Recently our classic car club, Hell's Belles, had it's annual Pinewood Derby & Silent Art Auction. I'm not quite the wood whittler, so I opted to make a piece to donate for the auction. Rather than a painting or photograph, I wanted to embroider an "illustration". Keep in mind that the final size of this piece was only 4" x 4". Tedious, but a fun challenge.
I started with a layout in Illustrator combining line art, type and a bitmapped photograph. Next I printed the image in black onto iron-on transfer paper (this time NOT reversed, as you usually do for iron-ons). I ironed the image onto the backside of the cotton fabric to be embroidered.
With the right side facing up, the image is ghosted on the fabric surface which makes a perfect guideline for the embroidery. Secondly, the iron-on transfer paper provides a natural stabilizer once applied to the fabric, making it sturdier to work with.