5 Ways to Transfer a Pattern

Transfer a Pattern 5 ways

5 Ways to Transfer a Pattern

Learn 5 ways to transfer a pattern onto fabric or other media. Surely, one way will become your favorite. I suggest trying a few of these ways to see which one works best for you and your project. 

You might already have a favorite but you might find a new way here! Maybe you will find one way works best for a certain color or weight of fabric, yet another way for something else, such as wood. It is a good idea to be familiar with all 5 ways to transfer patterns, so you can problem solve if you need to. Keep supplies available for different techniques so that when you need to use them, you’re ready. Not having what you need to start a project is a sure fire way to steal the joy of crafting!

Skill level: easy

Transfer a Pattern

Here are 5 Ways to Transfer a Pattern.

1.Transfer by Tracing

Transfer the designs directly onto the fabric using a light source such as a light box or window. This works best with fabric that light can get through. Trace the lines with a chalk based marking pencil, a water soluble transfer pen or a pencil. I have used a finely sharpened standard pencil. I just stitch right over the lines.

To transfer a pattern using a window as a light source, tape the pattern to the glass. Position the fabric so the pattern is where you desire it to be, then tape the fabric tightly over the pattern. Now trace the lines with your marking pencil or pen. Even though the pattern and fabric are taped down, make sure to hold the fabric still with your hand as you trace. This will ensure there isn’t a wrinkle caused by the tracing.

When using a light box as a light source, follow the same directions as above. Tape the pattern down on the light box, then tape the fabric tightly on top so the pattern is where you desire it to be. Hold the fabric taut as you trace the pattern with your marking tool.

These are my favorite methods because they are easy and fairly quick. Most of the time I am working on cotton fabric which works well with this method. I also purchased a light box which made it easier to sit at a table instead of having to stand at a window to trace. 

2. Heat Transfer Pens and Pencils

Heat transfer pencils or pens are another option to transfer a pattern on fabric. The ink is activated by the heat of an iron. They will work on various weight fabrics and are available in different colors and thicknesses. However, these heat transfer pencils and pens are permanent. The traced pattern lines will not wash out, and the marked lines must be completely covered with embroidery or needle punch so they are not visible. Use a fine tipped pen for the best results.

When using a heat transfer pen or pencil, it is important to trace the design on the back of the sheet of paper the design was printed on. The design is traced in reverse because when the pattern is pressed onto the fabric, it creates a mirror image of the traced design. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to print your pattern, turn it over, and then trace the design on the back side of the paper using the heat transfer pencil or pen. If the pattern is difficult to see through from the back of the printed paper, use a light box or window to visualize the pattern better. Follow the tracing instructions from above.

The traced lines should be as thin as possible so when they are transferred to the fabric, the lines don’t peek out from under the stitches. If you use a pencil, make sure it is very sharp or use a fine point pen.


To transfer the pattern to fabric, place the paper against the fabric with the heat transfer side down and press with a hot iron. Lift the iron off of the paper before moving it to the next location. Do not move the iron back and forth along the paper, as this distorts the image.

Purchase a heat transfer pencil here

3. Water-Soluble Stabilizer Transfer

If you are working with dark fabrics or if your pattern is very detailed, the water soluble stabilizer method is a good choice to transfer a pattern. The pattern can be printed directly onto the stabilizer, then place the stabilizer on your embroidery fabric.

After you have embroidered through the fabric and stabilizer, soak the embroidery in warm water. The stabilizer will dissolve away.

This method requires soaking in water, so it is important to make sure that your fabric can be washed and that your embroidery floss is colorfast.

Purchase Water Soluable Stabilizer here

4. Transfer Paper

Carbon or wax based transfer paper, sometimes referred to as dressmakers’ carbon paper, can be used to transfer a pattern to thick or dark fabrics. This is also a good choice when putting a pattern on wood to embroider. This transfer paper is lightweight and is coated on one side with a powdery colored ink, made for use on fabrics. This ink will wash out of the finished embroidery.

This transfer paper comes in a variety of colors so you can use a light color when transferring to a dark fabric and then use a dark color for light fabrics. Always use the lightest color possible, just in case the ink doesn’t completely wash out. 

To use this transfer paper to transfer a pattern, lay the fabric right side up on a hard surface. Tape the fabric smoothly down on the hard surface, then tape the transfer paper and pattern paper down securely to ensure they don’t shift. Place the transfer paper centered on the fabric, with the waxy ink towards the fabric. Then place the pattern paper on top of the transfer paper. Trace the design pattern using a stylus or an empty pen, pressing the ink onto the fabric. Make sure to press hard enough with the stylus to transfer the design to the fabric through the layers of paper.

Purchase Dressmaker’s Carbon Paper here

5. Tracing Paper Transfer

Tracing paper can be used to transfer a pattern onto fabrics that are difficult to trace onto or that you don’t want to soak.

