Q & A April

Hello everyone!

Hope you are well and looking forward to a short break over Easter? This week I am pleased to let you know that the Special thread collection is back in stock and as promised in a previous Blog post, I am going to address two of the questions that were sent in by readers and I will address others week by week. So here we go:


Bonnie Freund asked “I have a terrible time transferring patterns.  Do you have suggestions for a fool proof way even I can use and get a nice clean image?”


Unfortunately, there is no fool proof method for achieving a nice clean image when transferring by hand and there is nothing worse then wobbly lines which can spoil the outcome of your embroidery. This is why I provide iron on transfers for my patterns – all you need to do is iron them on to your fabric and you have a perfect image! You can find instructions on how to use them here. You can find iron on transfers for 90% of my PDF patterns and for my last 4 books here and of course my most recent book includes iron on transfer sheets as will all my future books, so you will never have to transfer an outline by hand again.

If for some reason you have no choice but to transfer the image by hand, here are some instructions that will help.


Mary Conroy asked ” One of the most taxing things I find is understanding about fabrics.

  • what type of fabric to use
  • and what is that driven by the thread or the design
  • how to identify fabrics from the vast array that is available especially given that names and descriptions differ so much.  What is the key description to look for?”


Such a great question Mary and I know you are not alone! The only way to identify the right fabric is too experiment with different types, or purchase it from my site, I have done all the work for you! There are 4 key elements to look for in the right type of fabric:

  1. It should have a close weave. When I talk about a close weave, I mean it should be about 200 count or higher (like when you shop for bed sheets – 140ct, 180ct, 200ct, 300ct etc). The higher the count the denser the weave, so if you hold it up to the light it looks quite solid and smooth. If you purchase a 140ct bed sheet it will feel rough, this is because the threads are loosely woven – whereas a 300ct bed sheet will feel smooth as the threads are tightly woven. With Needlepainting you need a solid background so that you have plenty of placement for inserting your needle with each stitch – if the weave is too loose you will end up going into the same hole each time which won’t look good. Here are two examples of zoomed in fabric – I have used a color to show clearly:

2. It should have little or no stretch in it. You need to pull the fabric at right angles – if there is any stretch in it, then the fabric will over stretch in the hoop and when you remove it from the hoop it will be distorted. This causes puckers. So look for something that has no stretch in it.

3. It should be able to support your embroidery. You don’t want it to be too thick and stiff so that you have to use pliers to pull your needle through!! But you also don’t want it to be too soft, floppy or flimsy – I like my fabric to have a firm hand and be of medium weight so that it supports the weight of my embroidery. When it is mounted in the hoop and you flick it with your fingers it should make a sound (a bit like a drum).

4. It is best to use natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or silk. I prefer cotton or linen as it is not possible to use on an iron on transfer on silk. If using silk it is best to buy the powerwoven kind that has less slubs in it.

Types of fabric

Ok so I understand there are a plethora of fabrics out there that include these key elements and the best way to find if it works is to buy a sample and try it out. Here is a a list of fabrics that I know work well with Needlepainting:

Premium linen (I have done the work for you)

Church linen (not as high count as I would like but it works)

Southern Belle 200 count muslin

Kona premium 200 count muslin

Kona quilting cotton (this has a slight stretch so is not ideal but it works)

Lightweight cotton twill from Spoonflower

Silk dupion from The Silk route (powerwoven)

Hope that helps. Till next time wherever you are in the world, have a wonderful Easter, keep smiling and happy stitching!


9 thoughts on “Q & A April”

  1. High quality Percale bedsheets. They’re high quality cotton with a high thread count, and there’s a lot of yardage in a twin flat sheet!

      1. It’s at least as tight a weave as some of the Kona cotton I have. If I knew where my microscopw was, I’d do some comparison shots. Hmmm. Maybe I can get the phone to zoom in tight.

        I know a couple of places in England that sell hi-thread count ramie as “the best substitute for linen” for doing historic embroidery. I haven’t tried it yet, but I want to!

  2. Trish. Thanks so much very helpful. I have bought fabric from your site for just the reason you said. You have done the hard work. Mary

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