When I first began embroidering, I tried different ways of getting my image onto fabric. I traced directly onto fabric with a pencil, but that only works with very light-colored fabric; pretty much only muslin. Sometimes I draw directly onto the fabric, but that’s typically too tricky for anything at all complex, so when I embroidered poetry onto my jeans, I used paper stabilizer. I didn’t enjoy picking out all the little pieces from under my stitches, though. Since then I’ve mainly been using an iron-on transfer pen, and I really love that method. I take my own drawings, reverse them, trace over them with the pen, and I can iron them onto the working fabric. However, again, that doesn’t work with darker fabrics.
The thing about stabilizers, though, is that I don’t like anything between me and the fabric I’m embroidering. And while partly that’s a “feel” thing, it’s also a sight thing. While I often have an idea of what colors I want to use when I begin, I like to see how the colors are working together on the piece, and I need to see how they’re working with the fabric, too. Stitching onto anything that replaces the fabric background with white prevents me from checking out the interplay as I go. It’s like stitching blind, as far as I’m concerned.
So, over the past few days, I experimented with using Sulky Solvy, which is clear, so I can see through it, and dissolves away in water, so I don’t have to use tweezers to pick out itty bitty pieces when I’m done stitching. (Knitters, you think weaving in ends is a sure way to kill the joy of knitting? Picking out pieces of paper with tweezers is worse.) I still need to get the pattern onto the stabilizer, and although it said I could iron it on if I didn’t use steam, that really didn’t work–the stabilizer began to bubble almost immediately. So I simply traced my pattern with a red permanent marker (because, remember, it’ll be getting wet later). I used red because I was stitching on denim.
This is what one of my pieces looked like in the hoop:
My tracing came out a bit wiggly and freehand, so I simply stitched it the way it ought to be. Since the red isn’t actually on the fabric, I don’t have to worry about covering it all up, like I do with the iron-on transfer pen. You can barely tell the stabilizer is over the denim, visually. Here’s a close-up:
I need to see my background material, especially with the darker colors, to make sure the colors I’m using look the way I want them to.
Here’s a finished stitched piece after I rinsed the stabilizer away:
I’m pleased with this. The stitches don’t seem to be any worse for the wear for having had stabilizer between them and the fabric, and while I was concerned that the marker might somehow still transfer to the stitches, I see no evidence of that. The only challenge I see is making sure I use a color that will show up against darker fabric.
So, fellow stitchers…how do you solve the problem of transferring patterns to darker fabrics?