How to Draw Embroidery Patterns

Simple embroidered outlines enhance the central picture in this piece.
embroidery image by Maksim Shebeko from

Coloring books, family photos and line drawings you create yourself are the simplest sources of designs that can be turned into embroidery patterns. By drawing over their outlines and transferring them to fabric, you can stitch over the lines to create your own personal embroidered works of art. If you have an old flat bed scanner that no longer works but will still light up, it will make an excellent light box for tracing.

Things You'll Need

  • Tracing Paper
  • Transfer Paper Or Carbon Paper
  • Coloring Books, Other Line Drawing Or Pencil
  • Clear Tape
  • Pencil
  • Tracing Wheel

Draw a simple geometric pattern, flower, initial or other motif on paper in the same size you want it to be on your embroidered fabric. Use clear lines and avoid overlapping shapes or shading if you are a beginner, according to online embroidery resource Pretty Impressive Stuff. Alternately, you can trace over a printed coloring book page or other piece of art. Simplify as necessary.

Tape down the completed design to either a window or light box. Tape the edge of the tracing paper over the design so the whole design is covered. Trace the design onto tracing paper with a pencil. You can place together several different small motifs to trace and create a larger design.

Place the tracing on a piece of transfer paper or carbon paper with the carbon side against the fabric you want to embroider. Use clear tape to hold the papers in place while you do the marking.

Use the tracing wheel to follow the lines you drew on the tracing paper. If you do not have a tracing wheel a dull pencil will serve the same purpose. A ball point ink pen that has run out of ink can also be used as a stylus for transferring the carbon to the fabric.