Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Playing Around with Transfer-Eze


The question of transferring hand embroidery designs to fabric is a mighty one. I’ve discussed it quite a bit here on Needle ‘n Thread, because it is the Most Frequently Asked Embroidery Question from beginners.

And gosh, let’s face it. We’re all looking for the dream method of design transfer – that perfect way to get the design precisely and as painlessly as possible onto the fabric, in such a way that it is invisible on the finished product, but easy to see – in all its detail – while the project is being stitched. This dream method, by the way, doesn’t exist absolutely – there are a variety of methods for transferring patterns, and which one you choose often depends upon the type of embroidery project you’re working.

That being said, my curiosity was piqued by this stuff called Transfer-eze. Lately, there’s been some buzz about this new product, which is supposed to make all the anguish over transferring designs to fabric magically disappear. It is, in effect, an adhesive water-soluble, printable stabilizer. I thought it essential to procure some of the stuff with the eventual intention of trying it out, so when Wooly Thread announced that they carry it, I bought some so that I could try it out and tell you about it.

Transfer-eze for transferring hand embroidery patterns to fabric

See the needle in the photo above? It’s resting on a piece of Transfer-eze printed with the holly boughs embroidery pattern I posted yesterday. You can see the kind of “fuzzy-shiney” matter of the stuff in the photo. It looks like – and feels like – a light-to-medium weight fusible interfacing. The Transfer-eze adheres to paper (freezer paper, I assume) that supports it while it feeds through your ink-jet printer.

Transfer-eze for transferring hand embroidery patterns to fabric

I enlarged the holly boughs pattern slightly before I printed it. I also reduced the opacity of the design, so that the lines were not as dark as they would be when printed on normal paper at the normal setting. The printable size of the Transfer-eze is 8.5″ x 11″ – standard American letter-sized. It feeds through the printer so that the rough side (the stuff itself, not the paper upon which it is mounted) takes the printing. I had no problem in the printing of the stuff. It went through the printer fine – though the ink did blot up on the edge a tad, but I believe that is due to the design running up to the left edge of the paper.

Transfer-eze for transferring hand embroidery patterns to fabric

After printing the design, the instructions say to cut away the excess Transfer-Eze around the design. I did this. And then I situated the design where I wanted it, on the corner of a flour sack towel. I use the large “deluxe” flour sack towels from American Chair Store, because, quite simply, they are the best flour sack towels I’ve come across. They’re square, large, a nice firm weave (not gauzy), and they make a nice liner for a large bread basket, with plenty of towel left over to fold over warm bread. This is really the only thing I ever use embroidered flour sack towels for. Think gift here, especially for wedding showers, house warmings, special visits, and so forth – a basket, lined with an embroidered towel, filled with some necessities, or goodies and a bottle of wine or some coffee, with the towel folded on top showing off the embroidery. It’s my standard special occasion gift. Invite me for dinner, and you’ll see!

Sorry for the aside. Really, I’m not trying to garner dinner invitations.

So there we are, with the design resting where it’s going to be stitched.

Transfer-eze for transferring hand embroidery patterns to fabric

The next step is to peel the Transfer-Eze off the paper backing. This reveals the adhesive side of the stuff. It isn’t a super-strong adhesive. But you can definitely see it here – it’s shiny and a bit tacky (as in sticky).

Once you’ve peeled the paper backing away, you situate the Transfer-Eze where you want it on your fabric, sticky-side down, and smooth it out onto the fabric, so that it adheres. If you make a mistake in the placement of the stuff, you can carefully peel it off and re-situate it.

Transfer-eze for transferring hand embroidery patterns to fabric

The Transfer-Eze adheres to the fabric like a thin film that feels, again, a lot like a fusible interfacing.

Some reviews online mention that there is really no noticeable difference between stitching with or without the Transfer-Eze, as far as the feel is concerned, and as far as any sticky gunk building up on the needle. So far, this hasn’t been my experience precisely. There is definitely a noticeable difference between stitching with Transfer-Eze and stitching without it. This doesn’t mean that it’s a negative difference, but the stuff is certainly noticeable! It stiffens up the fabric quite a bit – so much so, that I find a hoop redundant. I can hold the fabric with the Transfer-Eze on it in my left hand, and it pretty much holds itself out straight and stiff. It makes for a firm fabric surface, but it isn’t difficult to stitch through. Stitching is easy enough, and there is no gunky build up on the needle.

