beginning stitching - stitching
Fancy herringbone for a tree

transfer methods

Transfer collage

A few weeks ago I ordered a parcel from sublime stitching so that I could try out some other transfer methods.  The main reason I ordered from them was a new fine line iron on transfer pen.

I have a sulky iron on transfer pen which gives lines that I find too thick to use with my patterns, certainly they can't be covered by two strands of thread, so I was quite excited by the idea of a fine line pen.  I also ordered some of her tracing paper, which is a thick vellum, and some black and white carbon paper along with a stylus.

Transfer pen 1

So to begin with the iron on transfer pen.  The idea is that you trace the design onto the vellum paper (eliminating the need for a light box) and then place the vellum ink side down on top of your fabric and iron the design onto your fabric.  The vellum is  nice and thick but you can still see the design well.  The pen is smooth to work with, just like a drawing pen really.

Transfer pen 2

I was very conscious of being very careful with the initial tracing because the design is permanent once it is on your fabric so you need your original tracing to be perfect.  I used a design that was fairly similar whichever way around you use it, but if you have a design with writing on it you need to make sure that you are tracing a reversed image so that when you iron it on it will be the right way around


Transfer pen 4

this is the traced design, the lines are pretty fine (not quite as fine as the frixion pen).  I was lazy about the stripes on her sleeves and I don't want stripes on her boots. 

Transfer pen fabric

Ta Dah!  I used a hot iron and held it in place rather than moving it across the design so that nothing moved.  The boots are actually clearer than they look I didn't iron them properly but there was enough there for me to see for stitching.

Transfer pen 5

Next I did something daft... I was going to transfer another girl to show you the second print from the same transfer but I ironed the wrong side of the vellum, which stops it from working!  So I drew the little string of hearts above.  A is the first image, B the second and C the third.  At a push you could stitch the third.  Perhaps a gentler ironing the first time might mean the ink lasts longer.

Transfer pen 6

and finally two strands of thread covers the line nicely.

Overall I was pleased with the results of the fine liner pen.  You get a smooth and even line and it prints onto the fabric well.  With this method you don't need a light box and you can get two or more prints from one tracing.

The pen and tracing paper are only available in the USA at the moment as far as I know but please let me know if you find a UK stockist.  I got mine (along with the carbon paper and stylus) directly from Sublime Stitching and I think it took just over a week to arrive.

Carbon 1

The second method I tried was black carbon paper with a stylus.  The stylus is a rather nice wooden pen type thing with a metal point and ball at each end (see above) one end is smaller than the other.  I chose to use the smaller end to give a finer line.

With this method you place your fabric down first then the carbon paper on top with the ink face down and finally your design on the top of the pile.  Now just trace the pattern using the stylus and quite a lot of pressure.

Carbon 2

I really liked the end results of this method, the line is finer and a bit less marked than the transfer pen.  It is more like a pencil or biro mark.  But I found the carbon paper harder to use.

It requires concentration, especially with a complex pattern, so you can't be distracted by fire engines going past your work room window because when you look back it's harder to tell which lines you've traced.  I also found that if I lifted the carbon paper to check that it was tracing properly it was difficult not to move it slightly.  You do need to put quite a bit of pressure on it.

Carbon 3

But I loved the end result.  The lines are easy to cover and are clear.

I would be more inclined to use this method, despite it's difficulties than the transfer pen.

I did also try out the white carbon paper on grey fabric with less success

Carbon white

the lines really aren't clear enough.  I suspect they would be clearer on black fabric but unfortunately I don't have any at the moment so I will try the white again when I have some darker fabric.

Overall I was happy with both methods but I think I still prefer to use a light box and a non permanent marker.  But I would definitely recommend the above methods if you don't have a light box, especially the carbon paper.

The downside for some may be that you still have to carefully trace the design in the first place.  But there is a product (thank you stitch 'n' dye :)) that allows you to print the design straight onto the fabric - sulky's sticky fabri solvi

I haven't tried this yet but I'm quite excited by the idea so that will be my next test I think.

Anything that makes the transferring easier!

The carbon sheets are available in the UK here

I would love to know more about the methods you have most success with