Kimberly Servello's Embroidery Blog

Kimberly Servello - Pattern Drawer and Embroideress

Friday, October 28, 2011

Transferring Patterns On To Dark Fabric : Enchanted Castle of Marvels Shawl

Success!  The design has been transferred on to dark chocolate colored linen!  It always surprises me how much more delicate designs look once they're drawn on to the linen.  Some of the delicacy will be lost due to the 'weight' the embroidery will add to it.  A small price to pay considering the beauty it will add as well.

I designed this shawl last Autumn, but was hesitant to attempt transferring an embroidery pattern on to dark linen.  The October Eves Scarf I made was done not only to test the threads on a linen / rayon combination fabric, but also to test design transfer.  I used a black micron pen to transfer the scarf design, much to my regret!  It seemed like a good idea.   I used an extra thick pen and the design was easy to see, until I mounted it on the slate frame and shone my halogen stitching light on it.  Since it was a fairly small design I was able to work with it, but knew it wouldn't work for a large piece like the shawl. 

 I tested several white pens and pencils until I found one that worked - the White Marking Pen by Clover (fine tip).  The instructions say that it washes or irons out.  I found that it washed out, but when I ironed it, the line turned black and became permanent.  It may work differently on pure linen.   For my purpose a permanent pen isn't a problem since my stitches entirely cover the drawn lines.  Another thing to keep in mind when searching for a transfer pen is that the drawn line doesn't appear until the ink has dried with this pen.  I didn't find it to be a problem, but I imagine some people might.

I had a little difficulty transferring the pattern only because I chose to skip the step where I transfer my paper drawing to transfer paper.  At the time I didn't realize that transfer paper is available in rolls!   I used a light box and transferring was difficult only because the art paper didn't allow as much light to come through, so I added many of the motifs free-hand, which worked out fine.  It was the main vines that were really important for placement and I could see those.

To transfer the pattern on to the linen, I affixed the paper pattern to the linen using, surprisingly, masking tape!  I simply centered the design on the back of the fabric, used straight pins to keep it in place while I applied the masking tape to all four sides.  Because my light box is small (about 11" x 11") I constantly had to slide the fabric and pattern across the board.  Everything stayed in place perfectly.


  1. That is going to be so beautiful! I can't wait to see how it turns out.
    Mary Martin

  2. I am so excited about this project! It's lovely!

  3. Well done - transferring the design is always the bit I find most worrying.

  4. What a job!
    Where can you get transfer paper in rolls?

  5. Elmsley - I got it from DickBlick Art Supplies.....

  6. I have been tutoring embroidery for many years & I use a white gel pen for tracing onto dark fabrics with huge success. It eventually lightens with use & can be ironed without turning a different colour, & seems to wash out in due time. Give it a try.
    Lynette Hale.

  7. Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for your suggestion - I did a quick Google search and it appears that there are no white gel pens specifically for pattern transfer to fabric, so I assume you mean regular gel pens (for writing on paper). Am I correct?


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