If you’re used to seeing the weave of your fabric when you stitch, you won’t with Transfer-Eze. It’s opaque. If you’re used to stitching with the sewing method, and manipulating your fabric into a fold or bend with certain stitches, this becomes somewhat difficult with the Transfer-Eze, especially if you’re working very small stitches. With average sized stitches, though, it is manageable.

It requires a little more gusto with the needle, to get through the Transfer-Eze – a little more force to take a stitch… but not enough to be uncomfortable.

For me, the proof of Transfer-Eze’s usefulness will be in the final outcome of the piece. I will be interested to see if, when all is said and done, and the stuff is washed away, my stitching looks ok, and the fabric itself is as smooth as it would be, had I stitched straight on the fabric held in a hoop.

One thing that I am certain of: because Transfer-Eze is made of I-don’t-know-what, and because it is supposed to be a water-soluble transfer medium, it is not something I would use on fine embroidery. I don’t mind using it on cotton, with cotton threads, on pieces that will normally have to undergo washing. But since I don’t know what kind of residue is left (maybe not visible… but residue nonetheless) and because I don’t know the long-term effects of such chemical substances on threads and textiles, I would not venture to use Transfer-Eze as a transfer medium on fine embroidery projects that involve, for example, silk and pricey linen.

But so far, for this kind of embroidery project, I have to admit, it was pretty easy-peasy, setting the whole thing up! I mean, really. What could be easier – print the design, stick it to the fabric, and start stitching. No bother with a hoop, no tracing…. in a minute or so, you’re good to go. So for ease of use, on items that are meant to be washed, I think the stuff is pretty good.

I’ll follow up with the results once I finish stitching the holly and rinse the stuff away. In fact, I’ll line it up to some similar embroidery, done without Transfer-Eze, if possible. Just to see, you know….. After all, the finished product is what it’s all about!

If you want to try out Transfer-Eze for yourself, you can find it available at Wooly Thread.

I’ll share the finish with you on this project in the upcoming days, and let you know my final impressions of the product.

What about you? Have you had any experience with Transfer-Eze? Do you have any input on using this type of product with your embroidery? If so, please do leave a comment!

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(52) Comments

  1. Hi Mary,

    I recently bought a few sheets of Transfer-Eze at a needlework shop while on a visit to family in Texas. I have just finished stitching two 3×3″ (separately) monograms, using DMC Perle Cotton no. 5.

    I had no problem with the printing process, or applying the T-E to my fabric – a white linen twill. My experience of needle through fabric corresponds exactly to yours.

    When finished I placed the fabric in cold water and in a couple of minutes all of the T-E had disappeared, leaving no sticky feel residue, or visible marks. I rolled the twill in a towel to blot it well, and then put it back in its hoop to dry. There are no visible puckers in the fabric after drying and the threads are shiny and the stitching even.

    I would not hesitate to use T-E again, on small to medium projects (maximum 12×12) as this method saved me time and effort.

    I will be doing a trial piece using it on silk dupion and will let you know how it works out!

  2. Yes, I have used the water-soluble with hand embroidery and it “does” leave a residue so you are right in assuming that it is a good idea to use “transfer ease” on items that can be washed or will be washed often. I do a lot of machine embroidery also and use water soluble sticky a lot for items for ease of hooping. Putting it through the printer is a great! Thanks for everything you do!

  3. Hi Mary,

    It just sounds too good to be true doesn’t it! I haven’t tried transfer-eze, but I recently had my first experience cross stitching with water soluble canvas onto a fabric that wasn’t evenweave. The finished result was passable, but not great, the stitch tension was not quite right, when I “rinsed” the canvas away, the tension seems just a tiny bit loose. Also, I did notice that the area that was stitched felt rather stiff, as though it had been washed in starch. I am not sure if this eventually softened up after repeated washing (I stitched a motive on a t-shirt for my niece, must ask my sister if she noticed any difference). I am curious to see if you will encounter a similar problems with tension and stiffness with this product.

