Tracing with a Lightbox: Transferring Patterns to Fabric
One of the first steps for working on an embroidery pattern is transferring the design to your fabric. There are lots of different methods of doing this – which is great (lots of options, woo hoo!) but that can also make it quite daunting for beginners (how on earth do you know which one to use?!).
But don’t worry, I’m here to help! I'm going to teach you one of my favourite (and in my opinion, easiest) ways to transfer patterns onto fabric: using a lightbox.
So let's get started!
Quick and easy
Works on light or see-through fabrics
Pen lines removable
Works day + night
Pen lines clear and visible
No need to stitch through an extra layer
Doesn’t work on dark or thick fabrics
Drawing skills required
Additional cost of lightbox
Power source required (usually)
There are some fantastic and affordable lightboxes on the market, which you can use for pattern transfer. They are also called a lightboard or lightpad. This method great for light coloured fabrics which you can see through to trace.
IN A NUTSHELL: Tape your printed design template to the lightbox, lay your fabric over top and secure that in place, then trace over the design.
Attach template to dressed hoop: Dress your hoop (i.e. mount your fabric tightly in the hoop and trim away any excess fabric), then cut out your template to size. Place your template face-down, on the top-side of your hoop, in your desired position (usually this would be the centre). Then secure it into place with clear sticky tape. Now your template is nicely secured to your fabric and you don’t have to worry about it moving around when you trace it.
Position hoop on lightbox: Turn on the lightbox and position your hoop on top of it, facing down.
Tip to trace onto loose fabric instead: If you prefer, you can dress your hoop after the tracing step. In this case, you would place your paper template on the lightbox, lay your fabric over, and secure them both into place with clear tape, then do the tracing step. Personally, I find it easier to trace onto stretched fabric rather than loose fabric, even if it’s taped down.
Trace: With the light shining up through the template, you should be able to easily see the design clearly on your fabric. So go ahead a trace the template onto the underside of your fabric.
Remove Template:Once you’ve traced the entire design, you can remove the paper template from your fabric.
Rehoop Fabric (optional):You can either rehoop your fabric (so that the design is on the topside of your hoop) or stitch your design on the underside of the hoop – whichever works for you is fine.
I hope that this guide has made it easy and fun for you to transfer your patterns onto your material, without being overwhelmed.
I encourage you to practice transferring your pattern on with different techniques, and you’ll find a favourite method that you can easily whip out each time you start a new project.