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HomeFashionHow To Turn A Picture Into A Free Embroidery File

How To Turn A Picture Into A Free Embroidery File

Best Way To Convert An Image Into Embroidery File Format For Free

Embroidering your pictures is a great way to personalize your embroidery craft and make gifts for loved ones that are one of a kind. But to do this, you need to turn the image into an embroidery file. If you can do this for free, that’s even better. 

There are a lot of options to get an embroidery digitizing service to convert your image into an embroidery file but that is not free, just a small amount of charges would apply like $1.5 to $15. In this article, I’ll show you how to do that with the free options.

It’s not hard to turn an image into an embroidery file for free. The most important thing is to make sure you’re using free software. You’ll need to make sure the image file is in the proper format, digitize the image, and then convert it to the correct type of embroidery file.

what is an embroidery file, exactly?

what kinds of image files can be changed into embroidery files?

Which free programs can help you do this?

You probably have many questions, but don’t worry about them. Just keep reading to find out everything you need to know about converting images to embroidery files.

What is a file for embroidery?

First, we need to know what an embroidery file is and how it works. This is especially important if you are starting with it. But you also need to know the most common embroidery files to convert the image to a suitable file.

An embroidery file is a type of file format that your embroidery machine can read to make the design in the file. The file has essential information your embroidery machine needs to know to make the picture right.

Embroidery files need essential information about stitches and what color thread to use.

  • Stitching type
  • Stitch order
  • Angle of stitch
  • Stitch density
  • Putting in and taking out stitches

To ensure that the embroidery file has the correct information for your machine to read, you must put most of this information into the software program yourself.

Files DST and PES

Now that we know what an embroidery file is, let’s look at two common file types. This is important because different brands of embroidery machines can only work with different types of files. If you use the wrong file type, your computer won’t know what it is or be able to read it.

Data Stitch Tajima is what DST stands for because Tajima made it. But most embroidery machines can read this type of file. The stitch commands in DST files tell the embroidery machine how to stitch the design.

PES is a file format that Brother made, but Brother, Babylock, and Bernina embroidery machines  can all read it. PES files have the same stitch commands as DST files, but they also have information about different colors for embroidery designs, which DST files don’t have.

Before you can turn an image into an embroidery file, you need to know what kind of files your embroidery machine can read. You don’t want to change it to the wrong file and find out later that your machine can’t read it.

With machines that can read both PES and DST files, it is often much easier and better to convert to a PES file, especially if your image has a lot of different colors. So, you can ensure that your finished embroidery will have the right colors.

Can you turn a picture into a file for embroidery for free?

Because it can be hard to figure out how to turn an image into an embroidery file, especially for beginners, some people would rather pay someone else to do it for them. But if you try to do it yourself, you’ll want to find the cheapest way to do it.

A digitizing program is used to turn images into files that can be used for embroidery. These programs make it possible to turn pictures into digital files that a machine can read better. Some of these programs do require payment. But luckily, there are programs that you can use without paying anything.

In some situations, the program and its features are always free. Sometimes you can get a free trial, but you have to pay to keep using it. Or, some features may be free, but more advanced may cost money.

Here are some of the most popular and best free embroidery digitizing programs:

  • Ink/Stitch is free to use.
  • Free trial of SewArt
  • Embird is free to try.
  • Hatch—try it for free.

As you can see, Ink/Stitch is probably the best overall choice for turning any image into an embroidery file. It doesn’t have a free trial and is always free. It also has many features that can be used for more than just converting images.

Can Embroidery files be made from any image file?

There are many different kinds of image files. Technically, all of them can be changed into embroidery files, but some are harder to change than others and may not work without more work.

Images can be made from pixels or lines and curves. Pixel-based photos have much more information, look more accurate, and have more depth. There are also more colors in them. Vector images have clean lines but can look flat and usually don’t have as many colors as pixel images.

