What is a fat quarter?
Fat quarters are a common cut of fabric found in quilt shops and typically measure 21 inches x 18 inches. They are made by cutting one yard of fabric in half both lengthwise and crosswise. Check out our fat quarter bundles here.

Iron-on transfer

An iron-on transfer is a piece of paper printed with a heat transferable ink. Using an iron-on transfer is the quickest and easiest way to transfer a design onto your fabric. All of our paper hand embroidery patterns include an iron-on transfer. Yay! You can check them out in our Stitch section.

Water-soluble marker

A wash away marker commonly used to trace a Printable PDF embroidery pattern onto fabric. After you've finished your embroidery, dab the lines with a damp cloth and the marker will disappear.

FriXon pen

My new favorite tool! FriXion pens by Pilot are normal ink pens but with heat sensitive ink. They are great to use when you want to trace a Printable PDF embroidery pattern onto fabric. After stitching, run a hot iron over the lines and the ink disappears. It does leave a transparent residue, so try to mark only the areas that are going to be stitched over. Also, if the ink gets cold (as if placed in a refrigerator) the ink may reappear and needs to be ironed again to make it disappear.

6-strand embroidery floss

Embroidery floss is a loosely twisted thread that comes in 6 strands. It is manufactured by several companies including DMC, Cosmo, Anchor, and Presencia and comes in hundreds of colors and styles. The most common style is 6-strand mercerized cotton embroidery floss. Mercerized cotton refers to the process the cotton floss goes through to give the cotton strength, luster, and the ability to better hold onto dye. Other styles of floss include metallic, satin, or even glow-in-the-dark floss. For hand embroidery, the 6 strands in the floss are commonly separated into less strands to achieve different line weights. For our embroidery patterns and kits, we recommend separating the strands in half and using 3 strands when stitching.

Perle (or Pearl) cotton floss

Perle cotton is a decorative floss made of 2 tightly twisted strands that cannot be separated in the same way that the 6-strand embroidery floss can be. Perle cotton is great for blanket stitching an edge or for hand quilting.

Embroidery stabilizers

Embroidery stabilizers are typically used on the back of fabric to keep the fabric from stretching during the embroidery process. You don't need to use a stabilizer for hand embroidery however it can be very useful when stitching on a tricky fabric like a stretchy t-shirt. Embroidery stabilizers can also be used as an embroidery transfer tool (learn more on our Embroidery Tips page). There are 4 basic types of embroidery stabilizer and they relate to how you remove the stabilizer when you’re done embroidering. They are cut-away (or permanent), tear-away, heat-away, and water soluble. There are also different types of ways they can be attached to fabric including sew-in, stick-on, and fusible or iron-on. It’s important to get the right combination of “putting on” and “taking off”. At Penguin & Fish we like to use tear-away fusible embroidery stabilizer. Two different brands are Pellon’s Fuse-N-Tear and Sulky’s Totally Stable.