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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Embroidery Book Reviews: Iron-on Transfers


Amazon Books

I mentioned in yesterday’s post (the beginning of a monogrammed linen guest towel) that, to make my embroidery classes a little easier this summer, and to eliminate the time for transferring designs, I decided to go with iron-on transfers. I think there’s a knack to ironing on a transfer – you’d think it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I’m finding that it actually is.

As I started looking for suitable iron-on transfer books for the embroidery classes, I concentrated on monograms first. We’re embroidering a selection of different household linens, and monograms always work great for any kind of linen in the home, I think. Even kitchen towels are suitable for a monogram! (Like this monogrammed kitchen towel my mom received for her wedding 51 years ago, hand embroidered by a friend – and it’s still being used!)

I started searching, and I came up with several iron-on monogram books that I purchased, to add to a few books I already have.

First off, are two books by Leisure Arts, called Monograms & More, and Monograms & More, Book 2.

Iron-on Monograms: Monograms and More from Leisure Arts

I like both books a lot – there’s quite a variety of styles of monograms in both books.

Iron-on Monograms: Monograms and More, Book 2, from Leisure Arts

If I were selecting one or the other, between the two books, I think I like Book 2 best. I took the “B” from the sample I’m working from an alphabet in Book 2. I’m glad I got the first one, though, too, because now I have a wide variety of alphabets.

I also picked up Repeats and Borders, by Dover Publications.

Iron-on Repeats and Borders from Dover Publications

This is a great book, chockful of iron-on designs for borders, with corners and everything. They range from simple borders to much more complex ones, like the one pictured on the cover. There are “cutesy” little borders (animals, fish, etc.) and sophisticated, stylized borders.

I haven’t tried ironing on a repeat pattern yet. That seems like a complex undertaking, if you want to get it just right. Most of the items we’re working, though, don’t require a long border. I’m thinking more in terms of small designs in corners.

Finally, I also picked up this Fun and Funky Embroidery Designs, also published by Leisure Arts. The designs are just that – fun, and a little funky in some parts. There are a few alphabets included as well.

Iron-on Repeats and Borders from Dover Publications

Besides the above books, I also have in my own stash several of the Mains et Merveilles magazines, which are French publications full of iron-on transfers of neat designs. Hedgehog Handworks used to carry a larger selection of these, but I notice they are down to offering just one issue now. They are beautiful and excellent magazines, if you can get your hands on them. In fact, that’s a magazine I’d love to subscribe to, but my limited French can’t assist me in finding out how to do so! I can’t seem to find out if they are still being published – anyone know??

And finally, I’ve got another tiny little French-published book of iron-on monograms that are small, perfect for hankies.

So that’s basically what we’re using for patterns for this summer’s classes, with the exception of a few projects which are hand drawn, and a few embroidered greeting cards (also hand-drawn).

If you’re looking for iron-on transfers for your own monogrammed or decorated stuff, you might want to check out the books available from Leisure Arts. They’re fun and pretty, and economical (well, they’ll save you a lot of time, anyway!).

Back to playing catch-up with my needle ‘n thread!


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(10) Comments

  1. You said: “I think there’s a knack to ironing on a transfer” and I read the whole post entry hoping you would tell what you discovered, but, alas, it only told about great transfer books…….I would like to know if you have tips for the ironing process. Thanks

  2. Ah, you know, Eydie, I meant to go back and edit that! My first intent for this post was to go through the iron-on process with photos. But my photos were lousy! I had a couple pictures of blunders, but no good “do it right” photos. I’ll be transferring some designs over the next couple days and will fill out this subject with a photo tutorial – including how to repeat a pattern, which is really the only really tricky part to iron-ons…. in fact, that was the biggest blunder!

    But thanks for pointing it out, and I promise a follow-up post soon, with tips about iron-ons.

  3. Oh, Mary! What have you done, introducing me to Mains et Merveilles magazines?! I’m so over Ondori now! LOL! Not really, but oooh man! Be still my heart!

    There are quite a few to be found here…


    The site above sort of leads me to believe that one would be able to subscribe still, because they say they are selling a “current” issue. Or they were, it’s sold out now.

    Perhaps if you wrote to the folks at Violarium.com they could tell you how to subscribe.

    It’s odd too, if the magazine is still running, that Amazon.fr doesn’t show anything when you do a search.

    And although Ebay.fr has a handful of Mains et Merveilles items, I can’t really tell what the issue dates are. I can’t tell if they ship to the states either. :-/


  4. Hi, Terry – The problem with the inkjet transfers is that you are leaving an actual plastic-ish kind of residue on the fabric. It’s like an iron-on decal. So you’re not just getting the design outline – you’re getting the whole decal!

    I personally wouldn’t use it under embroidery, but other people might – and maybe they’ve had good results from it. I’d love to hear about it, if so! I think quilters use it to transfer a whole image (like a vintage photo or something on a crazy quilt).

  5. I am going to be a grandma for the first time this spring and I want a birth announcement hand embroidery pattern where I choose from different pictures and wording. Thanks. Bev

  6. Hi just wondering how I can order your iron on transfers? I’m interested in monograms book #2 I have tried many stores in the Vancouver area with nothing found. Thank you.

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