  4. Mary
    Thanks for this, interesting and useful. You are welcome to come for dinner anytime here, its rather a long way though, Assen Netherlands !!
    Merry Christmas.

  5. thanks for such a thorough review of the product.
    I probably won;t use it,lol. You are right, there really isn;t a “dream” transfer method, although i have to say that the old sheets of dressmakers carbon that used to come in all the colors came pretty close.

    I have a ton of the American Chair Towels and like you find them to be good quality.

  6. Mary this product certainly looks interesting and from your critique thus far I would like to give it a try. I do a great deal of embroidery on children’s clothing and think it may be just what I have been looking for.
    Once again thanks for sharing.
    Linda A

  7. I have recently used Transfer-Eze on a towel using a Christmas design by Bird Brain. Loved it!!! Just run the design through the printer, peel off the backing and press onto the towel or design area.Needles beautifully and washes out within seconds. Bird Brain also sells the product. This is the best thing on the market for transferring. As you can see I am very happt with the product!!

  8. Mary, I’ve only bought one package of Transfer-eze and I love it! Some tips: It’s a little pricey so I print out several designs on regular paper, then cut them out and tape them to another piece of paper, then scan that and print the scan on the transfer-eze so I have a few designs on one sheet. The directions say to soak for 15 minutes in cold water. I recommend an hour!!! That’s to get all the residue off. It’s particularly good for dark fabrics.


  9. I will be very interested in your final conclusions – after your piece is done.

    I’ve been tempted several times, but have not purchased it yet. Marking with pencil and a light hand, or water/air soluble pencil (on cotton with cotton threads) has been my solution so far. I have wondered if this would be useful, though, for dark fabrics.



  10. I always make sure all my lines get covered with stitching like you would on a stamped design, because I use a sheet from an old box of carbon paper I acquired to transfer a pattern. It is a nice crisp transfer, easy to trace and easy to see, but it does show up if you don’t cover it. Still, it works for me.

  11. I’ll be anxious to see how it works for you when all is done. I have a special project in mind and so far, my attempts to transfer the pattern have been disappointing. I may just need to use a different fabric, but I haven’t given up yet.

  12. Hello Mary ~ After purchasing a sheet of Transfer-Ez, I have not tried it yet. I was very happy to have your report and see the comments from others. Since the designs I will be using are on the smaller size, I want to scan 2-3 on one page, to print onto the Transfer-Ez rather than wasting a page for one small design.
    Sulky also has a new product for the same purpose ( sent you a separate email about it ) it is called Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It is also ‘self-adhesive and printable’. It can be used for many applications.
    I think I need to get busy, use the Transfer-Ez and the Sulky product, transfer onto those nice flour sack towels I bought from Arm Chair to have ready, in case someone invites ME to dinner or for next Christmas
    Very Merry Holidays to All ~

  13. Hi Mary…
    Your pictures are sooo good! What camera do you use?(It’s on my Christmas list)
    Merry Christmas…

  14. Thanks for the review!
    I too bought a package not long ago but have not tried it yet, though I’m very curious about it and looking forward to experimenting with it on very dark color fabrics or on a fabric to thick to see through with a light box.

  15. I love Transfer-Ez. I use it all the time for my tea towels. You do not have to cut out any access unless you want to. But, be careful with stitches. They must be firm. Because after you wash (lets say a tea towel) you can get lumpy/loose stitches(not a pretty site). I had that happen on one tea towels (and had to redo). Found this out from another blog site. And, if you can not get it to stick, just try a little drop of water (yes some will desolve) but press the transfer-ez and it will stick. That’s why you don’t want to cut around the design.

  16. I have used dissolvable stabilizer held with 505 fabric adhesive in essentially the same manner, although I did not find it to be as stiff as Transfer-eze was for you.

