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Topic: The big thread of transfer questions (pens, pencils, paper, other)  (Read 59924 times)
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« Reply #190 on: February 09, 2009 02:05:12 AM »

Hope this isn't too long. I've been experimenting over the last week or two with various transfer methods for dark fabrics. I've tried lots of different pens, pencils, chalk, crayons etc. I buy most of my art supplies at Texas Art Supply if you're not in Houston they're online at http://texasart.com/. Great prices and a good independent business, not a big box store.

For transfer paper I use Saral brand. You can buy it at hobby or art supply shops. It comes in a variety pack of letter-sized sheets, or in small rolls. I've had various other non-waxed dressmaker's carbons that worked fine, but I like the Saral the best. I have some of the Chacopy and Marks-B-Gone transfer papers. Maybe either the store or I have had them too long, because both became kind of sticky and neither worked. Darn.

The colored Sulky transfer pens use sublimation ink because of this they're permanent on poly, but lots of people have commented that they wash out of cotton. They aren't opaque, so they won't work on dark fabrics, though. For dark fabrics you should try the white Sulky transfer pen which is an opaque ink that sits on the surface rather than sublimating into the fabric. These pens really are great. Tip I got from Sulky: store them on their side, and be sure to close the cap tightly and you'll get many transfers from each pen.

Believe it or not, china markers are great! If you trace a design onto tracing paper, you can rub it or iron it onto fabric. I got two rubbings (using a tongue depressor, nothing fancy) onto fabric. You can get really fine lines  (even straight ones if you use a straight edge.) I tried a blue and a yellow one. Both worked, and both washed out of cotton, which kind of surprised me. Haven't tried to wash it out when heat transferred yet.

I tried the kids wash away ink pads with a stamp. Washed out of fabric fine. Comes in lots of colors, and refill ink is available, so you could use it in a pen. I tried it with a stamp, but you could make a stencil and maybe use a dauber to apply the ink.

Just tonight I heat transferred a laser-printed image (not ink jet) onto dark brown fabric. Worked like a champ! I was surprised how well you could see the lines. Since I used super fine lines they're visible but if I'm not 100% on the line while stitching you won't notice it. Woo hoo!

To help my eyes while stitching, I traced over it with a white Fons & Porter mechanical pencil. It really is a nice fabric marking pencil (the problem I have with most pencils is how quickly they lose their sharp edge.)

On the subject of pencils any water soluble art pencil works great.
General's chalk pencils are great. They even make a set of 4 pencils just for fabric. I also noticed last weekend that General's now have classic red heat transfer pencils. Bought 'em but haven't tried 'em yet. I assume they're like any other red heat transfer pencils (has anyone ever noticed a difference between brands?)

With graphite pencils, erasability seems to be all about the polymer and the eraser. I have a dollar-store push up pencil whose blue eraser worked like magic getting pencil marks and china marker out. My drafting pencil worked great at putting down precise lines, and was erasable with a good eraser. I'm not an artist, so I don't know all the different types of erasers I make a trial mark on scrap fabric and try erasing it with different erasers till I find one that works.

Clover's transfer pencil in blue is also good.

I tried the old turn of the century method of pricking holes in paper and rubbing with chalk. I couldn't believe how well it worked!!! Instead of parchment paper I used regular old tracing paper (man, that stuff is strong!), pricked holes using an old sewing needle. Instead of washing bluing I rubbed some chalk from a chalk wheel that's never worked right over the holes. Didn't pull out a brush or dauber or anything, just used my finger. Talk about low tech! But it worked like a champ, gave me a super crisp image, and I sealed it so I wouldn't rub the image out before it got stitched with a quick shot of an alcohol based hairspray. the image lasted through my ham-fisted stitching, and of course the chalk washed right out. Just for fun I also tried various colored chalks from a regular pack of kids chalk, and it worked great. You could get all fancy by using a pricking tool, different paper, and that "miracle chalk" stuff (which as far as I can tell is powdered tailors chalk, the kind that steams away.) You could get really fancy and use something other than a finger as an application device, I guess.

I'd like to try this with bluing powdered or with a few drops of water added to form a liquid. I think the only brand of powdered bluing available in the US is called "Reckitt's". I noticed there are a couple of Etsy sellers who sell the little squares. There are a couple of european powdered brands as well that can be ordered from overseas if one were so inclined.

