Saturday, May 14, 2011

Improvising A Light Box

I needed to transfer a pattern today, one of twelve, and I wanted a more satisfactory method than my usual one.  I should have bought a light box long ago but there has  always been something else which I wanted more. So this is what I did .........
The piece of glass is the top of a bedside table in the spare bedroom, placed on two chairs and over my light-magnifier.
Then comes the pattern I wanted to trace. I had first printed it onto a heavy tracing paper, then taped it to the glass.  The pattern is the first of twelve in a quilt called Dress Me Up from Bobby Socks Quilt Company   Each is a dress from the 1950s displayed on a dressmaker's dummy.
 A piece of the off-white fabric I am using is taped over the tracing paper.  To look at it you would never guess how carefully I had ironed it.
I can see most of the pattern through the fabric but I keep the original drawing beside me so that I know what I'm looking for and don't draw the pattern by guess and by gosh.  I was using an archival pen from a local art shop.   It leaves a permanent mark but it's a fine line and will be easy to hide under the embroidery.
Then I had the bright idea (no pun intended) that by twisting the light source straight up instead of pointing down at the floor I would see the image more clearly.  Well it looks like that in the photo.  But the combination of better view of the dress combined with the clearly defined self pattern on my fabric meant that I couldn't see the pen strokes I was making.  I was heading for trouble there !  Pressing more heavily and repeating strokes.  So it was back to the more diffuse light.

And by now my knees and back are starting to protest at all this getting up and down.  Have to have a think to see if there is some other way I can prop up the glass !
So here I am, just starting off.  I've ironed on a backing to stop the material from puckering from my stitching. The dress and form is just clear enough for me to see comfortably and won't disappear.  The dress form is a bit too close to the embroidery hoop so I'll do it last of all. A family member has already seen the pattern and uttered a most definite That's Mine so this quilt's destination is already determined.

I found this quilt a few weeks ago on the Dread Pirate Rodgers Blog and today the Pirate has blogged that she has now finished embroidering the twelvth dress and is pondering on how she is going to finish the quilt. I couldn't resist it once I saw her work.  The quilting blogs are such a source of inspiration.

Much as I like quilting I am not happy at doing  little bits and pieces on the sewing machine.  I prefer to have a nice un-interrupted day in front of me.  But I always have a piece of embroidery on the table to pick up at odd times during the day or evening. These days my embroideries are meant to be made into quilts.

After a day of enforced rest yesterday it was great to make some progress today. I'll be glad to hear if anyone else has any handy hints on light-boxing. For all things embroidery you can't go past Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread . Under her Tips and Techniques she has a interesting selection on Transferring Patterns.


  1. I used the same technique as you when trying to trace a pattern and was getting a crook in my back from bending over. I need to trace another pattern and was not to keen on buying a light box and then I thought about using my ironing board (adjustable height) and my sewing table to use as supports for the glass. This way, I can sit in my chair and trace the pattern. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm hoping that it works (and maybe for you, too).

  2. Sounds good. I've been looking around and now think that the keyboard slide-out on my computer desk and the arm of a bridge chair look a similar height so if that works I'll be able to sit down to trace. I'll experiment tomorrow. It's better than sticking them on a window.