Transferring the embroidery pattern onto fabric is probably my least favourite part of the whole embroidery process…and when it has to be done on dark fabric, it’s even worse! Luckily, there are many tools out there to make this process easier. Embroidery on dark fabric can really look stunning, so don’t be discouraged by this part of the process! I’ll show 3 easy ways to successfully transfer your pattern on a dark fabric.
How do you transfer a pattern on dark fabric?
There are a few different methods and marking tools that you can try for transferring an embroidery pattern onto dark fabric. The best method will depend on the fabric type and weight, and how detailed your pattern is.
In this post, I will show you 3 different ways to successfully transfer a pattern onto dark fabric, using different fabrics and patterns. I will touch on the following materials:
- Carbon and Transfer Paper
- Light Source
- Dressmaker’s pencil
- White gel pen
- Steel-Ball Stylus
- Ballpoint pen
1. Transfer Your Pattern With Carbon or Transfer Paper
This is probably my favourite method for dark fabric. It’s also probably the easiest, if you can find good carbon paper, or transfer paper. Carbon paper has a waxy side and the transferred lines aren’t as easy to erase. Transfer paper, on the other hand, is cleaner and the lines are easy to remove. I’ve been using the wax-free DMC Transfer Paper made for embroidery, and really like it (you can find it on the DMC website). It comes in different colours, so you can choose a colour that will be visible on dark fabric, like this yellow. The marks easily rub off with a cloth, or even just with your finger. This is a bit of a downside since it means they don’t last very long, but there are solutions!
To transfer the pattern, start by placing the carbon/transfer paper colour side down against your fabric, and then tape your pattern over it.
Using a ballpoint pen or a steel-ball stylus, go over all the pattern lines, applying a good amount of pressure to transfer them. I like the stylus a lot since it’s “cleaner” than the pen, but the latter works really well too.
Peel back all the layers, and your pattern is transferred!
You will notice that the transferred lines, although visible, are a bit pale…And as soon as I pick up the hoop to stitch, they become even harder to see. As I mentioned earlier, the marks also rub off very easily. So, I would definitely recommend having a dressmaker’s pencil or white gelly roll pen at hand to go over the lines. The branch details on this particular pattern definitely needed a little help!
Different Marking Tools
I really like the white gel pen, but be mindful that the marks are really hard to remove. The dressmaker’s chalk pen is a better option if you think you’ll want to erase any lines later. Also, the gel pen doesn’t roll easily depending on your fabric choice. I used a dark blue linen fabric that is a bit loosely weaved for this transfer, and had a bit of trouble getting the pen to glide. Since the pattern isn’t too detailed though, it works just fine for what I needed.
*The products I’ve linked are not affiliate links, just genuine recommendations of tools I enjoy using.
2. Transferring a Pattern With Chalk
A quick alternative to the carbon or transfer paper if you don’t have any is to use some chalk instead. Print or create a reverse version of your pattern, and go over it with chalk. I’m using a piece of white tailor’s chalk (used for marking fabric), and going over the pattern lines very generously. This doesn’t have to be precise, you just want to make sure to go over all the lines. I’m using a thicker, dark purple cotton for the fabric.
Place your pattern reverse side down against the fabric, and go over it again with a pencil or stylus. You don’t need to apply as much pressure as with the transfer paper since there’s one less layer.
Pattern transferred! Again though, the lines are rather pale, so I suggest going over it with the gel pen.
3. Transfer your Pattern With a Light Source
I’ve covered how to transfer a pattern using a window or a lightbox before in this post, and you can do exactly the same thing if your dark fabric is lightweight and transparent enough. The green cotton I’m using here worked really well with a window, since it’s see-through enough. The sun was really strong that day and I could see my pattern lines clearly, although it doesn’t show in the picture.
All you need to do is tape your pattern to a window or light box, and then tape your fabric over it. Transfer the pattern with the gelly roll pen or dressmaker’s pencil (or any other marking tool you can see on dark fabric), and you’re done! The dressmaker’s pencil worked better with this fabric type here.
Embroidery on dark fabric is certainly a little trickier to prep and a little harder on the eyes to work with, but it’s definitely worth it. I hope you found this post helpful and that you will be inspired to stitch something on dark fabric now that you know how to easily transfer your pattern!
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