Sharpie pens work great they're carbon-based, so they'll transfer with heat. Only problem is that they're permanent.

Water soluble crayons worked well, too. You can either rub them on or use heat. They don't soak into the fabric because they're a non-soluble pigment that's in a water-soluble base.

I used Solvy in the fall and it worked great. It had the added advantage of stabilizing the fabric. Turned out great! I stitched with it onto a dark brown cotton knit skirt.

Over Christmas I tacked down tissue paper and stitched through that. The paper did pull away nicely when finished, no problems there. The only problem I had was that it seems as if stitches aren't placed quite where you think they are. I think the tissue slips around a bit. Guess you could use one of those temporary spray adhesives to hold it more securely. I'm not a super precise stitcher, so I can't really afford to have stitches going even more astray! Still, results were okay.

« Reply #191 on: February 09, 2009 07:38:44 AM »

Wow, that is an awful lot of information you've given us all.  When the need arises, I will try a couple of your suggestions.  Thanks so much, Pipstress.

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« Reply #192 on: February 09, 2009 03:11:30 PM »

I noticed several people commented that their Solvy slips around when stitching. A couple of tips.

Temporary fabric spray adhesives are designed to hold fabric and stabilizer together for stiching. Sulky KK2000 is a good product. It's safe to use, won't gum up your needles, and disappears by evaporation within days or weeks (depends on the humidity.) It's not cheap, but I usually wait for it to go on sale or use a coupon. It's worth the investment. To use it: lightly spray it on your fabric, then lay your sulky film or other stabilizer on it. Pat it down and then hoop your new fabric-stabilizer sandwich as usual. Here's a link to the product site: http://www.sulky.com/adhesives/index_adhesives.php

A second option is to hoop your Solvy and fabric sandwich, then tack the solvy and fabric together with basting stitches prior to stitching. Long running stitches with a couple strands of floss around major parts of the design are all you need.
« Reply #193 on: May 14, 2009 08:31:39 PM »

So I'm not entirely thrilled with the methods I've used so far for transferring embroidery patterns to fabric.  What I've tried so far is dressmaker's tracing paper (no good), sharpie on Glad Press and Seal (hard to stitch through, and had some of the ink discolor the floss as I was working), and hot iron transfer pencils, which are OK, but the line is wide even if I have the pencil quite sharp when tracing and I couldn't use it on dark fabrics.

So I seem to have heard of using Sulky stabilizer for transferring patterns, but I"m confused because there are so many varieties of Sulky.  There's tear-away, water soluble, etc, and I'm clueless.  Does it iron on to the fabric I'd be stitching on?

If anyone's used this, I'd love to hear more about it.

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« Reply #194 on: May 15, 2009 03:17:35 PM »

I've used sulky stabilizers to transfer patterns, in fact, it's probably my favorite way.  I've used the iron on, tear away with good results.  You can draw the pattern directly onto the stabilizer and attach it with a hot iron to the front, stitching away on it.  OR you can use the stabilizer underneath the fabric, on the backside if you've ironed the pattern onto the fabric itself.  If you don't want to iron the stabilizer onto your fabric you can always pin it down.  As for the water soluble one, pin it.  This kind is much more delicate so you'll probably want to use a few layers of it.  Either one make it easy to stitch on dark fabrics, which is always a plus.   I've used another stabilizer that I like too... its not sulky but I'll have to get back to you on the brand. I don't have any left to check  Undecided  It's water soluble topping (?) its make for stitching on puffy fabrics like terry cloth. I like it so much because even though it's water soluble its strong enough that you can iron it on.  i can only find it a store that specializes in quilting and sewing machines.  I assume its made specifically for machine embroidery but it works great for hand too.  This same store had a newsletter type thingy that explained all of the different types of stabilizers from that particular brand maybe one of your local craft stores would have something similar? (it's helpful with the sulky kinds too, cause its basically all the same right?)

"The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary". --Mary  Kurtz,  "The Needlework Times" April, 1978.

« Reply #195 on: May 16, 2009 10:04:19 AM »

Thanks for the info!  I was at JoAnn yesterday and found the Sulky stuff, but was totally mystified by all the different types.  I almost bought the iron on tear-away stuff, so it's good to know I was on the right track!