Pixel-based images are harder to turn into embroidery files because they have many colors. Vector images are easier to make. Ink/Stitch is one program that requires you to change a pixel-based image into a vector-based image before you can turn it into an embroidery file.

Here are a few examples of standard image files.


This is a pixel-based image file and is one of the most common image files, especially for pictures you took on your phone or camera and uploaded to your computer or photos you downloaded from the internet.

This is because computer monitors can show millions of different colors. This means that in a JPG/JPEG file, the whole image, with all of its colors and details, can be seen on the screen. This kind of image file can also be compressed without affecting the quality of the image.

Most of the time, JPG/JPEG image files are the most common ones that are turned into embroidery. But they are harder to turn into embroidery because they have a lot of colors and often have a background. If the picture has a lot of different colors, the embroidery machine would have to change the thread more. Also, the background would have to be taken out of the picture before it could be digitized.

Taking the background out of an image is not a hard thing to do. Still, it usually needs extra programs unless you want to save it as a different image file before converting it.


PNG files are also made up of pixels, but they are used for digital artwork and things like logos. It can handle a lot of different colors, but it doesn’t look three-dimensional like a photograph.

Most PNG files also have a background that can be seen through. They are usually easier to turn into image files because you don’t have to spend extra time taking out the background. Before turning a JPG image into an embroidery file, you can remove the background by saving it as a PNG image.


GIF is another popular format for pixel-based images but doesn’t support as many colors as JPG and PNG. GIFs can only handle 256 colors, so if you save an image as a GIF, you can reduce the number of colors in it. GIFs also let you see through the background, so you can save a JPG as a GIF to change the colors and get rid of the background.

Vector Graphic

The most effortless image to turn into an embroidery file is a vector image, usually an SVG file. This is because vector images have clean lines and flat colors. Because of this, it is much easier to digitize a vector image. But you can use some free software to turn a JPG image into a vector one. To do this, you will need to use the free vector-based program Ink/Stitch.

What Do You Need to Turn an Image into an Embroidery File?

The good news is that you don’t need many tools to change an image into an embroidery file. You need two things most of all.

First, you need an image in one of the above formats. Depending on the image format, you may need to take extra steps to make it easier to use. The picture should be taken yourself, so you don’t have to worry about legal issues.

If you use an image that isn’t your own, you need to get written permission to use it. This is especially important if the image is copyrighted and you want to sell your design. Having written authorization can help you avoid legal trouble if you use an idea that wasn’t yours, especially if you’re going to make money from it.

Second, you need free embroidery digitizing software to turn a picture into a PES or DST embroidery file. You don’t have to worry about that, though, because most programs, whether free or not, can convert to many different types of embroidery files.

How to Turn a Picture into a Digitize for Embroidery

Most of the time, JPG and PNG files are used for digitizing and turning images into embroidery. Let’s look at how to digitize an image before discussing how to change between files. Before you start, you should learn how to use the software you will use.

If you use one of the free or trial versions of the software listed above, you will have to do most of the image editing yourself. Some software programs have auto-adjust features, but you usually have to buy them.

The first thing you need to know is that you may need to take steps before you can even upload your image to be digitized. This depends on the program you use in the end.

Take away the backdrop.

Before uploading a JPG image to any program, you have to remove the background from the image. If you have Photoshop, you can do this. If not, you can use the free service remove bg to remove the background. Once you click “download,” the image will automatically be saved as a PNG file because it no longer has a background.

Change the image to a vector

Most software for digitizing lets you upload pixel-based images straight to the program, so this step might not be necessary depending on the software you’re using. But if you use the free Ink/Stitch, a vector-based program, you will need to change your pixel-based PNG file to a vector-based SVG file.

Again, a free online tool called Vectorizer can do this. You need to upload your PNG file to Vectorizer, and it will turn it into a vector image for you. Then you can automatically download it as an SVG file and upload it to Ink/Stitch.

