Make Your Own Light Box: how to trace onto fabric and paper

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Light boxes can come in really handy sometimes and doing embroidery work I quickly discovered that I absolutely needed one - taping my drawings and holding up my fabric to a window was not working so well. But I just didn't want to have to purchase one for 50 dollars when I knew it would be very simple and cost nearly nothing to make one myself. And so I did, luckily it actually did cost me nothing at all because I found all I needed around my house.

What you need:
  • A light bulb/fixture (the kind you hang from the ceiling on a cord is what I use because I can just slip it under the glass)
  • Blocks to place your glass on (same height coffee cups work well too)
  • Tape or clamps depending on what you are tracing your design on

First all you do is set up your piece of glass on your blocks (or whatever else you have to use to keep you glass up and stable). Place your light underneath. ***PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT PLACE YOUR LIGHT-BULB ON FABRIC AS I HAVE DONE IN THIS PHOTO! I only used fabric in this photo to give it a contrasting back ground, you should place your light-bulb on something that will not burn. It can take awhile to trace something so I often get a ceramic plate and stick that under my glass and put my light-bulb on top, so there is no chance of burning the surface I am working on.

Second place the image you wish to trace on top of the glass and tape down to make sure it doesn't move around while you trace it.

Third, clamp down your fabric or piece of paper, you can do this with any type of clamp you wish or any strength. You can use tape, too, if you are tracing onto paper. Just make sure the tape you are using is either outside the area you wish to trace or that it won't tear your paper when you remove it. Also make sure that your paper or fabric is aligned with the image you are tracing and you will be tracing it onto the right place. This is where a ruler can come in handy. I often find out where I want my image on my fabric and then place a few markers with pencil before I set it on top of the glass, so that it is easy to get it on to the glass where I want the traced image to show up on m final piece.

Forth, turn on your light and start tracing your image! It is difficult to see where you are tracing when the light is on, so I often turn off my light to make sure that I am either pressing hard enough with my pencil or not pressing too hard, and that I am following the image correctly and that my fabric hasn't moved. I do this every couple minutes just to keep track and double check.

  Waiting to become a pillow for my shop plumed.


  1. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing. =)

  2. Great idea, I won't even have to purchase a sheet of glass, can use one that is on my end table. Thanks Patti

  3. Very good idea.I'm wondering for a while to copy my picture into my fabric.You made it clear for me.Thank you.

  4. That's what I did to trace things when I was growing up! Good refresher since I had forgotten about it.

  5. The fabric gives a special twist on the project.


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