This instructable focuses on getting digital artwork from your computer onto fabric for embroidery. This is done via an acetone toner transfer, a cheap and fast transfer method using readily available materials and tools that you probably already have in your home. I've also seen this method used for transferring artwork to wood or canvas.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
-Fabric on which to embroider (100% cotton is what I used, be careful if you're using any synthetic fibers since the acetone may melt them)
-Embroidery Floss or normal all purpose thread
-Interfacing - optional
-Embroidery needle or standard sewing needle (preferably small sized)
-Acetone/ nail polish remover - I used nail polish remover because it was on hand. If you can, get pure acetone, since most nail polish removers have perfumes and other additives that may stain your fabric. Always test on a scrap piece of fabric, to see if it stains or if the acetone dissolves it. Other solvents such as xylene may work.
-Digital Artwork (outline/line artwork works best)
- Laser Printer
- a spoon
This method of pattern transfer only works with images printed with a laser printer/copier. Inkjet images will not work.
Leave some space when cutting around the actual design because the acetone will dissolve the tape.
Be careful of working on a finished table surface as the acetone may bleed through the fabric and dissolve the finish of the table. I worked on a glass tabletop.
Remember to cap your acetone/nail polish, because it evaporates quickly, and the typically tall & skinny bottle may fall down due to the rubbing motion.
If your artwork is not symmetrical or contains text, you will need to reverse it before printing. After the transfer is completed the artwork will be the mirror image of what you had originally printed.
due to different types of printers and fabrics- perform a small test on some scrap material or in an inconspicuous spot to make sure this transfer method is compatible with your printer and materials.
Prewash and dry your fabric - this gets rid of some of the excess dye in your fabric, and the preshrunk fabric will hold its shape better
Step 2: Prep Work
In this instrucable the artwork I am using is a Caduceus shape - by Retoucher07030 on deviant art I removed some of the smaller feather lines above the snake head since I didn't think I could reproduce such fine detail in thread. Leave some excess space around the artwork, so don't print it tight in the corner of the page.
Reverse you artwork if necessary and print it using a laser printer on normal paper. Cut out your design - leave some extra space when cutting around the design because the tape may be dissolved by the acetone.
Tape the design, printed side down, onto the fabric.
Step 3: The Magic
Using a cotton ball apply the acetone to the back of the paper, just enough that you can see through the paper. Apply firm pressure and rub the paper with the back (not edge) of a spoon. Rub left to right for a while then switch to up and down. You want to make sure the paper does not shift in relation to the fabric and you do not want the paper so wet that it tears. Overlap the areas you are rubbing with the spoon, you want to make sure you don't miss a spot.
The acetone will evaporate or will be absorbed by the fabric, if the paper starts looking dry apply more acetone from the cotton ball. Working quickly I got 3 or 4 applications from a cotton ball dosed once from the bottle. I found I got the best transfer by removing the paper when it was wet.
Step 4: Embroider
Wait a few minutes for the transfer to set, then iron some interfacing to the back. Now it is ready to put into the embroidery hoop. The interfacing and hoop help to keep the fabric taught so you can pull the stitches tight without puckering the fabric. I used an outline stitch for the staff and feathers and a satin stitch for the snakes.
Needle come up through 1A, down through fabric 1B, Up through 2A down through 2B etc. Bring the needle up through the fabric slightly behind where it just went down on the previous stitch. This causes a small overlap in the stitches on the top side and a solid outline. Keep the stitches short, especially around curves.
Tight side by side stitches. Easy to understand with pictures. You can see a good tutorial on the satin stitch here or here When working around the curves I found it easier to bring the needle up on the inside (tight) side of the curve.
The finished patch was for the pocket of a Dr. Horrible jacket (instructable for that is finally finished) .