I came across a file of vintage iron-on embroidery transfers at a charity shop towards the end of last year. They were clearly someone's collection: gathered over the years, cut up and piled haphazardly, one on top of the other into plastic sleeves. It saddens me to think of the stitching life discarded, but I can't deny the thrill of coming across a stash like this.
We were experiencing power load shedding every other evening at the time, and I spent these hours sifting through and sorting the transfers by candlelight. I had to toss a lot of them - torn, crumpled, faded - but those that were left quickly worked their way into little piles of commonality and I thought I'd share my good fortune.
They're literally just outlines, though, no instructions or photos of finished embroidery. So you'll have to get creative. But a decent design is a good place to start and I thought these small marine motifs apt with all the nautical themes doing the rounds at the moment.
Suggested stitches: Outline the anchor in back stitch and the rope in stem stitch. Work the border in chain stitch.
Suggested stitches: Outline the hull of the boat in stem stitch and fill the mast in with satin stitch. Embroider the sails and the sea in back stitch, using more strands of thread for the sails than the sea to give a thicker line. You could place a French knot under each wave curl for added detail.
Suggested stitches: Embroider the bubbles in padded satin or outline them in back stitch with two straight stitches in the centre of each. Outline the fish in stem stitch and use a French or colonial knot for the eye. Use the left-hand design for appliqué: embroider or attach a bead for the eye, cut out the fish and notch the fabric where shown, then fold the edges under and hand stitch to another piece of fabric.
Suggested stitches: Fill the sail with blanket filling stitch and outline it in stem stitch. Embroider the hull and mast in thick back stitch and the sea swells in stem stitch using only a few strands of thread. Fly or arrowhead stitch would work well for the birds and satin stitch for the flag.
Download a PDF of the motifs at actual size.