For my first pillow, I have chosen a floral quilt pattern, I am only going to use the rose block. I have many old embroidery transfer patterns, some dating back to the 1930's. These patterns are not easy to come by. E-bay is a good source, and occasionally you can find them at estate sales. Because I don't want to use my original pattern, I make a copy using tracing paper, and a heat transfer pencil.
I secure the pattern to a smooth surface. My sewing table top is tile, so I use a large square birch wood panel that I purchased at Home Depot. I use clips to hold it in place so that it does not move around during tracing.
Once the pattern is secure, I place the tracing paper over it. This pattern is large, so I had to tape two pieces of paper together. I use tiny pieces of transparent tape to attach the tracing paper to the pattern. It is very important that it does not move during the tracing process so it has to be taped in place, but I use as small and as few pieces necessary to avoid damaging my pattern.Next comes the tracing. You want to be sure to make a dark moderate line, not too thin, not too thick. If the line is too light or thin, it will be difficult to transfer it to the fabric. If is is too thick and heavy, it will "bleed" under the heat of the iron, and the line will look fuzzy.
I start tracing in the middle and work my way out, this way, I do not drag my hand across the lines, causing the pencil to smear. It took me just over an hour to tape and trace this particular pattern. After tracing it is time to transfer the pattern to the fabric. It is crucial that the fabric and pattern do not move during this step. I pin the fabric directly to the ironing board pad using straight pins with the little glass heads. Then I use painters tape to attach the tracing to the fabric. The iron must be very hot to melt the pencil markings to the fabric, you need to keep this in mind when choosing a fabric to embroider. I let my iron heat up on its highest setting (linen) for at least 5 minutes before I begin, don't use the automatic shut off kind of iron for this job. Place the iron on the pattern and press down very hard, for a 10 second count. Move the iron to the next section and repeat until the entire pattern has been pressed. Do not slide the iron back and forth as you do while ironing clothes, simply press, pick-up, press, and so on....Also, do not use the steam feature, it does not make the process any faster and you can burn yourself on the steam that billows out while you are holding the iron down. Yeap, been there, done that....OUCH! I usually press the pattern twice to make sure I have a good strong lines. You can nearly go blind trying to embroider a faint barely visible line. Uhumm, been there, done that, too.Don't worry if the pattern double prints some I have found that this transfer pencil will wash out. As long as you can find a definite line as a guide it won't be a problem. If there is a lot of double printing and you can not distinguish which line to use, then my friend, you have to start over.....don't ask me if I have done that.....GRRRRR!!!
OK , so the hard part is finished!! Now you can focus on the fun stuff. Choosing colors and stitching:) I have found it useful to keep a notebook documenting the pattern and the thread choices I make for each part, each color has an identifying number. In case I would like to duplicate the piece at a later time, I don't have to rack my brain trying to remember what colors I picked.
I taught myself to hand embroider using the book you see on the table, A-Z of embroidery stitches, I can't recommend it enough. It is has lots of photographs and very easy step-by-step instructions.
Blessing #5- Having the tools to make what my heart desires.