An Old Traditional Method for Transferring Designs onto Linen

An Old Traditional Method for Transferring Designs onto Linen

Some time ago, an embroiderer enthusiastically told me that she accidentally discovered a detergent that easily removes pencil marks from white embroidered linen without leaving any residue.

She uses an old method for transferring the design outlines of her embroidery projects: using a #2 pencil, the design paper is blackened on the back side in the area of the outlines. With the blackened side positioned on the linen, the outlines are traced using a pen with a strong point (old pen or embossing pen), and thus it is transferred to the fabric.

This method has been in disuse more and more because the pencil lines have been very difficult to remove. Could there now be a remedy with a special detergent?

This method of design transfer sounded interesting. And since one only needs things that are normally close at hand anyway, I decided to test it.

At first I approached the matter a little tentatively and perhaps a little light-handedly. On the back of the tracing paper on which the pattern was printed, I slightly blackened the line areas with an #2 pencil.

With the blackened side down and using removable adhesive strips, the pattern is attached to the linen in the desired position. The outlines are transferred by tracing them firmly with an embossing tool or old pen (with no ink).

After removing the template, one can see that the outlines are recognizable but very weak.

But you can now easily trace over them with a #2 pencil.

If there are any flaws, you can simply erase those lines with a soft eraser.

Any eraser “crumbs” can be removed with a toothbrush.

I embroidered the pattern, even worked the filling pattern first, to see how long the outlines would last. They were easily recognizable to the end.

Nevertheless, I retraced the remaining lines so that I could better see whether they were actually being removed during the wash. It can also be clearly seen that the Coral knot stitches have absorbed the pencil marks quite a bit.

In the next post I will report how the pencil marks can be removed.

Since not everyone has the desired design outline on tracing paper, I did another test. This time it was printed on regular printer paper. With the design lying on a white background, one can see the lines on the back.

One can also hold the paper against a window or light box ­– then the lines can be seen much better.

The paper is blackened on the back side in the area of the outline. This time I wasn’t so tentative.

With the paper correctly positioned with the blackened side against the linen, the transfer begins with a pen – here with an old ballpoint pen empty of ink. I transferred the left side of the semicircle on a hard surface, the rest of the pattern on a slightly softer surface. Work was more pleasant on the latter.

After removing the template, one can see that there were hardly any differences in the intensity of the lines – all of them are clearly visible. The lines transferred on the soft surface are, however, more rounded.

The lines do not have to be redrawn – at least for the time being. One can start embroidering right away. This time, however, some lines had to be touched up during the work because they threatened to fade too much.

However, there is still a lot of pencil residue – especially under the Coral knot stitches – as can be clearly seen in the picture of the embroidery lying in the washing water.

Then I put pencil lines on various types of linen – unwashed industrial linen and washed old linen

and some of the lines are embroidered with Coral knot stitches.

Will they be easy to remove?

You will see the results in next week’s article.

Schwalm Bird Wedding Designs

Schwalm Bird Wedding Designs

For me bird motifs in Schwalm whitework are particularly attractive and extremely interesting. So I asked the designer Christa Waldmann to create a design in which bird representations play a major role. She has accomplished a masterly feat and designed a total of 14 different pairs of birds – always in conjunction with other suitable motifs typical for Schwalm whitework. Since the birds are always arranged in pairs, I called the drawings “bird wedding patterns.” As in nature, there are small and large, inconspicuous and eye-catching specimens. You can easily use the individual motif groupings for things like table runners or pillows.

Because I had so much fun embroidering these motifs, I embroidered them twice – once as a “bird wedding sampler” and then as a border around a square cloth. Visitors to my exhibition will surely have fond memories of both pieces.

Now I offer the extraordinary drawings in my shop for downloading. In addition to the original size motif groupings, the layout and dimensions for a sampler and examples of the arrangement of a square and an octagonal cloth can be found there.

Finally, thirty-four photos of the embroidered motif groupings will provide you with a lot of inspiration.

Bird Wedding Designs
• line-drawn designs
• 19 pages, text: English
• 7.48 MB file size
• in addition 34 images with examples of different embroidered bird motifs
• 25.00 EUR (incl. 7.00 % sales tax)
(23.36 EUR for customers outside the EU)



Easter is fast approaching, and celebrations this year will probably be very different from those of years past.

Easter customs are different worldwide. In Germany, the Easter rabbit places the Easter eggs into hidden nests.
In addition, rabbits are indigenous to many countries around the world. They were also widespread in the Schwalm. So why shouldn’t we integrate a rabbit motif into Schwalm embroidery?

Christa Waldmann designed a pattern:

You can download the design here:

A different, smaller design can be found in the article Hare Circle Dance.

Slightly modified I embroidered this new motif twice.

One rabbit body got a Limet grid

and was filled with the 2 pattern.

The mirrored counterpart was decorated with an openwork pattern.

Diagonal Cross Filling – French Variation/“half” (Openwork Pattern Samplers) was chosen.

Since the ears are very narrow, they were initially only edged with Coral Knot stitches. Then the thread withdrawing was made for a simple withdrawn thread pattern.

Wave stitches were embroidered.

Then Chain stitches for outlining and wrapped Chain stitches for dividing were worked.

Today the pair of rabbits greets you.

How about designing a complete rabbit family?

A Chain of Repeating Elements (2)

In the previous article I showed the spiral of Herta Schneider embroidered by Monika Wegener. One can change the design or add additional elements. half-eyelet scallops, 2 short-2 long stitches und Eyelash stitches are only some options.

Elements repeated in a row were also part of many Schwalm embroideries of the past, as the pictures of traditional pieces show.

In a piece from 1804 there is a row of Herringbone stitches, bordered with Stem stitches.

A work from 1827 includes staggered and mirrored Blanket stitch half-eyelet scallops along a row of Chain stitches.

A pillow case from 1842 has a line of undivided leaves on both sides of a Coral Knot stitch row,

a line of rounded leaves (representing feathers), and

rows of alternating tendrils and rounded leaves.

On a piece from 1866, there are leaves – arranged like tulips –

and we see them again alternating with tendrils.

Embroidery on a sleeve cuff embroidery 1895 shows leaves – arranged like hearts – alternating with tendrils.

The embroidery on the same sleeve cuff contains a row of Coral Knot stitch elements.

A very old bed covering with early Schwalm whitework is decorated with a row of tendrils along a curved line.

Of course, there could certainly be many more examples.

With these suggestions and a little imagination you can develop your own creations. I am happy to provide you with two basic spirals –

let your creativity shine!

I look forward to seeing your designs!