A Complete Guide To Converting Images To Embroidery File For Free

Are you looking to convert an image to an embroidery file but aren’t sure how? Maybe you are looking for a free way to convert your images but don’t know where to start?

Or perhaps you are curious and want to know more? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

We know how tricky it can be to navigate the world of embroidery files.

The mixture of file formats, images, and confusing acronyms means it is super easy to find yourself confused and unsure what to do.

A Complete Guide To Converting Images To Embroidery File For Free

You want to get started with your embroidery, but you just don’t know where to begin.

Well, no more! Today we are here with all the answers that you need. Keep reading to find out how to convert your images to embroidery files for free! 

Embroidery Files – What Are They?

Before we dive in today, let’s have a quick recap for those that need it. An embroidery file is a file your embroidery machine reads to create the design on the file.

So what does that mean? The machine will read the file like a computer reads a code, and then produces the embroidery design on your fabric. 

So what does the file contain? Well, it will have all the information that your embroidery machine needs to create the image on the file, including the following: 

  • What color thread to use and where to use it 
  • Number of stitches 
  • Order of the stitches 
  • The type of stitch 
  • The angle of the stitch 
  • How dense the stitches should be 
  • The start and endpoints of this stitch

This information will allow the machine to create the image or design that you want to be embroidered onto your fabric.

Most of this information will need to be inputted into the software yourself so that your embroidery file has all the information your machine will need to complete the design. 

Now, don’t panic. This information will be easily available to you, so you don’t need to sit there counting stitches!

Plus, we have all the information that you need coming up, so relax, you are in safe hands. 

PES And DST Files – What Are They? 

A Complete Guide To Converting Images To Embroidery File For Free

Now that we have covered what an embroidery file is, let’s move on and look at PES and DSTs, two file types commonly used with embroidery machines.

You must know the difference, as embroidery machines are only compatible with certain types of files.

You can find this information from the manufacturer of your embroidery machine, or by checking the user manual. 

If you use a file type that your machine is not compatible with, then the machine will not read or recognize the file, and your design will not be embroidered, not what you want when you are in a rush! 

So let’s look at these file types in closer detail now. 


PES is a file type created by Brother and can only be read by the following embroidery machine brands: 

  • Brother 
  • Bernina 
  • Babylock 

If you have one of these machines, then great, if not, you will need a different file type. PES files contain all the stitch information that your machine needs to create the design.

It also has different colors for embroidery designs, meaning you don’t need to enter the information yourself.

It’s the ideal choice for those that just want to enter the design and let the machine do the hard work. 

RELATED: How Many Skeins of Yarn Do You Need to Crochet a Blanket?


DST, or Data Stitch Tajima, is a file type designed by Tajima. These files are slightly different from PES and can be read on almost every embroidery machine these days.

It’s still best to check in your user manual, but chances are your machine will be able to read this file! 

These files contain all the stitch commands that will tell your embroidery machine how to stitch the design.

Unlike PES, you do need to input some information yourself, mainly the colors of the stitches.

Now, this doesn’t take too long but imagine if your embroidery design uses lots of different colors.

Suddenly, you are looking at spending a long time entering all the color information before your machine even gets started, and who wants that? 

But thankfully, there is a way out. We can convert our DST files to PES files, meaning you can just pop it in and go.

This only works with machines that can read both files, so if you own a Brother, Bernina, or Babylock, you are in luck! You can convert any DST files to PES with ease. 

So let’s now move on and take a look at how you can do this conversion! 

Do I Have To Pay To Convert An Image To An Embroidery File? 

If you are new to the world of embroidery, then converting images to embroidery files can be a little tricky.

If you find yourself struggling, you can have this done professionally, but it will cost you.

It’s worth contacting someone for a quote before proceeding, if you aren’t the most tech-savvy, then it is an option worth considering. 

We convert images to embroidery files with the help of a digitizing program.

The program digitizes your image which the embroidery machine can read easily. So do you need to pay for this? 

Unfortunately, a lot of these programs do cost money. But, there are a few that you can use for free!

That is music to your ears, we bet! Now, some of these programs are completely free and you can use all of their features without needing to part with your cash.

