Transferring Embroidery Patterns – Sew Basically..

A lot of people have asked me how I transfer my embroidery designs, so here’s a little tutorial! It’s very quick and basic so if you have any questions, just ask! This is how I’ve transferred my designs since I’ve started stitching. I’ve tried other methods, and this is the cheapest and quickest way I’ve found how to do it!



  • Fabric cutting scissors – stop cutting your fabric with your little tiny thread cutting scissors. Don’t lie, I know you do it all the time too, we all do! Mine are cute and from Target.
  • Your choice of embroidery fabric. I use micro cotton twill fabric for my pet portraits, but I love using fabric I find at secondhand shops that have a good texture.
  • An embroidery hoop to stretch your fabric in.
  • Some sort of tape – we’ll get to that later.
  • A FriXion pen*. We will talk about why these are the best for embroidery transfers in a bit too. I’m using a blue one for this tutorial, but they come in black, red, and some other colors too!

Size up your design

You want to make sure your embroidery will be able to fit in your hoop! Make sure it fits exactly how you’ll want it to look in the end. Don’t let your design get too close to the edges. Remember, your fabric will have some stretch and that can make the design warp a little bit when you’re stretching it in your hoop.

Tape your fabric to your computer screen

Okay. I KNOW this is weird but stay with me. This is amazing because your screen is bright and makes your own personal light box! Plus you can do this any time of the day, even at night! Which is way better than waiting for a sunny day to window transfer a pattern. Why not just use an actual light box? I mean – I would love to! I just don’t have that kind of money and I hate wasting ink and paper.

I also use painters tape or washi tape so it’s more gentle on my computer screen. PLEASE don’t use duct tape (oh my god) or anything like that. Be sensible! Treat your electronics safely!


Trace it with your FriXion pen

Don’t push really hard or you might damage your screen. My computer is old and sturdy as a brick so I’m not worried. I just trace the general shapes I see, and afterward I do little touch-ups if needed. If I have a really complicated design, I use different colors of pens to trace different areas. For example, here I could have used a blue pen to trace the pup, and a red pen to outline the flowers.

Get stitchin’ !


Woo hoo! We transferred our design! If you messed up a part of the pattern, you can just erase it on the fabric with your pen and redraw it (if your fabric is sturdy enough). This obviously isn’t going to work very well on darker fabrics, and fabrics that are really heavily patterned you might need to squint a lot to see what you’re tracing. There can be a whole different tutorial on transferring patterns on those types of fabrics!



When you’re done, all you have to do is either blast your work with a hairdryer (I do this if there’s a lot of sticky-up bits I don’t want to flatten like roses) or use an iron on a low setting, and the pen marks disappear! Your work is left completely clean no matter how many sketchy lines you started with* 🙂

*Note: However, if you scribbled a lot in an area and have a lot of dark ink on your fabric, it may leave behind some slight discoloration. 

I’m told that if you put your work in a freezer or somewhere really cold, the marks will come back! I haven’t tried this yet but I will soon and report back.

So there’s my super lazy but effective way of transferring embroidery patterns! Please use common sense and don’t put something like duct tape on your monitor or press really hard while tracing. Be gentle and loving in all that you do!

Happy transferring!

*FriXion pens are not designed to be used on fabric so do so at your own risk! 😉

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