When you draw the pattern on the stabilizer, do you ever have problems with the ink getting smeary or mucking up your floss?  That's the problem I had with Sharpie on Glad Press and Seal, even though I made sure to let the Sharpie dry for a couple of days before stitching on it.

When you tear away the Sulky, does it stress any of your stitches?  That's another frustration I had with the Press and Seal.

Is the Sulky transparent enough to see through it to trace the pattern, or do you need a light box?

Thanks again for the info!  I'm sure someday I'll come across the perfect transfer method.  I like the idea of the pattern on the stabilizer instead of permanently on my fabric -- especially if I end up embroidering any vintage items.
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« Reply #196 on: May 16, 2009 01:26:52 PM »

The water soluble is def. clear enough to trace the pattern.  With the tear away you might need a light box depending on how light your pattern is. (you can always use a window if you don't have one)

As for pulling on the stitches, it can happen if you aren't careful.  Always cut away most of it first before you tear it away.  Then when you do tear it away, tear to the side as opposed to tearing in an upwards direction.  When i'm working on a delicate area (one that i only used a few of the strands of floss I definitely try to use two hands. One to apply pressure to the top of my stitches to make sure they don't pull and one to tear away the stabilizer).  Then use tweezers for tight areas or little pieces.  Usually the holes created by the needle in the stabilizer are enough the make it tear away pretty easily.  And remember to be patient, tearing away in the small controlled chunks as opposed to huge sections at a time.

As for the ink problem, you should try using a water soluble marker. I usually use the blue Clover brand one.  You can find them in different colors in the notions section.  This way if you mess up you can "erase" it with water, wait for it to dry and then fix it.  It's never messed with my threads.  However I have used plain ol pens and markers to transfer and i've found that a regular ballpoint pen like a bic or even a pencil works the best. 

"The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary". --Mary  Kurtz,  "The Needlework Times" April, 1978.

« Reply #197 on: May 16, 2009 01:36:06 PM »

That is great info.  Thank you!
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« Reply #198 on: May 20, 2009 05:10:47 PM »

WOW. That's the best list of stitching transfer suggestions! Great information, Pipstress!

Another option that works great - whether on dark or light fabric - is the Bohin ceramic pencil that comes with different refill colors. They Last Forever, which helps minimize the stress over the price, and you can achieve very fine, smooth lines with the transfer. They erase right off with the eraser that's attached to the pencil, and they also rinse away with water.

For solvy, I agree with the hooping and tacking thing. I prefer the thicker solvy to the thinner kind. Ultra Solvy, it might be called?

With the prick-and-pounce mentioned in Pipstress's list, you can use a small strip of felt rolled up like a sleeping bag to pounce your chalk on. The chalk traditionally used in prick-and-stitch is cuttlefish bone mixed with charcoal, so it's normally greyish. For the white powder (for transferring to dark fabrics), it's straight cuttlefish bone, methinks. It's super-fine, which makes it perfect for passing through the holes in your tissue paper (I use regular tracing paper, too), and it's somewhat heavy and clingy, so it doesn't blow away or shift much when you pick up the paper. I usually use a really fine paintbrush and watercolor paints or acrylics to paint a very fine line over the powder dots, to make a permanent pattern - but then, if I'm using prick-and-pounce, it's usually on a project that is going to take a lot of time to stitch - six months, a year, two years - so the design has to last. Once the dots are painted over, I pick up my frame and flick hard on the back of the fabric until all the dust from the pounce powder is gone. It's a great method - but too much work, I think, for smaller projects!

Hey, and there's nothing wrong with a regular pencil to trace a pattern with, as long as you draw with a light hand, and you're using colored floss. (Doesn't work so great with white! picks up the grey!) Use the window as a light box... inexpensive and very effective...

« Reply #199 on: June 03, 2009 07:57:59 AM »

I tend to do a lot of stitching on T-shirts and things like that and I find that regular Crayola washable fine tipped marker work great for tracing patterns on to Solvy and have the added bonus of washing off your hands easily and not depositing ink on the fabric. They've literally been a dream and at $5 for 8 you really can't beat the price.
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