When you change a pixel-based image to a vector image, you may lose some color and “texture,” but your embroidery machine will be able to read it better. The more colors and pixels your image has, the harder it will be to digitize and change.

Adding Your Picture

The rest of the steps work with any program, but they aren’t precise because the tools and algorithms in each program are different. Because of this, it’s essential to learn how to use the tools before you start digitizing an image for an embroidery project.

Before you start, it’s a good idea to download two copies of the same image or make a copy of the image you’re digitizing, just in case something happens to the original image that you can’t fix. Some programs let you copy the photo while you’re still in the program, while others don’t.

Depending on your program, you should start by putting your PNG or SVG file into it. Then, you’ll need to cut out any parts of the image that you don’t want to be embroidered.

Size Up The Design

Next, you’ll put in the length and width measurements for how big you want the actual embroidered design. To do this, you’ll need first to measure the size of the fabric you’re going to color and then use those measurements to make the image the correct size. After setting the size, make sure to lock the image so that it stays the same size.

Cut Down & Decide On Your Colors

If you use specific programs, you may need to reduce the number of colors in your image. For example, Sew Art’s free trial only lets you export files with six or fewer colors. That’s one reason you should first turn your image into a vector.

After you’ve cut down on the number of colors, you’ll need to match the thread colors to the image.

You Can Pick Your Stitches

Now it’s time to pick the stitches you want to use. More experienced embroiderers will know what stitches to use for what, but if you’re new to the craft, here’s a quick rundown:

  • Satin stitch is used for words, borders, and ensuring the design is “shiny.”
  • A straight stitch outlines, shades, and fills in details.
  • Fill stitch is used to fill in space and add texture to larger designs.
  • The tools you need to choose and set your stitches will be in your program.

Set Direction of Stitch

The stitch direction is the path you want your embroidery machine to take when making the design. This part of digitizing needs to be done with the most care because anything you don’t put into the program won’t be followed by the embroidery machine, which could make your design look messy when it’s done.

If you don’t know how to do this, many programs have videos showing you how. You can also use a program that automatically turns the image into a digital file. But these kinds of programs don’t tend to be free.

How to Turn a Picture into a Free Embroidery File

Once your image has been digitized, you can turn it into an embroidery file. Most of the time, you have to give it the correct file name and save it to your computer. But in some rare cases, you need to change an image file into a different image file before you can change it into an embroidery file.


JPG/JPEG images can be changed to DST, but you can’t do that with a free program unless you first remove the image’s background. Use one of the above tools to remove the background, and then save your image as a PNG file. If you use Ink/Stitch, you need to change that image to an SVG file since they only accept vector image files.

Then, you can upload the PNG or SVG image to the digitizing program and follow the steps for digitizing. Then, you must choose “DST embroidery file format” from the drop-down menu and save the image in that format.


PNG images are easier to convert because the background doesn’t need to be removed first. Getting from PNG to PES is the same as getting from PNG to DST. All you have to do is upload the PNG to the program, digitize it, make sure to save it as a PES file, and then download the file to your computer.


This is the same as changing a JPG file to a DST file. Still, you will need to remove the image’s background and save it as a PNG file first. The PNG file is then uploaded to the program and digitized. But you won’t keep it as a DST file. Instead, you’ll choose PES. Once you’ve changed it to a PES file, you must download it to your computer.


You can change a picture into an embroidery file with a few different programs. Some are free only for a short time, but Ink/Stitch is always free. The image needs to be digitized so your embroidery machine can read it. This is the essential part of the process. Then you need to save it with the correct file name. Share this with other people and leave a comment if you found it helpful. Thanks for stopping by!

Kelvin is the founder and CEO of 360Affairs, a content creation company. He's been a content marketer and SEO expert for over 5 years and writes for different platforms on blogging and website strategy.


  1. If you are trying to convert pictures into an embroidery file you have to follow each step. I think you have made a beautiful blog with each step to follow.


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