I use embroidery on lots of my work and have used several methods to get the design onto my fabric.
I find old fashioned tracing works pretty well but can be time consuming and if you are working on patterned or darker fabrics you will need something other than your trusty HB pencil.
Carbon paper is an other option and is a classic technique that pops up in older embroidery books and the like. Again, I find this quite fiddly and also to cover all bases you need carbon paper in all of the colours of the rainbow to ensure you have something that contrasts enough with your fabric. In addition, although you can reuse the sheets, I find it a little pricey. However if you choose carbon paper for tracing out embroidery patterns and also sewing patterns it might be worth it, but I have never found my peace with it.
So here’s my tip, it’s not perfect for every situation, but it’s pretty good- use your laptop/ipad as a light box.
Getting a proper light box can be pricey and they can be pretty chunky bits of kit.
There are lots of online guides on how to make your own on the cheap and they can be useful to have around for stencil cutting and paper craft. But to most a light box is certainly a luxury and this can be a stopgap and if you were working in miniature, you could even use your iphone (or other smartphone brand, I don’t know, whatever).
If you turn the lights down and the brightness up on your device it can work well on light and medium weight fabrics.
I like to use mine especially for text work as it means you can get all kinds of fonts and assures an even and centred layout.
Here’s a look with my ipad. As mentioned I have used my laptop before but you do have to be more careful to not damage the screen.
This example was also my first encounter with a trick marker. This is magic felt tip that fades after a day or two meaning you can mark up patterns enthusiastically and not worry about the marks. I was genuinely excited about this bit of kit, but I did have a few problems.
I wanted a felt pen as it would be less pressure on my screen than a pencil or chalk.
Using a fairly loose weave cotton meant the pen faded within about 10 minutes and was so faint it was barely worth it, this could have been due to the pen being blue and the fabric being blue, on another colour there might have been more visible final traces of blue. This meant I then had to return to my trusty chalk in the end anyway.
This was all for a cushion cover for a house warming present for the brilliant Ali & Louisa, (even though they moved in at the end of last year it has taken us this long to arrange the house warming)