Friday, May 02, 2008

Making Your Own Embroidery Design and Transferring to Dark Fabric

Yesterday I planned and embroidered the design for a rosary pouch for my nephew's First Communion present. I took pictures along the way to explain the process for those who may be interested in hand embroidery.

Using your own designs to embroider is actually really easy, whether you draw freehand or find pictures or clipart online. My article here will address this in more depth if you'd like more info. But the basic procedure is to find the shape you're looking for using a google images search, and then trace it.

This design actually came from a picture of someone's tattoo on their ankle. I searched "cross outline" and was lucky to find just the simplified shape I was looking for. I have tracing software called Pre-Design, but it would be simple enough to print out the actual picture and use tracing paper. Or even just hold paper to the screen and trace the shape, with a design this simple.

To transfer to dark colored fabric, you'll need dressmaker's tracing paper. It comes in a pack of lots of colors, and it's crazy useful. It's also not very expensive, and it lasts forever. I've been using this pack since I learned to sew 9 years ago.

Layer the tracing paper on the fabric, chalky side down, then place the design picture on top. After that, simply go over the lines of the design with a pencil, and everywhere you trace will put a line on your fabric, just like carbon paper.

Here is the design after it has been transfered to the fabric. You can also see where my hands rubbed chalk onto the fabric from the transfer paper while I was tracing. That's no big deal because these lines are not permanent and can be rubbed away pretty easily. If you use this method for a complicated design, I'd suggest basting over all your lines first thing to make them more permanent while doing your embroidery.

Here I've marked the parimeters of the pouch and hooped the fabric in an embroidery hoop. One tip I have on hooping that seems so simple, but took me forever to figure out (maybe I'm just slow?) is to have the tightening screw on the upper left part of the design. Because I'm right handed, my thread is mostly to the lower or upper right while I embroider. By paying attention to where the screw is, and making sure it'll mostly be out of my way, I get tangled up on it much less.

Later today, I'm planning to update with the finished embroidery and a how to on making the zippered pouch. Any questions or suggestions on transferring designs or making them from clipart?

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