The "window method" for transferring designs onto fabric

Updated: May 7

The "window method" is perhaps the most common way to transfer a design onto fabric for hand embroidery, and essentially involves tracing a design from paper or screen onto fabric in conjunction with any number of transfer tools.


Hope holds up a blank embroidery hoop with white fabric and a simple line drawn pattern on paper. A pencil is also in the shot.
In this post, I'll be using this simple design and a pencil to demonstrate the window method.

In this post, I'll be explaining why it's called the window method, how to do it, and provide you with a few pieces of troubleshooting advice.


Why is it called the window method?


This is known as the "window method" because you'll be bringing your hoop to a window on a sunny day in order to more clearly see your pattern, which allows you to more easily trace your design onto your fabric. You can also use an alternative source of light (such as a light box or lamp) if you don't have access to a window on a sunny day. And, in some cases, you might have enough ambient light in your workspace to see through to your design without the additional light from a window or other light source at all!


How do you transfer an embroidery design using the window method?


Print your pattern


I've printed out a simple embroidery pattern onto normal computer paper to demonstrate the window method for today's post. If you're printing out a pattern to be transferred multiple times, you might consider using something a bit sturdier (such as card stock).


If you don't have access to a printer, try placing your hoop on top of your tablet or computer monitor -- just be careful not to press so hard on your screen that you leave behind unintentional damage.


Place your pattern underneath your fabric


Because I'm using such a thin and light color of fabric in this example, I'm able to see through to my design without having to bring my hoop to an additional light source.


Hope holds up an embroidery hoop with white fabric; underneath, you can see she's holding a printed pattern to the fabric.

Trace your design


Hold your pattern steady with your non-tracing hand as you use your chosen transfer tool to trace your design to fabric. If your pattern is a bit more intricate, or if you find it too difficult to hold the pattern as you trace with your other hand, consider temporarily taping it to the back of your hoop using a few strips of clear tape.


Hope holds up a pencil to an embroidery hoop to demonstrate the window method for transferring a design.

It's that simple -- print your design, place it behind your fabric, and trace!


Troubleshooting


If you're having issues seeing your design or pattern through your fabric, ask yourself the following questions:


Is your light source bright enough?


I've found that certain designs and fabric require me to use alternative sources of light (such as a lightbulb) to see clearly, even on exceptionally bright and sunny days.


Are the lines on your pattern thick enough?


If not, try drawing over the lines of your pattern using a thick marker or pen.


Is your fabric too opaque for this method?


Most of the fabrics I use in my own work are thin enough for me to see through, so long as I find a strong enough light source. If your fabric isn't see-through no matter how bright the light, you might consider a different transfer method (such as washable transfer paper).


Thank you for being here, and I can't wait to see what you make!


I hope this was useful, and I can't wait to see what you make - whether you create something from one of my kits or patterns, or from a design of your very own! If you'd like to share your work with me, you can always tag me on your social media accounts (@hopebroidery on Instagram and Twitter, @hope.broidery on TikTok). If you don't have public social accounts, but still want to share, consider emailing me a few pictures (hope@hopebroidery.com), I would love the chance to tell you how much I love your work!


Happy stitching!