Embroidery was the first needlework skill I learned as a child. And, I think the Lazy Daisy stitch was the first stitch I learned. Pillowcases, dish towels, and dresser scarves were the first things I made. I then moved onto embroidering on my clothes and anything that I could find to stitch a motif on. Is anybody old enough to remember sitting next to your boyfriend between the bucket seats? Most girls I knew made pillows to sit on, mine was embroidered with a Chevy bow tie.
I became a quiltaholic for quite a few years, and dropped the embroidery for awhile, and then having to add more to the handwork portion, I started embroidering on my quilts. But I was bored with the standard transfers, wanting a personalized touch. So I started making my own iron-on transfers.
Ruth Less’ hand print at age 3.
It’s my norm to make handmade gifts. I like to differentiate my handwork with something special to the recipient. Logos, hobbies and simple artwork have piqued my interest.
Seed catalogs, coloring books, and advertising also are great sources of inspiration. Most digital photo editing programs also offer a cartoon feature. I haven’t used one of our photos yet this way, but it is in the back of my mind when I’m looking at photos.
Supplies you will need:
♥ Tracing paper
♥ Transfer pencil (Iron-on transfer pencils are in the notion section at fabric stores)
♥ No. 2 pencil
After deciding what kind of artwork you are going to use, you need to get it in traceable form. When I did the transfer of RL’s hand prints, I photocopied them, making several copies for future use. It’s a good idea to put pertinent information on these drawings too. Being a collector/historian I appreciate all the little details of every day life on the old things I have collected. It may not seem important at the time, but it may be someday to someone. I love heirlooms, and I want to make heirlooms.
Your tracing paper will be your transfer. If your design contains letters, or an obvious one-way design you will need to trace it first with a regular pencil on one side, then flip the tracing paper and re-trace the design with your transfer pencil.
If the direction of your design does not matter, you can skip the No. 2 pencil step, and just trace with your transfer pencil.
Also a thing to remember about transfers, is that they are a guide. You don’t need every detail of the picture. Even if you are filling the entire space with stitches, you only need the outline to stitch from.
First I drew the motif to size.
This particular transfer was for a quilt, and it was a one-way design, needing to be in a border between patchwork pieces.
First I traced the design with a No. 2 pencil.
Next, I flipped the tracing paper and traced the pencil design with the transfer pencil.
This is the personalized iron-on transfer. Ready for use.
This is how it turned out on the quilt.
While it may seem frivolous to enhance a simple blanket with such detail, by adding a personal touch to our handmade gifts, we take them beyond what they are. Fine handwork is so sadly lacking these days, people machine quilt, they machine embroider, never distinguishing their work from factory made articles. Like a beautiful loaf of artisan bread, a well tended garden, or a beautifully set table, I think we need to appreciate the simpler things in life, and embrace lost skills. How many stitches did I put in this quilt? I don’t know. But each and every one had the recipient in mind. And that’s what handmade is about.