How to Transfer your Pattern Using the Lightbox Method

Welcome to this embroidery tutorial on how to transfer your embroidery design using the lightbox method. This is my preferred method, I like to use my iPad as my light box and then use an app called ‘Trace Table’ to be able to import my design, scale it to the size that I need for my hoop, and then lock the screen with just one click of a button. You can use ‘guided access’ settings for free, but this app is only a couple of dollars, and the ease of use and just being able to lock and unlock my screen with a click of a button is totally worthwhile in my mind.

Transferring your design using an iPad

1. Make sure you have prepared your hoop beforehand. I like to use a black fine liner Pilot Frixion pen to trace my patterns. There are some pros and cons, so maybe do your research if you live in a really cold climate, because the writing can sometimes can come back in the cold.

2. If you are new to this technique and you are worried about the design moving as you are tracing it, grab some washi tape and make double-sided pieces and just pop four on the ‘corners’ of your hoop and use that to tack down your hoop onto your iPad. I

3. Now you’re going to start tracing very slowly with your pen. As you can imagine, it’s very different using a pen on fabric, than it is for paper, so do short sharp kind of ‘sketching’ strokes, just to make sure that your ink is coming out nicely out of the pen. This helps you to be a bit more accurate with your tracing. It doesn’t need to be completely perfect, as we’re going to remove the lines when you finish stitching using an iron or a hair straightener, but it does make it a lot easier to stitch if your design is accurate. If your design is a little bit more detailed, you might find it helpful to just focus on transferring the big items and the key parts of the design and then eyeballing in those smaller parts of the design afterwards. 

4. If you’re struggling to see well go into a darker room so that light really shines through the fabric. Or turn up the brightness on your device.

5. If you want to, you can flip your design over and prep your hoop again, it’s really personal preference. Most of the time I leave it as it was when I traced it, but if you like to have your hoop the regular way you can totally just readjust it, turn it around the right way and then just re-tighten it, so it’s ready for sewing. 

Transferring onto dark or black fabric

I get a lot of questions about “what if I want to transfer a design onto a dark or black colored fabric?” So the first thing I would do is swap over your contrast on your iPad. I’ve also been recommended to use a Bohin Extra Fine Chalk Pacer, it shows up on the fabric in a white colour really nicely. It’s not a Frixion pen so it doesn’t disappear with heat, it’s kind of just like using a pencil on fabric. It’s a nice, cheap alternative to using other methods. You just do everything exactly the same, try and trace it exactly the same as with a Frixon or other pen.

How to use guided access settings on your iPad

For those wanting to use guided access settings on your iPad, it works just as well as the app ‘Trace Table’ it’s just a little bit more fiddly in my mind. 

  • Go into ‘accessibilities’ in the settings.
  • Select ‘guided access’ and set it all up, putting a passcode on. 
  • Then go back to your photos, upload whichever one you’re wanting to design, scale it up to the size that you want it to be using your hoop (as in the photo on the right). 
  • Click the home button three times.
  • To get out of that locked position, you’re just going to click the home button three times, enter the passcode you set before and then your iPad is back to normal. 
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