How do I transfer a printable PDF embroidery pattern?

Our favorite ways to transfer a PDF pattern

Woo-hoo! You just picked up a digital embroidery pattern. Perhaps it was the FREE Stitching Raccoon Sampler. You’re so excited to get stitching! But wait, how are you going to transfer the PDF pattern to the fabric so you can start stitching? Don't worry, we’ve got your back with this step-by-step tutorial for two of our favorite ways to transfer a digital embroidery pattern to fabric.

Transfer Method #1 - Tracing

Tracing a pattern onto fabric is probably the most traditional method of transferring a pattern, and for good reason. It gets the job done and is inexpensive. Here’s how you’ll use the tracing method to transfer your embroidery pattern.

Step 1: Place your printed pattern on a flat surface with the pattern facing up. Tape the pattern down so it doesn’t move - we like to use painter’s tape for this.  

trace pattern stitching raccoon sampler

Step 2: Lay your fabric on top of the pattern and tape it down. If you can’t see the pattern through your fabric, try using a light box, or taping it to a window on a bright day. 

Step 3: Using a water erasable pen, or a pencil, trace the pattern onto your fabric. Be sure to include all of the details! 

tracing the Stitching Raccoon Sampler with a water soluble marker

Tips for tracing:

  • We like a water erasable marker as it easily comes off with just a dab of water. However, if you don’t have one, it’s not a problem, you can just as easily use a pencil. We like to use mechanical pencils for tracing as they have a sharper point. 
  • A lighter color fabric works best for the tracing method. A darker piece of fabric will be difficult to see the pattern through. See our 2nd transfer method if you’re using a darker fabric.
  • Taping the pattern down first, and then taping the fabric on top will help prevent shifting while you’re tracing. This is especially helpful with larger, detailed patterns.

Transfer Method #2 - Sulky Stick’n Stitch

Sulky Stick’n Stitch is the best kept secret in embroidery. It’s a great way to transfer your PDF embroidery patterns, and it is also an embroidery stabilizer. Two for one! Sulky Stick’n Stitch comes in 8 ½ x 11 inch sheets that can go through most home printers (both laser and ink jet) then sticks right to your fabric, so you can get to stitching faster! 

Sulky Stick'n Stitch

Step 1: Print your pattern onto a sheet of Stick’n Stitch. Be sure to print on the rough side, not the smooth side. You'll also want to be sure to use the pattern that's facing the correct way, not the reversed pattern.

sulky stick'n stitch printing stitching raccoon sampler

Step 2: Cut the pattern out, leaving about an inch of space all the way around the pattern. Peel off the back of the Stick'n Stitch and stick it onto the fabric like a sticker.

Sulky stick'n stitch sticking raccoon stitch sampler to fabric

Step 3: Start stitching! You'll stitch through both the fabric and the Stick'n Stitch.

Sulky stick'n stitch stitching raccoon stitch sampler embroidery

Removing the Stick’n Stitch from the fabric:

Step 4: When you’re done stitching, cut off any excess Stick’n Stitch and run the finished piece under warm water to dissolve the Stick’n Stitch. Alternatively, you can also soak the fabric in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. You will likely have to change the water and soak it a couple of times to dissolve all of the Stick’n Stitch. 

Sulky stick'n stitch stitching raccoon stitch sampler embroidery dissolve

Ironing the final piece:

Step 5: While the fabric is still wet, place it upside down on a fluffy towel and press with dry heat from the back. The towel will cushion your stitches from becoming flat and also absorb the water. This will also begin the drying process for your fabric.

Sulky stick'n stitch stitching raccoon stitch sampler embroidery iron

Tips for Sulky Stick’n Stitch

  • When dissolving the Stick’n Stitch, we like to gently rub each of the stitches to remove any Stick’n Stitch from underneath. Be sure to rinse well to wash away all the stabilizer. 
  • Sulky Stick’n Stitch can be printed with either an inkjet or laser printer. 
  • This is a great option for transferring a pattern to darker fabrics!

Transfer Method #3 - Pre-printed fabric

Okay, so this isn’t technically a transfer method, but if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of transferring a pattern, we’ve got your back. You can get the Stitching Raccoon Sampler and other designs as an embroidery kit that comes with a pre-printed piece of fabric that’s all ready to stitch. You’ll also get all of the supplies you need to complete the pattern along with easy-to-read instructions. Don’t need all the supplies? We offer a fabric-only option too!


Grab your supplies today:


Sulky stick'n stitch



shop stick'n stitch




water soluble marker



shop water soluble marker




pocket skein embroidery floss



shop pocket skein embroidery floss



Stitching Raccoon Sampler embroidery kit


Beth Sauer

Thank you for sharing “how to transfer a pattern” again. I didn’t think to save it before as I was just getting back into embroidery but now I am ready to seriously start embroidering again. And, I will be saving “how to transfer” a design. Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!

Denise Maas

Thank you for your help and instructions.

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