What a dilemma! I have tried many a suggestion for the best way to hand embroider a pattern on to dark or thick fabric and many have ended up with some choice words being thrown around and telling myself it would look better on white anyway!
Basically, if its a lot of work or involves a lot of delay in the actual stitching part then its already on my suspicious list. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not lazy and I like things to be done right but transferring for me has to be 2 things…
I’ve tried Prick and Pounce (don’t get me started on that one!), chalk pens, white gel pens, carbon paper, stitch n tear…. this list could go on! (If you use any of these, like them and are successful then all well and good but for me, they just didn’t hit the spot!)
Many of you will have heard of the wonderful ‘sticky fabri solvy’ (SFS) and the many fabulous reviews from fellow stitchers. I am one of those converts and love this stuff!
It transformed my stitching on to felt as it was just a case of tracing, sticking and stitching, washing off and wohoo – fabulous result every time.
BUT (there is always a but!) I found I still had issues using SFS with dark fabric. You print your wonderful design on to the SFS, stick it on to your black fabric and you can’t see the design even with the best light.
So, I realised I had to draw over the design (boring but necessary), if I wanted to stitch without ruining my eye sight and sanity! This sounds straightforward until you trace over and stitch and then realise the pen you used stains your lovely threads when you wash the SFS off. I did this and was so upset after all my hard work!
So, to save future projects, I did a little experiment using different pens on SFS using white thread to see which ones stained the least…
Example 1: Triplus Fineliner (3 vertical lines on left) , Gel Pen (3 vertical lines on right), Fine Sharpie (4 horizontal lines top and bottom)…
Of those 3 the Gel Pen was the winner!
Example 2: From Left to right there are 3 vertical rows of each of the following fine line black pens… Biro, Staedler Lumicolour, Frixion Pen, Pilot Drawing Pen
From these 4 lines, the photo makes it look like they all came out great but the winner was the Frixion Pen (the biro was the worst, followed by the Staedler and then the Pilot).
My overall opinion and trust from doing that was to go with the Frixion Pen.
So, for me, the best way to transfer a pattern on to a dark fabric is using SFS and a red Frixion Pen- either print the design on and then trace over this with the Frixion Pen or trace directly with the Frixion.
Here’s my design ready to be stitched with this method… Easy to see and stitch – yay!
Take a look at the design finished above (top picture) and you can see there has been no transfer of the red pen to the threads when it was soaked.
Hopefully this will save you some stress and heartache if you want to hand embroider on Black fabric!
When I started out in Embroidery I was fascinated by the amount of information out there and as a beginner you can be quickly overwhelmed by the what’s why’s and how to’s of Hand Embroidery!
Here I have detailed 7 Must have Hand Embroidery supplies I feel are necessary to make your piece of work as good as it can be, let’s go…
Ooooh, I love fabric!
Nothing makes your work stand out better than the fabric you choose to stitch on. Having a bit of a fabric addiction, I can safely say I have tried a whole variety of different ones as its great to see the impact it actually does have on the finished piece. Believe me, its surprising but very true.
Some of my favourites…
100% wool Felt, 100% Klona Cotton, Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton, Robert Kaufman Essex Linen, Pre Shrunk Calico
Beautiful Threads ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
There are so many delicious Threads to stitch with so don’t just get in the habit of sticking with what you know. DMC and Anchor have a fabulous array of colours in stranded, perle, soft cotton but there are so many different types to try as well in different fibres and lots of exciting colours from many different manufacturers.
There are many different types of Embroidery Needle. They come in many sizes – the larger the number, the thinner the needle will be.
Crewel or Embroidery Needles are the best type for Hand Embroidery – they are medium sized in length with a sharp point and a long eye (this allows more than one strand of embroidery floss to be threaded at the same time).
I find a size 7 is my most used and go for a quality make as it makes all the difference. John James needles are excellent in my humble opinion!
It’s that ‘Q’ word again – Quality! This is just my personal view based on many a stitching project!
For a quick and simple set up and stitch – the ones I like to stitch with are Elbesee Hoops – great price, great quality and by far the best I have come across so far.
For more detailed, time consuming projects I love my Elbesee Seat frame as I have 2 hands free to stitch and its a bit quicker.
Other frames you could use include the following …
Q snap Frames – Not for me, I tried this but didn’t find it a comfortable stitch experience and was constantly having to turn the ribbed clamps to tighten as I stitched.
Spring Embroidery Hoop – perhaps these are better for machine embroidery. I tried these thinking they would be great but for me the tension just wasn’t tight enough for hand stitching.
Flexi Hoops – I love these for framing my work at the end as they make them look fabulous!
Sulky sticky Fabri Solvy water soluble Stabilser
There are a multitude of ways to transfer your hand embroidery design to your fabric but this is my ‘go to’ design transfer method if I want quick results, am using dark or thick fabric, or if the design is really intricate and fiddly to draw.
If you have not tried this then you must give it a go, you will never look back! You can purchase single sheets from my Etsy shop.
I am a firm believer in stabiliser fabric being a necessity in Hand Embroidery unless you are using Wool Felt or similar which is thick enough to support your stitches on its own.
All you need is some Calico – I use this one as I find it lovely and soft and a nice weight.
Benefits of using a stabilser fabric behind your main fabric are…
Adds support to your stitches
Hides the threads at the back if you are a bit messy!
Gives you an easy way to start off and finish your thread
Makes your work look so much better at the end
A Fun and Inspiring Pattern
Possibly the most important choice you will have is your pattern. Make sure you choose something that you really like and that excites you otherwise you will give up before you finish!
We all have our favourite things – mine are dogs and rabbits – so I absolutely love stitching these and am always excited to see the end result.
Make sure it is achievable for your skill set and is easy to follow with lots of pictures. A great hand embroidery pattern can be ruined by a frustrating and badly written pattern so choose wisely! Pick something you love the look of and can follow and it will be a joy to stitch from start to finish.
Take a look at the hand embroidery patterns in my shop for some inspiration to get you stitching… StitchDoodles Shop