With this technique, trace your pattern onto lightweight tracing paper. Hand stitch or machine baste stitch (a long stitch length) the paper onto your fabric securely,  then embroider through the paper and fabric. When the embroidery is finished, cut the basted stitches and carefully tear away the tracing paper.

Above all enjoy the process!

5 Ways to Transfer a Pattern!

Share it!

Enjoy 10 Steps for Crafting Stress Free

or Handmade Jules Needle Punch Patterns

Hopping Into Spring

The Face of Jesus

Create Happy!

Hi, I’m Jules!

My goal is to help others learn new things without getting frustrated. Join me in my DIY craft projects adventures with simple, complete instructions, and read more about me here.

Create Happy!

 Jules Signature light purple

Printable Hand Stitch Guide.

Printable Hand Stitch Guide.

Use this Printable Hand Stitch Guide for consistent, even stitches!

The basic idea is a hand stitch guide which rests on top of a hand stitching project giving you marks to follow and stitch evenly along your pattern.

Download the Printable Hand Stitch Guide file from Handmade Jules onto your computer. Remember where you save this file. I save my projects in a folder for each type of project.

Skill level: easy

Detailed instructions on how to upload the Printable Hand Stitch Guide file into Cricut Design Space.

  • Click on Upload on the left side of screen – then click Browse – go to the folder you saved the Printable Hand Stitch file in – next click open.
  • Next you will be asked to Select Image Type – I always select Complex – then click Continue – next click Save  as a print then cut, this is written under the design at the left side –
  • You will now be on the uploaded images page – choose your image – then click on insert image

Now you will be on your canvas page. Make any changes you desire.

This is very important

● Go to the Width and Height at the top of your canvas page.

● Change the Height to 2.3 then the Width will change to 7.955

● You can click on the lock icon between the W and H to unlock both, then change both to the measurements listed above, after the change click again on the lock icon to lock it back down.

Click “make it”.


This is a print and cut, so the Cricut will prompt you to print. Choose the desired printer to send the “Printable Hand Stitch Guide” to. It also has a button to add bleed. This extends the ink slightly around the border of the image to prevent a white border. With the bleed on the black trim is thicker on the finished piece. I like it both ways. Print on the card stock or paper of your choice. Remember the printer will print the colors of the Printable Hand Stitch Guide. Next press Print.


Put the printed Hand Stitch Guide onto the cutting mat, making sure to line up with the guidelines on your cutting mat. Load into the Cricut by pressing the arrow to feed into Cricut, then press “C” to cut. To peel the card stock off the cutting mat, gently bend the mat away from the cardstock. Then pull the card stock off and use the same method to pop your Printable Hand Stitch Guide off the cutting mat. Also you can use your Cricut tools to lift the cards off. Now you are ready to use your Printable Hand Stitch Guide!

Print in color on cardstock for a sturdy guide or printer paper for a pliable guide. There are two designs of the Printable Hand Stitch Guide. First there is one guide with stitch marks placed on the guide and next there are two guides where you can use a pen to mark your own stitch lengths. Directions to mark the guide are below.

Without a cutting machine.

  • Cut around the pink circle of your printed Hand Stitch Guide .
  • Use a pen and ruler to mark your own stitch lengths or use the preprinted guide.
  • To mark your own guide marks, place a ruler along the dotted line within the pink guide.

Marking the hand stitch guide

  • With a pen or marker, mark a dash along the line at desired custom stitch length.
  • Use an exacto knife or scissors to cut the dotted lines around the yellow inner circle, be sure to leave the straight line in place- do not cut. Your finger rests upon the yellow piece to hold the guide.
  • Fold the pink circle along the dotted edge inside the pink circle, careful to keep the edge straight.
  • This can fold over the edge of your fabric to help hold the Printable Hand Stitch Guide in place while you stitch, if you are working on the edge of the fabric. For example, working on an edging of a blanket stitch or when hand sewing a seam closed. If you are working on a flat area or in the middle of the piece, just fold this piece completely under or cut right off.

Optional dotted line use

It is an option to cut the on dotted straight line within the pink circle, being careful to not cut all the way through to the edge of the circle if you want this edge to bend along an edge. This cut edge will allow the stitch guide to be closer, flat on top of fabric while you stitch. The remaining edge left uncut will help hold the guide in place, along the edge. Either way works well, it is a personal preference.

Using the Printable Hand Stitch Guide


Stitching with the Hand Stitch Guide

Place your thumb on top of the yellow circle with the straight marked edge along the place you want to stitch. Begin to stitch. as you progress your stitches, just slide the hand stitch guide along with your thumb.

Printable Hand stitch guide~ the way to enjoy consistent even stitches.

Hi, I’m Jules!

My goal is to help others learn new things without getting frustrated. Join me in my DIY craft projects adventures with simple, complete instructions, and read more about me here.

Create Happy!

 Jules Signature light purple

I love to DIY, make things by hand and be creative. My goal is to help others learn new things without getting frustrated. Join me in my DIY adventures with simple, complete instructions, and read More about me here.

Create Happy!