Friday, March 2, 2012

Tutorial: Pattern transfer with water soluble pen

&Stitches tutorials
We're working on some tutorials on the basics and we'd love to know: how can we help? What would you like to know? Please leave a comment with any questions or suggestions. Or email us if you like!

Here's the first in that series: pattern transfer using a water soluble pen
Pattern transfer - water soluble pen
This is the method both Nicole and I use the most, it's easy to do, you don't really need any special equipment and you don't need to remember to flip patterns and such.

What you need:
• a print of the pattern you want to stitch
• fabric
• a water soluble pen (comes out when you rinse the piece in cold water)
• sticky tape - Japanese masking tape is good, it won't leave any marks
• a window or light box
- you can buy light boxes or make one from a clear storage crate with a bright light placed inside (but no so bright that it'll melt the box!)

Tape the pattern to the window or light box, then tape the fabric on top of the pattern and then you simply trace it with the water soluble pen. And that's it! If you do want a reversed version of the pattern, simply flip the printed pattern before you you tape it to the window.

If you use a window, then obviously you'll have to do the pattern transfer during daylight!

Remember to rinse out the markings before you iron your piece! Ironing can set the markings on the fabric permanently.

Pattern transfer - water soluble pen
Here's another view of the materials I used. You should be able to find this type of pen in most embroidery or sewing shops whether online or brick&mortar. My pen is from Hemline, Clover makes a similar one.

Online search for: water soluble pen, water erasable pen - sometimes it's called a marker instead of a pen.


  1. transferring onto fabrics you can't trace through - like faces on felt

    also interfacings/stabilisers for hand embroidery, what kind, when and how to apply!

    Thanks, the basics are so important to getting really top notch results.

  2. Thanks for this tutorial! The best way to go about transfering a pattern is a common problem for me. Especially for complicated designs.
    I would like to know if there is a way to have patterns printed directly onto fabric. I've tried several methods and none work very well!

    1. We'd love a method to print on fabric too - we'll report in full if we find a way to do that! :-)

  3. I'd like to see stitch how to's as well please!!

    1. Stand by for stitch how-tos in the near future. :-)

  4. Use them all the time, only way to go in my book. BUT no heat with the iron also means DO NOT leave project in car during hot summer months............ have gotten it out of some things and not out of others after projects were riding around in the car for a week, month or two ???(you know that "disorganized, messy stitcher" thing combined crafty ADD (i.e. lots of projects going at one time and none finished).....! :-(

    1. Oh that is a very good tip! Sorry you've had projects ruined by the sun..!


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