  17. Recently I used Transfer-Eze on a quilt square I embroidered. The was a time crunch in getting the square done as the quilte was to be given to someone following surgery. I had to do the square while traveling. I used MS PowerPoint and clipart to create the basic design and to add the lettering I wanted to embroider. The type of embroidery I did on the square was Brazilian Embroidery using EdMar threads on trigger cloth. I had no problem stitching through the T-E using a relatively small weight of thread (Iris). I would not use a thread that was loosely wound. My thumb did get sore but I suspect it was from stitching about 8 hours a day for 2 days to complete the design in time. I had to washout the square in a hotel sink and did not have any problems with a residue remaining on the cloth. All lines disappeared, including those that were not used when I changed the design on the fly. I will use Transfer-Eze again for a project like this, especially one with a fairly large amount of text.

  18. Thanks very much for you input on using Transfer-Eze and similar products, everyone!

    I should probably have clarified that I’ve used other water-soluble stabilizers, too, before – solvy, in particular. The difference is the printability of Transfer-Eze and the fact that it’s sticky, so it adheres to the fabric and you don’t have to baste it on.

    Birdbrain Designs does have a good tutorial on using Transfer-Eze, so check it out if you have a chance! It’s here: http://birdbraindesigns.blogspot.com/2010/07/transfer-eze-embroidery-magic.html

    When I show you the finished project, I’ll link up to several other reviews and tutorials…

    CJ – the camera… for these pictures, I used a point-and-shoot Olympus Stylus 800. It’s about five years old, but it’s a great little camera for portability and for macro shots. I also use an Olympus EP-1 quite often. It depends pretty much on where I’m working and what I’m working on.

    Thanks again for all your input, folks! I’ll finish up this little project today and share the outcome early next week!


  19. Merry Xmas Mary!, you are right . there is no perfect transfer method. I currently transferred a pattern using light blue tracing paper on silk faille or ribbed silk. The fabric is medium weight. The trouble I had was that the tracing paper rubs easily on the sticky texture of silk. Although, it seems to sort of dust off with a cloth. But , I dont know of any better method to trace on this fine fabric. Also, the pattern involves tiny flowers. Any suggestions? Diane

    1. Hi, Diane – Concerning the silk, have you tried tacking stitches to transfer your design? With “difficult” fabrics, sometimes that’s the best method. For the detail areas, just make the tacking stitches a little smaller. It’s a pain to “stitch twice” but it does give an accurate transfer. Hope that helps! ~MC

  20. Thank you so much for the wonderful experiment with Transfer-Eze. It certainly made my life a little easier. After reading of your experience with the product, I have decided that it is definitely not for the thread painting project I am starting in January. Good old hard lead pencil will have to work for me.
    Two different people have told me in the last week how glad they are that I turned them onto your website. (Now I wonder if they sit in front of their computer while viewing your tutorials and follow along with hoop, needle and thread….)
    Linda O.

  21. Hello Mary !

    First of all I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And thank you for your wonderful blog, it’s a gold mine !

    I use lots of transfer methods and my trickiest problem is what to use on black fabric (specially on silk). Up till now I’ve used white carbon paper (the one used for sewing) with various results, depending on how smooth the fabric is. As I’m used to the pristine kind of result on white or clear fabric (I generally use the light table method, which is slow but perfectly efficient), I’m often very unsatisfied with the messy carbon method (leaves thick lines, marks too little in curves, etc.)

    My question is : does TE work when printing very clear marks on it ? Are the clear lines ‘readable’ when stuck onto fabric ?

    Thanks a lot for your review,


    1. Hi, all – Thanks for your comments and questions!

      Linda – Thanks for recommending Needle ‘n Thread to your friends. I’m glad they like it! Yes, I don’t think I’d use T-E for needlepainting. It works best, I think, for outline stitching.

      Miriam – If you’re design is clear when you print it on paper, it’ll be just as clear on the T-E, even the small elements.

      Hope that helps!


  22. I’ve used transfer-eze on three projects so far and I really like it. I agree that if I were doing work on silk or something like that, I’d probably not use it, but for cotton floss on a canvas tote-bag, a flour sack towel and a pair of my daughter’s jeans, it works really well and does take the headache out of transferring the design.

  23. Hey Mary!

    I’m busy doing a my little pony duvet covet for my niece i just use normal carbon paper that you would use for paper it works so far. I just pin the picture to the carbon and then pin it to the material where i want the picture to be. I want to show you what iv’e done so far it is my first attempt of embroidery and i thought i would make it for my niece. iv’e never done embroidery before. How could i show you and where could i post the pics?

