How to Convert a JPEG into a Digital Embroidery Pattern

Graphics software and speciality paper provide unique tools for crafters to create customised gifts and projects that incorporate a specific image. Photoshop Elements can import digital photos as JPEG files so that users can design an embroidery pattern and transfer the road map of the photo image to the desired fabric, using it for projects such as personalised pillows. The filters and effect options in Photoshop Elements provide a preview of the digital embroidery pattern and enable users to specify the size of the stitching blocks. You can also print the pattern on iron-on inkjet transfer for affixing it directly on the fabric. Your embroidery stitches will eventually cover the underlying pattern.

Launch Photoshop Elements and open the desired JPEG photo file by selecting "Open" under "File" in the top menu bar.

Change the size of the image if desired by selecting "Resize" under "Image" in the top menu bar and choosing "Image Size." Specify the desired size for the image to be embroidered here, because enlarging the image in the Print menu will also enlarge the tiles in the pattern.

Before creating the embroidery pattern, you may first want to apply other filters and effects to your image, such as Sharpen and Cutout, to create a unique effect. These are located under "Filter" in the top menu bar.

Select "Texture" under "Filters" in the top menu bar and choose "Patchwork."

Preview the effect and fine-tune the options for your embroidery needs by adjusting the square size to be larger or smaller, and modifying the relief, which increases texture, using the slider bars on the right side of the dialogue window.

Click "OK" to apply the desired effect. You will see a display of a pattern of colour blocks suitable for embroidery.

If you want to directly transfer the pattern to fabric and will need to print a mirror image to a transfer sheet, select "Rotate" under "Image" in the top menu bar and choose "Flip Horizontal." When you apply the transfer sheet to fabric by ironing it on, the transferred image will be flipped back. This is especially useful when you are working with images containing words.

Experienced crafters may elect to print the pattern and use the tiles only as a visual guide for stitches and colours rather than actually transferring the image to the fabric with a transfer sheet.

Print the pattern on an inkjet iron-on transfer sheet for light fabrics, which has a thin film. (Inkjet transfer sheets for dark fabrics are stiffer.)

Generate an additional printout of the pattern on plain paper for visual reference because the transferred image will be covered with stitches as your embroidery project progresses. Note that white colours will transfer as clear on the inkjet transfer.

Cut out the desired image to reduce the edges for transfer.

Transfer the pattern to the desired fabric according to manufacturer's instructions for the iron-on transfer.


Choose an image with sharp edges and a light background to better isolate the desired subject.


Be careful when using a hot iron to avoid accidental burns.

Things You'll Need

  • Photoshop Elements software
  • Printer
  • Scissors
  • Iron-on inkjet transfer sheet for light-coloured fabrics
  • Iron
  • Fabric
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About the Author

Regina Edwards has been a freelance writer since 1990. She has penned video scripts, instructional manuals, white papers and abstracts. She has also ghostwritten diabetes journals. Edwards is a scuba instructor and Usui and Karuna Reiki teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Saint Joseph's University.