Stitching a drawing
You’ve just done the most amazing design in your sketchbook and it is begging to be stitched. Mmm, now how to get that paper image on to a suitable piece of fabric?
There are lots of ways to transfer a drawing from paper to fabric for stitching and embroidery. In this post I am going to show you the three simple methods that I use most often. Which one I go for depends on:
- the time of year,
- whether I have an electricity point to hand,
- how complicated the image is,
- whether I want to have a permanent drawn line on my fabric,
- and the type of fabric that I want to work with.
Finding your image
As I have mentioned in previous posts I try to draw in my sketchbook every day. Not only is it a workout and practice session it is also my way of problem solving, telling stories and generating ideas for further work. When a drawing evolves that is asking to be stitched (and I don’t want to go freehand on the fabric) the next step is to transfer it.
Using a sunny window
This method is weather dependant but if you, like me, are lucky enough to have a sun facing window you can simply stick your page on to the glass with masking tape, place the fabric over the top and with whichever tool you intend to use, draw over the image.
The advantages of this method is that it will only cost you a roll of masking tape. The disadvantages, other than requiring the sun which for some of us is in short supply at certain times of the year, is that the fabric needs to be relatively light coloured, not too thick and probably not patterned. It works very well with pale coloured cottons such as the unbleached, medium weight calico I’ve shown in the picture above.
It doesn’t work if you have drawn on the reverse of the paper as the light will pick up the lines from images on both sides of the page (unless you are going for something weird and wacky and probably semi abstract!).
Using a light box/pad
I have to say that one of the best and most used Christmas presents that my family have bought me in recent years was a good quality, A3 size, LED light pad. It isn’t much thicker than a digital tablet, is relatively lightweight and plugs in to the mains. Perfect for when the sun refuses to shine, the image is too big to fit on the window, or is too complicated to draw at a vertical angle.
Obviously the downside of the light pad is cost, although some basic light bulb and plastic versions are available at a fraction of the price of this one, from larger craft stores.
The comments I made about the window trace are also relevant here regarding single sided paper images and suitable fabrics.
While the previous two methods work very well when there is a single sided drawing and light coloured and relatively lightweight fabric involved, sometimes you want to use a thick, coloured, or patterned fabric and there is no way that an image will show through with even the strongest light source behind it. For these circumstances I use tissue paper.
Trace the image on to a piece of tissue paper and pin on to the fabric. Stitch over the lines through all the layers using your preferred stitch, e.g. back stitch. Tension is important when working with this method, as is fastening off and starting a new piece of thread. You don’t want the stitches to sag when the tissue is removed or the ends of thread to be pulled through. When all the relevant outlines are stitched, carefully tear off the tissue paper.
The advantages of this method, as opposed to the others, is that a pencil or pen line directly onto the fabric is not required. This could be useful if you decide during your stitching that you want to change something. It is easy to remove stitches, not so easy to remove all traces of pencil or pen (unless you’ve bought a fancy disappearing one).
It is also cheap and a great way of reusing the copious amounts of tissue paper that arrive as packaging with on line shopping and in shoe boxes etc. This method works best with simple line work as it can get a bit difficult to remove the tissue from under lots of close together stitches. It also works best with linear stitch types such as running stitch, backstitch, stem stitch, etc again to help ease of removal when the transfer is complete.
I hope that you have found this post helpful and maybe discovered a method that you haven’t tried before. If you try any of these for the first time I’d love to hear how you got on so please do leave a comment.
Right, I’m off to finish stitching a bulldog. Speak to you soon.