  24. Hi, Mary and Others

    May I ask any of you who have tried this product – is it possible to draw freehand on it, ie, not put it through the printer? I have great trouble transferring my own designs to fabric and would appreciate the help. And if anyone knows a really good way to transfer freehand designs to fabric that will not be able to be soaked in water, I would be a very happy woman.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi, Christina – I haven’t tried drawing on transfer-eze. I’ve done that with water-soluble solvy, though, and it worked ok, drawing with a permanent marker. But I’d test it first with the fabric and thread you plan to use. For transferring on fabric that won’t be soaked, I like using either a very fine hard lead pencil or a very fine micron art pen, as long as the lines are going to be covered up. For projects that I consider “major” (like church embroidery projects), I use prick and pounce, and then go over the pounce lines with a very tiny brush, using water color paints.

      Hope that helps!


  25. Hello Mary,
    I used Transfer Eze on a Christmas Stocking. Unfortunately, I must have placed it on the pressed fabric while it was a bit warm as I have had trouble getting it off once the project was stitched. It just sat on the top. I tried scraping, put it in acetone. I have the gunk left on the fabric and it looks a mess. I would certainly appreciate any tips on getting this off of my project if any of your readers have suggestions. Thank you.

    1. Hi, Joyce – I had a student who used it, didn’t soak it very long, and then ironed the piece after it dried, so that the embroidery ended up stiff as a board and gunky. She took it back home and soaked it in warm water for an hour then washed the piece with a mild soap, rinsed it thoroughly, and all came out well. So I’d try a very long soak in warm water, followed by washing with mild detergent like Ivory, and a good rinse. Hopefully, that will do it… MC

  26. I used this product when making a embroidered picture for my daughter. I had her send me a picture of my grandson reading a book…which he LOVES to do. I then printed the picture on this paper and stuck it to fabric. I embroidered my grandson reading his book and framed the finished work. They were very pleased and what a unique gift. One of the best parts is it’s very inexpensive that will last a lifetime.

  27. I am NOT a super experienced needlecrafter. However, I did have opportunity to use the Transfer-Eze. It worked extremely well for the project I needed to transfer. It was a black on purple and when photocopied it came up light enought on the Transfer-Eze that I could finally stitch my project. ( because I could see it!)

    I was very pleased with the product. A bit pricey but for me well worth it.

    Respectfully Submitted,


  28. I am NOt a super experienced embrodierer. However, I did have opportunity to use Transfer-Eze. It worked extremely well for my project.

    A bit pricey, but for me, well worth it.

  29. I have just purchased this stuff from the Wooly Thread. I found the above information very helpful and as you say try it and see. Jean

  30. following on from my comment yesterday, I printed my pattern on to the Transfer eze, worked my embroidered outline. I found it tough going at the start, with the resistance to the needle, eventually I forgot it was there and stitched normally. I did not use a hoop where as I always have done.With stitching complete I ran the stitched work under running cold water for about 10 minutes. The film was completely gone, no sticky residue, no running of any ink. I had a disaster last week when my blue pen with which I had drawn on soluble film ran on an embroidery which was beautiful and had taken a long time to execute. I will recommend this Transfer Eze to all my students. Jean

    1. Glad it worked well for you, Jean! Yes, once you get used to it, it’s easy to stick on. I use it without a hoop as well, as it stiffens up the fabric enough that a hoop isn’t necessary. ~MC

  31. I’ve just tried it and was a little unhappy. I was concerned about the stitches, since this is a 18″ x 18″ pattern the true results won’t be known for a while. Read your article and I too found stitching without the hoop helps. Thanks for the info.

  32. Hi,Mary
    Just wondering if you know if Transfer-Eze works just with ink jet printers…? I have a laser printer and have used Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy which I find does leave “gunk” on my needle and is actually quite difficult for me to stitch through…
    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Christine – I’m not sure. I’ve only used it with an inkjet. You might contact Bird Brain designs, as they were the first folks I noticed using it. I’d definitely test it first, and I’d make the design lines as light as possible when they print… MC

  33. My negeative comments is –How to you keep the ink from bleeding on your fabric when you soak it in cold water to remove the excess after doing your stitching? Other wise I love it.

