (usually about $1 per sheet) but I've gotten such great results with this material, it is definitely worth the cost. It works wonderfully for designs with a lot of detail and a lot of lines (like mine) or for stitching onto dark fabrics. It makes stitching easier by stabilizing your fabric, so it's good for stretch-knit fabrics (like tees), or felt. It's basically an 8.5x11 sheet of stabilizer that you can put right into your printer. Your design prints right onto it. Then just peel off the paper backing – the backside is sticky – and press it onto your fabric. Stitch right through both layers. Once you are done, soak it in a shallow pan of water, and the stabilizer dissolves away! It's fantastic stuff.

My favorite brand is Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy which comes in a pack of 12 sheets.

also, a few tips for the sticky stabilizer:

  • be sure to let the fabric soak in water for a while. I like to let it soak in the water bath for at least 30 minutes, or even a couple hours.
  • rinse very thoroughly. if any sticky stabilizer is left behind, it will leave crusty/sticky residue on your stitching. I usually lay the fabric in a clean colander and use the sprayer on my kitchen sink to rinse it really well.


When you are done, lightly spray with water to wash out any transfer marks that remain (or soak the stabilizer off, if you've used that method). Lay flat on a clean towel to air dry Once it's dry, you will probably want to iron it a little. Take care not to flatten your beautiful stitches! Find a clean fluffy towel and lay your work face-down onto it, then iron gently. The towel will cushion your stitches and protect them from the iron.


check out my stitch library here, and my getting started post here


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i believe small, simple acts of creativity can make the world a calmer, happier place. cozyblue helps you start one stitch at a time.