One of the first steps for working on an embroidery pattern is transferring the design to your fabric. But what do you do when the fabric is so dark or thick that you can’t see through it to trace the template?
This can be a real challenge as it eliminates many tracing techniques.
Here are some quick top tips on this topic:
Use a tracing method if you can: Before you move on, I recommend that you double check – can you see through your dark fabric well enough to use one of these tracing methods:
Honestly, it’s so much less hassle to trace using methods 1-3, at both the transferring and stitching stage. So grab the strongest light source you have and re-evaluate if the template is visible. You might be surprised! Additionally, test the transfer pen you plan to use – sometimes even a black pen can still be visible enough on dark fabric. But please note: some heat erasable pens leave a residue or outline after removal, which can be really visible on dark fabric. So be sure to test your pen’s visibility and removability against your fabric first!
For example, even though this lovely cotton fabric is quite dark, I can still see through it just enough to trace the pattern. And the dark black lines of the Pilot Frixion pen show up just enough for me to see, especially if I go over them a few times. So in this case, I could actually proceed with tracing with a black heat erasable pen, rather than investing in supplies such as wash-away stabiliser, carbon transfer paper, or a white pen. I’ll just need to be sure to cover all the pen marks with stitches.
Reverse the template: If you’re able to reverse the template so that it’s white lines against black, you may find this easier to see for the tracing stage. See the images below for a comparison between the two options.
Use a white pen for more visible lines: If the lines of your pen aren’t so visible against the dark fabric, then go over them with a white pen (if you can get your hands on one!). Below is an example that compares carbon paper, a white permanent pen, and a heat-erasable white pen.
TIP: If you use a pen that’s a different colour to the template, you’ll be able to easily see which lines you’ve traced over. I’m using a white pen here and it works a treat!
You're going to have so much fun transferring your pattern onto dark fabric and bringing your embroidery to life! These tips are sure to make this process so much easier for you.
However, if you try these tips and are still having trouble with a tracing option, here are my preferred options for transferring your pattern into dark fabric: