Pro Tips: Pricking a Design

pounce, prick and pounce, powder, trace, tracing, rubbing
Picture of Natasha Searls-Punter

Natasha Searls-Punter

Prick and Pounce as a method of transferring a design onto your cloth is a great way to get an accurate draft to work from. Much of the embroidery process is about the preparation of your materials and design, as if your preparations are not right the final piece will never be that great no matter how skilled your subsequent stitches.

Prick and Pounce is the traditional way of doing this and they way we favour. This does not mean that there aren’t other ways of doing your design transfer that might be equally successful, or easier for your particular project, such as using a light box or dissolvable pens. Each method has their pros and cons, you just have to choose which you think is best for what you are looking to create.

Firstly, trace your design outlines onto some tracing paper with an area of unused tracing paper around the edge. This is important as when we come to pounce the design, we do not want any stray pounce marking around the edges (see future post for more details on pouncing).


Then using a pin or needle (having a needle mounted in your tambour handle can make this process easier as it gives you similar control to drawing- see previous post on using a tambour handle as a pricker for more details) make a series of holes through the traced lines you created. There are some conflicting opinions on which side of the design you should use to prick from. We prefer to prick the design from the back (as shown) as each hole you make forces the tracing paper to create a little channel of the displaced tracing paper which is then on the right-side of your design. This makes the right-side rougher with the holes formed which catches the pounce as you pass it over the design.

Therefore when you are pricking, it is important that you keep the angle of the needle at 90 degrees to the paper (vertical) so that the channel created is straight through the paper so as not to distort the design when the pounce falls through it.

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