  34. Dear Sue,
    On Sew it all you used your grandchildren’s drawings & transferred the image to a shirt.
    How was that done & with what products.
    Please send info.

  35. I use it on making embroidered quilt blocks. My problem is that my stitches after using look baggie and unkept. It really looks like I am a beginner at embroidery, which I am NOT. In fact it looks so bad that I am frustrated with the product and am searching for help, an answer or advise. Today, I read your entry and hope you can shed some light on the problem. I do lovely work and these blocks look terrible. Help anyone? I have changed amount of threads used to no avail. Alwyas sloppy looking.

  36. I’m a hand embroidery designer developing a full line of kits. I’ve done most of my commission work on clothing and was so excited to read about Transfer-Eze. Part of my dream is to design transfers and sell them in kit fashion for denim jackets, jeans, tops etc…. My students love the designs and are always asking me to draw on their clothing.

    I ordered 2 large packages to experiment with and the results have been a disaster! Printing was a breeze but the transfers will not stick to any item of cotton clothing I’ve tried. Even my thinnest most worn out cotton shirts! Mind you, everything is newly laundered and without a dryer sheet. I’ve tried cotton broadcloth with no avail….. only did it stick to an old piece of muslin! I called the company but nobody is getting back to me.

    Had anyone had this happen to them? Any ideas for a transfer idea that would work for a line drawing that I could market for the customer to hand embroider and wear?
    I’d be grateful for some advice!

    1. That’s very strange, Jen! I had good luck with transfer eze. Have you tried Solvy’s version of it? It’s called sticky Fabri-Solvy. It’s the same principle. Sounds like you might have better luck with traceable or iron on designs, though.

  37. Hi Mary,
    Just want to follow thru and say Mary Pierson from Transfer-Eze was very sweet and got back to me this evening. She said perhaps my product is older and that she’s found lightly pressing the fabric from behind with the transfer on front (use a dry iron) has done the trick quite nicely.
    I haven’t tried this yet but feel hopeful it’ll be the answer to my problem. I wanted to share this bit of advice with your fans as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

  38. I have used Transferez for a couple of years and love it! I just finished 12 squares of a quilt that all the squares were an intricate emb detail and it worked beautifully.
    Since I have started using this I no longer use a hoop except for those projects that require shading with crayons. I love hoop free embroidery and I find that it also keeps my emb piece from becoming soiled.
    I have recommended this to several friends and will continue to do so.

  39. Mary – I have used Transfer-Eze on 4 different pieces & love it. I am new to embroidery & was excited to find something that was so easy to transfer patterns with. I had no trouble dissolving it off the fabric following instructions. The fabric ironed well when the product was removed. I used it in 4 blocks for a wall hanging. I am doing one now that will be a medallion for a quilt center. I too lightened up the ink before printing but had no trouble in seeing the transfer. Tks for the info you post. It is very helpful. Kathy Jones

  40. Everything you said is true & I agree. Easy-peasy!! Love that part of it. But the finished item is not what I expected. Once rinsed away, the stitches seemed to stand up from the fabric, not lay flat against it like without the TE. Is this my error or is there something I am missing? I use a redwork needle & Sulky or Aurifil #12 threads. I don’t use embroidery floss. Could this be the problem? Your comments are welcome & I look forward to them. Thank you.

  41. I have used TransferEze quite a few times. I am making a crazy patch quilt for my daughter made of her old jeans and t-shirts. It’s not a typical crazy patch in that I am doing a rather large embroidery picture on each block, which is the focus. That’s what I use the transfer eze for, not the seam edge embroidery. So my fabric is primarily cotton and I’ve mostly used DMC floss. Although some metallic as well. It has worked extremely well for me. I agree to not using it on finer fabrics/projects. It has washed out and disappeared entirely everywhere I’ve used it.
    I’d attach a picture if I knew how!

  42. Re the use of Transfer-eze– I used it on a project. It’s so easy to set up everything but— I found after a while of stitching, it leaves a sticky substance on my needle. Not sure if I will use again. I agree, never use on fine linen.

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