Embroidery Design Transfer Tutorial

I’ve been printing my designs directly onto fabric since I heard about the technique and thought it would be a good topic for a tutorial.  I’m sure there are many other ways to do this, most of which are probably more finicky, with proper measurements and such; this is my way.. personal flaws included. 🙂

**A note about fabric:  I have been using linen and muslin in my printer.  I have noticed a marked difference in how the printer handles each type of fabric.  It seems that for my printer, the thicker the fabric is (linen) the smoother it’s fed through the printer rollers.  The muslin is the one that tends to get caught most often, though I have had outstanding success with each.

Let’s get started!

You will need:
♥ Hot iron (set to temperature for your fabric)
♥ Freezer paper
♥ Ruler
♥ Scissors
♥ Fabric
♥ Digital Design
♥ Cutting surface
♥ Rotary Cutter (optional!)
♥ 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. (optional!)

Here I have everything laid out:


The first step is to cut your fabric to about 8.5 x 11.  I could measure it exactly but then I would not have an overage in case of accidents.  Plus, exact measurements are kind of a downer. I like to eye ball things. It’s not always the best use of resources but that’s how I roll.

Paper laid on fabric for cutting

Once the fabric is cut out, I then cut out the freezer paper in the same way.

Cutting paper is serious bizness!

The freezer paper roll is wider than 16″ so laying out a piece of freezer paper and cutting it to the 11″-ish length, I can get enough for two sheets across.

Now it’s time to put the two together by using our very hot iron.

Shiny side to fabric is essential to the whole thing!

Place the shiny side of the freezer paper against the fabric and iron directly onto the paper.  I find that a couple of passes will do the trick.  You just want to make sure you go over the whole thing at least once.  Don’t worry about freezer paper that overlaps onto your ironing board.  It will peel right up!

See? Peels up, no problem!

Now that you have your paper stuck to your fabric, you will want to get it ready for the printer.

Fancy measuring tools don’t mean a thing to me…

I line up the printer paper and just zing away with the rotary cutter. Whee!!!  After it’s cut I lay down my chosen size embroidery hoop and check out the area I am going to want my design to reside in.  I call that the “sweet spot”.

I’m aiming for the middle of the page.

How the fabric feeds through the printer will determine where on the fabric your design will wind up.  I’ve had the whole shebang get stuck in the printer and when that happens I yank it out (probably shouldn’t) and then zippity do, cut the ruined bit off and try again with a version of the design that will fit my now smaller fabric paper.

Before we get to putting our fabric into the printer, I always do a design test.  This printed out version is where I make all my pattern notes while stitching.

Yep, fits just right!

**Note that I first save my design and then insert it into a word program like Open Office and position it to where I’d like it to print out on the paper.  For smaller designs it’s possible to fit two images in one printing.

Ok, here we go!  Put your fabric paper into the printer so that when it feeds, the fabric side will get the ink. Mine happens to be fabric down.

That cute lumberjack was a gift from Oma’s Patch!

This is always the hairiest moment. Will the printer grab the paper right? Will it get caught right off the bat? Will the corner bend? Will the ink leave lines?  *Biting nails*


Perhaps hard to see, but trust me when I say the top of those owl ears are showing. It worked exactly as I expected it to!  Now all we need to do is pull the fabric off the paper…

Thanks to my volunteers!

And now you have a completed design, on your fabric, perfectly detailed and ready for stitching!


Your mileage may vary, but I do believe following these instructions should net you a nice result. 🙂

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

♥ I adjust the opacity of the design before printing it so my lines are not black. Ideally I want to be able to just see them well enough to stitch over, but not have them so dark that they show through my stitches.

♥ Some fabric tends to fray at the edges even after it’s been cut cleanly with a rotary cutter. Be sure you don’t have any threads straggling when you put the fabric paper into the printer.

♥ You can iron the fabric side of the hybrid to be sure you have a good “seal” but I find that it will then leave residue on my iron.

♥ If you are going to print a color design, I find that I need to adjust the saturation of the image in a graphics program first.  My printer tends to print colors duller than they appear on the computer so I turn the saturation up quite a bit.  My Embellished Flower Hoop was made using this method.

I hope you have success with this tutorial. Please feel free to ask questions if you have them, I’d be happy to help if I can.   I’d love to hear how it works for you!   Feel free to share any tips, tricks, or other methods you have for design transfer via printers.

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