One of the first things to consider when learning how to embroider is how to transfer your chosen design onto the fabric. There are a few different methods that you can use and the method you choose will depend on the thickness of your fabric.
If you are a beginner, my advice is to choose a light-colored fabric so that it is easy to see through the fabric when transferring the design.
Cream homespun fabric is a popular choice for Redwork enthusiasts, although always embroider on a quality fabric that will stand up to laundering, particularly if you plan to incorporate your design into a quilt. Don’t be tempted to opt for a cheaper fabric, it may come back to haunt you at a later time.
Your design can be transferred using a well lit window or light box. A glass coffee table with a light source underneath is also good if you are lucky enough to have one in your home. It is a good idea to tape your design so that it does not slip, check to make sure it is straight. Next place your fabric over the design and tape it as well so that the grain is straight. Trace using a water washable marker pen (the markers with a fine tip are best), or a sharp, soft lead pencil.
Keep in mind that the markings will need to be removed at a later stage so don’t be heavy handed. The markings will appear darker once removed from the light source.
Another tip is to check that you are tracing onto the right side of your fabric, if you are using a cream homespun this is not a concern because both sides are the same, but if you have chosen a light colored fabric with a pattern double check the right side.
I traced a very detailed embroidery design onto a piece of a fabric for a medallion quilt a few years ago, only to discover that I had traced onto the back. Thankfully it was not obvious and so I incorporated my mistake into the quilt. Up until now my mistake was my secret, but now I have shared it with you so that it can serve as a reminder to check, check and then double check.
For more information about transferring hand embroidery designs click here. I’m looking forward to sharing some more tips on how to embroider very soon.