How To Use Tracing Paper On Fabric

Tracing paper is an integral tool for experienced and beginner embroiderers. It helps to transfer embroidery designs to different types of fabric quite easily. You can either use a lightweight tissue, actual tracing paper, or dressmaking carbon paper as your tracing paper.

How Do You Use Tracing Paper On Fabric?

To effectively use tracing paper on fabric, you need to first trace the design onto it. Afterward, place the tracing paper onto your fabric and transfer your design onto the fabric for embroidery.

You can use tracing paper on many types of fabric. Silk, leather, fine wool, and other fabrics that tear or stain easily are best suited for the tracing paper method.

Tools You Need To Use Tracing Paper On Fabric

Sewing is a relaxing hobby. Even so, you need a myriad of sewing tools whether you are a professional or hobbyist.

To use tracing paper in your sewing project, you will require the following tool:

  • Tracing paper
  • Pen or pencil. A dark pencil is most preferred.
  • Masking tape or basting needle and thread to hold the tracing paper in place.
  • Your embroidery design.

Method 1. Step-by-Step Guide On How To Use Tracing Paper On Fabric

When transferring an embroidery design to a piece of fabric using tracing paper, it is much easier if you followed a step-by-step guide.

Step 1. Create Your Preferred Embroidery Design

You can create your preferred embroidery design in many ways. These methods include designing it yourself or have someone do it for you, print it out, or choosing an image on a magazine.

You can create an embroidery design based on many things. If you are sewing a gift for a loved one, you can use their name or initials as your embroidery design. Or, you could be following instructions as given by your client.

Step 2. Transfer Your Design To The Tracing Paper

transfer your design to the tracing paper

Place your sheet of tracing paper over your chosen or created embroidery design. You can use masking tape to hold it in place over the design. Make sure that you have your tracing paper over your whole design.

Using a pencil, trace your embroidery design onto the tracing paper. Make sure to follow the outline of your design as clearly as possible. This makes it possible to transfer the original design onto the fabric.

Step 3. Transfer Your Tracing Paper Onto The Fabric

Once you are done tracing the design onto the tracing paper, you now have to transfer the tracing paper onto your fabric.

Tracing paper is waxy and light and you should take care to protect it from tearing. Peel the masking tape from the surface of the embroidery design. Hold the tracing paper carefully to make sure it doesn’t tear as you move it from one surface to another.

Place it on the fabric that you want to transfer the design onto. Using a basting stitch, hold the tracing paper firmly onto the fabric. Make long basting stitches to make sure it is easy to remove once tracing is over.

You are now ready to transfer your embroidery design onto your fabric.

Step 4. Transfer Your Embroidery Design Onto The Fabric

transfer your embroidery design onto the fabric

With your tracing paper held firmly in place by the basting stitch, start stitching your design onto the fabric.

A simple and firm backstitch is the most effective to use at this point. Follow the outline of the design on the tracing paper carefully. This helps you to transfer the correct design onto your fabric.

Confirm that you have transferred the whole embroidery design onto the fabric firmly. If you have missed any points, stitch them in before removing the tracing paper. This makes for a thorough and fine finish of your embroidery design.

Step 5. Remove The Tracing Paper

Once you have finished transferring your embroidery design you need to remove the tracing paper from the fabric. First, remove the basting stitch you had made to hold it in place. You can then tear off the tracing paper gently. Ensuring that you keep your design in place.

Tear off the tracing paper all around your embroidery design. When all that is left of it is around or on the design. You can use a needle to pull it out of the area of your embroidery design.

Step 6. Add Color To Your Embroidery Design

add color to your embroidery design

When you have finished transferring your embroidery design onto a piece of fabric with tracing paper, it is now time to give it more life and color. Use your preferred colors and types of embroidery threads to spruce up your embroidery design.

This makes it visible and helps the end product stand out among other sewn products. Many sewists seek to learn embroidery to ensure that their products are beautiful and unique.

Method 2. Using Dressmaking Carbon Paper To Trace On Fabric

using dressmaking carbon paper to trace on fabric

Dressmaking carbon paper is also known as embroidery tracing paper. It is similar to office carbon paper and applies the same concept to transfer embroidery designs to fabric.

You can buy it with your sewing supplies. Each packet comes with at least five colors of carbon paper.

Dark-colored carbon paper is best used with dark-colored fabrics while light-colored carbon paper is best for light-colored fabrics. This is because carbon paper can leave stains on the fabric.

To transfer embroidery design using carbon paper:

Step 1. You will need to first transfer the embroidery design to tracing paper.

Step 2. Press the carbon paper with the clear side on the fabric.

Step 3. Place the tracing paper with the embroidery design on the carbon paper and trace it firmly with a pencil or ballpen.

Step 4. When you are through tracing, lift the tracing paper and the carbon paper and you will find your design on the fabric.

Can I Use Tracing Paper Many Times On Fabric?

can i use tracing paper many times on fabric

When using tracing paper to transfer embroidery designs to fabric, it is difficult to reuse it. This is because, once you have transferred the design onto fabric, you will need to tear it off the fabric. Thus, making it unusable.

Also, you can’t rub off the already traced design on the tracing paper for another design. Therefore, it may not be possible to use a single sheet of tracing paper more than once to transfer embroidery designs on fabric.

Any time you want to use tracing paper, you must use a new sheet to trace new designs.

On the other hand, you can use dressmaking carbon paper multiple times to transfer embroidery designs onto fabric. You can use dressmaking carbon paper as many times as possible before the ink on its surface is fully used.

When Can You Use The Tracing Wheel?

The tracing wheel is another handy tool for sewists. Just like tracing paper, it is used to trace on fabric when sewing.

The tracing wheel is best used to transfer patterns onto fabric. If you don’t need to make adjustments to your patterns, you can use the tracing wheel to transfer the pattern onto the fabric.

You can also use the tracing wheel to transfer patterns to paper. You can use it to design new patterns with different shapes and sizes. You can use it to refresh a dated fabric and make it more appealing.

Another reason the tracing wheel is used is to transfer pattern markings. Darts, notches, and dots are some of the pattern markings that are best transferred with the tracing wheel.


Tracing paper is highly effective in transferring embroidery designs to fabric. It is easy to use with an easy-to-follow process to complete the transfer. When using tracing paper, all you need is a pencil or ballpen to trace to the paper.

Tracing paper cannot be reused to transfer designs on fabric. A single-use is all it’s good for. Dressmaking carbon paper is a tracing paper that can be used more than once to trace designs onto fabric.

Use tracing paper if you need quick transfer of embroidery designs on fabric.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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