Water-Soluble Stabiliser: 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 ways to transfer patterns (especially dark coloured fabric and clothing) - water-soluble stabiliser.
So let's get started!
Also works on dark or thick fabrics
Template lines clear and visible
Template lines removable
Works day + night
Great for complex designs (if printing)
No drawing skills required (if printing)
Stabiliser can be helpful (e.g. stretchy/delicate fabrics)
Additional cost of the stabiliser
Stitching with stabiliser can be challenging
Requires wetting your work
This method is fantastic if you don’t want to hand-draw or trace your design! It’s also my preferred option for dark or thick fabrics which you can’t see through to trace. And I know it’s the go-to method for some embroidery artists, no matter what type of fabric they’re using.
IN A NUTSHELL: Print or trace your design onto a wash-away stabiliser, cut it out and stick it to the top-side of your dressed hoop. Then stitch your design through both layers, and rinse off the stabiliser at the end.
You will need:
Water-Soluble Stabiliser (my fav is Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy – I’ve used it many times with great success!)
Dressed hoop (e.g. fabric mounted tightly in the hoop and excess fabric trimmed off)
Transfer pen OR printer
Draw or Print: Trace or print your design on a sheet of water-soluble stabiliser. To do this, simply place a sheet of stabiliser over the top of your printed design (or as viewed on your screen). The sheet should be transparent enough for you to see the design and trace over it. Or print the template directly onto the sheet. Use your regular transfer pen or a normal pen for this process. If you have concerns about the pen or printer ink bleeding into your work, I suggest doing a small test piece before hand to ensure it washes away cleanly.
Cut out:Now cut out your design into a patch or circle, leaving a margin of at least 1⁄2 an inch (10mm).
Stick:Remove the backing, and smooth the patch (sticky side down) to the front-side of your dressed hoop, in the middle. If you find that it’s not sticking so well, you can work a ‘basting stitch’ around the outline of the patch – in other words, do a simple Running Stitch to hold it in place, and remove this completely at the end (I didn’t find this step necessary).
Now your template has been transferred to your pattern and you can move to the next step of making your pattern, fantastic work!
As you stitch your pattern, you'll need to stitch through both layers (the fabric and the stabiliser). This can be a bit challenging at times, so make sure you have a sharp decent-sized needle. You can wipe it down if it gets residue from the stabiliser on it. And persevere because it's so worth it!
How to rinse off the stabiliser at the end:Immerse the entire area in lukewarm water. Wait a few moments, and you’ll see the stabiliser become more see-through and dissolvable. You can now gently use your fingers to rub away the stabiliser patch, and most will come off really easily. Sometimes the bits right beside the stitches need a gentle rub to encourage them off. It helps if you have some gently running water for this part, so that you can easily see where the bits of stabiliser remain. Once it looks like all of the stabiliser has been removed, give it a final rinse under gentle running water. Then gently pat away the dripping water between towels, and leave it flat to dry.