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PRESSURE TRANSFER

Pressure-fax Transfer Pen by EZ Crafts.
The manufacturer's instructions for this simple process are extensive. Briefly, these are the main points: The ink may bleed into floss and wool yarn; natural fiber fabrics will absorb more ink; for light fabrics only; produces the strongest image if transferred to fabric within one hour. The basic process is this:

  1. Trace the design using the Pressure-fax pen onto the supplied paper. (The transfer paper is transparent enough to allow for tracing a sharp image without the use of a light box.) Make sure that you are tracing an image that is facing the OPPOSITE way from the final image.

  2. Place the paper transfer side down on your fabric
    (I used unbleached muslin) - securing both in place. I used an embossing tool, but a crochet hook or even a blunt pencil would probably work fine.

Pressure Transfer PROS:

  • Pressure-fax isn't expensive and it's available at most fabric stores. Two 17" x 22" sheets are supplied.
  • No heat is required.
  • Only moderate pressure is required to transfer the design.

Pressure Transfer CONS:

  • One transfer per tracing. (I tried to make a second image with the original tracing, but it was faint and some of the lines broke up.)
  • The image didn't wash out completely. I used cold water, soap, and a little scrubbing, but the image was still visible. This isn't so much of an issue if you will be putting embroidery directly over ALL the lines.

I don't recommend this method for a couple of reasons. It's a little too much work (tracing and rubbing) and ink residue was left on the material, even after hand-washing.

PHOTOCOPY TRANSFER
Apparently, both black and white and color photocopies can be transferred directly to fabric. I haven't tried this one yet, so I'm not recommending it. If you have used this method - let us know how it went.

With a mixture of one cup water, one cup mineral spirits (found at art supplies stores), and a few drops of liquid detergent, dampen the right sides of the paper and the fabric. Place felt or a towel under the fabric and put the photocopy face down on the fabric. Press with a hot iron (cotton setting). Will not work on synthetics.

TRACE OR DRAW
Tip #3: To make sure the design on the fabric is facing the same way as the original, trace the design using a black pen. When you're finished, turn the sheet over and place another sheet of tracing paper over it. Trace the image again.

Using the second sheet of tracing paper simply makes it easier to see the image areas that have already been traced - you're less likely to miss a spot. This is only really helpful for large or complex designs.

Tip #4: Trace the design with strong dark lines so they won't get lost in the weave of the fabric. Details can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from fabric fibers.

Before you begin: Unless your fabric is transparent enough to allow you to clearly see the underlying design without being backlit, you will need a light source of some kind behind your design and fabric. The best is a light box. They're generally portable, tabletop boxes with a fluorescent light or two under a plexiglass top. These can get expensive, but there are some around for under $30. The only down side is the small size of the lighted area. (Depending on the size of your design, you might need to shift your work six times and trace it in sections.) The larger the lighted area, the more expensive the box. My husband made himself a light table years ago for his graphic design business. It was a work table with a large 18" x 24" lighted area that was great. If a light box isn't an opiton, a large well-lit window works, but it's awkward since you've got gravity working against your arms and the fabric.

  1. Using wide masking tape, attach the design to a lighted surface.
  2. Tape the fabric securely over the design.
  3. Trace using whichever tool you like best.

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Transfer Image

Transfer Image