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24 February 2019
Regarding my next project, a Colbert embroidery sampler, there's a big challenge coming up to me. TFDT - The Frightening Design Transfer. The planned design is fairly big and intricate, five smaller and larger motifs to be transferred neatly in a certain arrangement on a piece of linen. I did not do much transfers as yet, and for most of them I used ordinary carbon paper, the kind you would use for typewriter copies. I was fine with it, save that the lines on the fabric didn't last very long, they began to fade after a couple of weeks. You can read about my respective experience here. A couple of weeks however would by far not be enough time for stitching my planned Colbert sampler.
When it comes to embroidery transfer, there are basically five options:
I did already test the iron-on pen and the dressmaker's carbon paper by Prym. The results of the test weren't to my complete satisfaction, as you can see here. On Luzine Happel's website, I found another iron-on pen mentioned, made by DEKA, which was part of my birthday presents. While the Prym pen is made of plastic and has a pink reservoir (much like a felt tip pen), the DEKA pen is basically a coloured pencil with a soft, dark purple lead.
Because I'm still waiting for the pearl cotton ordered for this sampler to arrive, and because this time I want the transfer to come out as perfect as possible, I decided on a full test run of all transfer methods coming into question. Method #5, basting, went off the list at the outset. This method is suited for relatively rough designs only, without much and tiny detail.
I chose one meaningful motif from the sampler, took a scrap of 32 ct. Zweigart linen, and off I went. Below you can see the results of my experiment including some explanations on what I liked about them and what not.
The Transfer Test Run
I don't have a real lightbox. My husband suggested to make me a good lightbox, using an IKEA plastic box, one or two LED bars plus a frosted glass pane, but it hasn't come to it yet. I do have a notebook however, and I've read here and there that other stitchers are tracing on laptops, notebooks etc. as well. Hence the following transfer is done on my notebook with the Recycle Bin activated to have a clean white light underneath.
Tracing on a Notebook Screen
Wow! What a perfect result. That would be my first-choice transfer method, if ... well, if the first pressing didn't come out smudgy! I immediately pressed it once more right beside the first one, and this one went like a charme.
Pressing with ...
... an Iron-on Pen ...
... on Tracing Paper
At a second session, I did a transfer with the DEKA pen and with the Prym pen side by side - and guess what? Both of them worked splendidly! No smudges with the DEKA pen, and I'm sure that's because I didn't press as hard as at the first go. But the biggest surprise was the Prym pen. Why didn't it work the very first time? The pink lines are not quite so nice as the blue lines of the DEKA pen, but they're still nice enough to consider the Prym pen as yet another option for transfer.
So you can say: problem solved.
DEKA Pencil (Blue) + Prym Pen (Pink)
Addendum: Not entirely. After transferring the first design onto the sampler fabric this way, there were very ugly smudges again. (argh! what a blessing that a fabric has two sides ...) I'm absolutely sure I didn't press the pencil too hard this time. First I supposed I could have been touching the lines with my hand, but there's one more explanation: I could have been pressing the iron too long (1 min.). As I discovered in the next attempt (which came out perfectly), the DEKA pencil needs only 10 seconds for a perfect transfer! Now I'm pretty sure of the
Solution: Do the first ironing on some layers of paper towel rather than (precious) fabric, only then iron it onto the fabric.
Addendum #2: No final solution in sight, sad to say as it is. Please read about my ongoing experiences HERE.
Blue to the left - red to the right. In the center, where the blue is scarcely visible, that's just where the two sheets of carbon paper were overlapping. Again, I didn't fix the whole business to the fabric, so the circle turned into an egg.
Blue and Red Carbon Paper
Because the red and the blue carbon paper worked out so well, even though it didn't satisfy me at the very first attempt, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try the white and the yellow carbon paper once again as well. All the more, as a lady on our facebook community showed a photo of a perfect transfer on black fabric with white dressmaker's carbon paper by Prym. And again - I have no idea why my very first attempt came out so disappointing? Especially the white carbon paper does an excellent job.
So one more problem solved.
White and Yellow Carbon Paper on Dark Fabric
This seems to be a method entirely unknown in Germany, so that I even don't know a German name for it. I couldn't find any ready-to-use Prick'n Pounce equipment here. Of course, you can make it yourself: for the pricking just stick a medium large needle into a cork, and black pounce powder is simply made out of crushed charcoal. I found some chunks of charcoal in my art stash, but ... how can I crush them when I don't have a mortar? There was nothing for it but to crush the charcoal with a handy cachepot on a pile of old newspapers. For the pouncing I used a piece of rolled up felt.
P&P with Charcoal and Blue Pastel
Here's my personal transfer score:
Prick & Pounce? No, I think, I won't be trying my hands on this method again anytime soon. Too time-consuming, too messy, too confusing, too fault-prone, too too ...