Others, have a free trial period, or offer some features for free, while advanced features need to be paid for. 

Let’s take a quick look at these sites to show you which ones you can use for free! 

So there you have it, Ink/Stitch is your best bet if you want something that you can always use without needing to pay.

Not only can you convert your images to embroidery files, but there are also plenty of other features you can make use of without needing to pay!

The other sites listed offer free trial periods that you can make use of, but you will need to pay when the period ends or use another site. 

Can Any Image File Be Converted To An Embroidery File? 

A Complete Guide To Converting Images To Embroidery File For Free

Now that we have established where you can convert your files without needing to spend any money, you are bound to be wondering about the types of image files you can use.

Technically, all image files can be converted to embroidery files, but some of them are harder to do than others and come with extra steps that you need to follow. 

For those that aren’t aware, image files come in two forms, vector-based and pixel-based images.

Vector-based images tend to have clean lines, but a flat appearance. Often, they also have fewer colors than pixel-based images. 

Pixel-based images have more colors as we mentioned above. They also have far more information and tend to be three-dimensional and more realistic.

While this makes them seem like the winning choice, this extra information makes it harder to convert pixel-based images into embroidery files. 

Often, we find ourselves needing to convert a pixel-based image into a vector-based image before then heading over to your free site and converting the image into an embroidery file.

To help you through this process, let’s have a look at some examples of image files. 

RELATED: How To Get Yellow Stains Out Of White Shirts


JPEG is a file you have probably heard of!

These pixel-based images are the most common image files, you might recognize them from images you have downloaded from the internet, or pictures you have uploaded to your computer from your camera or phone. 

So why is this the most common file? Well, your computer or laptop is powerful enough to support the millions of colors in the image, along with all the details that it might have picked up.

These image files can also be compressed easily without sacrificing the quality of the image. 

As these files are so popular, it is no surprise that they are the most popular image files converted to embroidery files.

However, because of the number of colors and the backgrounds they tend to contain, they are tricky to convert to an embroidery file.

Often, we need to remove the background in the image before we digitize it. 

That sounds complex, but it isn’t! You will need an additional program to do this unless you can save the image as a different file before you convert it.

That way, you can keep the original image. 


PNG files are also pixel-based, but it’s a format often used for logos and other types of digital artwork.

PNG files usually have a transparent background that makes them far easiest to convert as you don’t need to worry about the additional steps of removing the background from the image.

These files can support lots of colors, but don’t have the three-dimensional effect of other photographic images, as JPEGs do. 

You can also save your JPEG images as a PNG image, removing the background before you begin converting it to an embroidery file! 


A Complete Guide To Converting Images To Embroidery File For Free

Popular with the youths, next we have GIFs. This pixel-based format doesn’t have as many colors as PNGs or JPEGs.

It can only support 256 colors! If you are looking to reduce the number of colors in your image, save it as a GIF. 

GIFs can also support background transparency, meaning you can also save the JPEG as a GIF to remove the background or reduce the number of colors in the image. 

Vector Image 

Finally, we have a vector image, commonly an SVG file. These are the easiest images to convert to embroidery files thanks to their flat colors and clean lines.

You can digitize them super easily too, making it a quick method when converting images to embroidery files. 

Now, you can also turn a JPEG into a vector image if you wish.

To do this, you will need some additional software, but you can use Ink/Stitch for this as the program is vector-based. 

What Do I Need To Convert An Image To An Embroidery File?

So we have established that you can convert images to embroidery files and the types of images you can use, what else do you need? Well, let’s find out! 

An Image 

The first thing you will need is an image. The image will need to be in one of the formats listed above.

Remember, you might need to convert the image into an easier format to use, and you will need to follow additional steps to do this.

If you ever get stuck, there are plenty of tutorials online that you follow along with to do this. 

Ideally, you want to use an image that you took yourself or have digitally created. That way, you don’t need to worry about any copyright issues or laws being broken.

If you are using an image that you don’t own, you will need to get permission to use the image from its creator or owner.

We suggest getting the permission in writing so that you are covered should anyone query it. 

