After naturally dyeing my fabric for my Stitching Every Day project, I washed the fabric (lukewarm water with 1/2 tsp pH neutral dish soap (Ecover, Myers, Dawn) and rinsed it until the water ran clear. I then dried the fabric and ironed it.
Meanwhile, I printed out some 8.5 x 11" graph paper (I have some I downloaded from the internet that is resident on my computer - I love graph paper... you can find some at this link. I printed about 4 pieces and played with several designs for fitting 31 (for January has 31 days) boxes into the space. An eraser was essential.
As it turned out, I decided that I wanted the embroidery area to fit inside the hems, so I'm not embroidering through the 3 layers of fabric. The measurement of the distance between the hem stitch lines was about 9.5"... not my targeted 11", so I cut the pattern template down to fit.
To transfer the template pattern, I use some graphite artists tracing paper I happened to have in the studio (using strong pressure on a unsharpened (rounded tip) pencil). The down side of this was that some graphite got on the fabric, but that washed off easily - after I had re-marked the fabric with the fine end of a water-proof Identipen. Do not use a "sharpie" brand pen - it runs (!). There are other ways to transfer a pattern from paper to fabric (try YouTube for these other options).