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Tracing is not cheating!

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I really enjoy the design process when starting out a new embroidery. The delicious hours of research on the internet or looking through art books, sketching, then getting out the pencils and textas to flesh out the design in colour. Finally comes the moment when the design gets transferred to fabric and you thread the the needle….

I have never been entirely happy with the methods I used to transfer patterns. Using normal drawing pens worked, but there was always the risk that the black ink would run when the final product was washed. Using the embroidery transfers alleviated that problem, but I found that the quality of the line was always too thick, an issue if the design required delicacy.

Luckily, I stumbled across this blog post by Down the Grapevine Lane. Long story short, she uses a Frixion pen and a window to trace the pattern on to the fabric. Genius! The pen in question is erasable, either by the dinky rubber at the end, or by heat (iron or hairdryer).

(I found the Frixion pens at Officeworks for about $3 (AU).

I liked this solution because it was cheap, easy and I could achieve a clean, fine line. I have been working on an embroidery for about 3 months, and the ink is still visible and hasn’t smudged. The only thing I did find, was that I needed a light box, as tracing large or intricate designs was torture on the arm muscles. Luckily I have a husband who doesn’t mind a bit of time in the shed with some wood and together we came up with a cheap solution

However! I have read some articles that are not so keen on the Frixion solution. Mary Corbet’s ‘Needle and Thread‘ had some good points about ink remaining in the fabric and warns that the ink can re-appear. She makes some alternative suggestions about archival quality methods, which she suggests might be worth considering if your project is going to be an heirloom, or uses expensive materials.

For my purposes, I think the Frixion is perfect. My style of embroidery is fluid, and I don’t mind a reminder of the process. Isn’t that half the fun anyway?

What do you think?




2 responses »

  1. I haven’t used a Frixion pen, but I have a DMC embroidery transfer pen that I’ve used. I have not had any problems with the ink — it rinses out completely and easily.

  2. Hi Alice! I’ve not come across those before. Where did you get it from?


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