Digitizing Software

A Complete Guide To Converting Images To Embroidery File For Free

Once you have your image, you will also need your embroidery digitizing software that will convert your image into a DST or PES file.

Now, as we said earlier, lots of software will allow you to convert the image for free, whether that is through the use of a free feature or a free trial period. 

RELATED: How Much Is A Yard Of Fabric? Yard Of Fabric Information – Fabrics By The Yard

Digitizing An Image For Embroidery – Step-By-Step Guide 

Now, let’s get into what you came here for and show you how you convert your image into an embroidery file, without needing to spend any money!

There are a few steps to this but don’t worry, we will walk you through the process! 

To start, let’s look at how we can digitize our image! Your image needs to be digitized and ready for converting before you can begin, especially if you are working with a JPEG.

So let’s look at how we do that now. 

Digitizing An Image 

To digitize an image, you first need to select the image that you want to use. Once you have done that, you will need to make sure it is appropriate.

If you are using a JPEG, you will need to remove the background from the image. 

You can do this with software like Photoshop. If you don’t have Photoshop and don’t want to pay for it, then use remove.bg.

This will remove the background for free for you! Once you have done this, click download and the image will be saved as a PNG file without the background. 

Convert It To A Vector Image 

Now that we have our background-less image, we might need to convert it again! While a lot of digitizing software allows you to use pixel-based images, not all do.

The completely free software Ink/Stitch that we mentioned is one of these. The vector-based program needs you to convert your pixel-based image to a vector-based SVG file before it can convert it. 

So how do we do this? Well, we can use the free program Vectorizer which allows you to upload your PNG file and then convert it to a vector-based SVG file for you. 

Once the file has been converted, you can upload it to Ink/Stitch and start the converting process.

If your image is already vector-based, then you won’t need to worry about this and can skip this step!

It’s worth noting, though, that when you convert a pixel-based image to a vector image, you can lose some of the color and texture in the image.

While this might seem disappointing, it does mean that your embroidery machine can read this easily. The fewer pixels and colors that are in your image, the easier it is to be read. 

Upload The Image 

Now that we have our image, it is time to upload it! Now, the following steps are generic ones that can be applied to most programs that you are using.

But there might be some differences. We recommend that you take some time to familiarize yourself with the software so you don’t hit too many roadblocks as you upload your image. 

When uploading your image, we think it’s worth downloading two files of the image or having a copy of the image you are digitizing.

This ensures that should anything go wrong, you don’t need to worry about losing your original image. 

Upload your PNG or SVG file to your digitizing program and crop the image. This will remove any area of the image that you don’t want to be embroidered. 

Set The Size 

A Complete Guide To Converting Images To Embroidery File For Free

Now, you will want to enter the length and width dimensions for the design.

You will want to measure the fabric you are using and adjust them to suit the size of the embroidery that you want.

Do you want the embroidery to fill the fabric or just be a small design in the center? Consider this when entering your dimensions, and double-check the sizes before you confirm it. 

Once the size is set, lock the image. This ensures that the image stays the same size. 

Set The Colors And Reduce If Needed 

In some cases, you will need to reduce the number of colors in your image. Only certain programs require you to do this, but it’s better to know how to do it, just in case.

Once the colors have been reduced, you will want to set the thread colors to match the image. 

Select The Stitches 

Next, you will want to choose the stitches. Those experienced embroidery machine users will know the purposes of each stitch, but if you are new to this world, check out our quick guide below. 

  • Fill stitch – these fill in space, add texture, and are typically used for larger designs 
  • Satin stitch – used for words and text, borders, and making parts of the design appear shiny 
  • Straight stitch – used for details, outlining, and shading 

Select the stitches that you want for your design and where you want these stitches to be. 

RELATED: Get You Chiffon On – The Complete Guide On All You Need To Know About Chiffon Fabric

Set Stitch Direction 

Stitch direction is the path you want your machine to follow. Now, this is a crucial part of digitizing your file.

Any information that you don’t put into the program here will not be followed by your machine. This can make your final design look messy, and who wants that? 

Take your time here to ensure that it is done correctly. If you are struggling, you can check out some video tutorials online, or some programs auto-digitize the image for you.

If you do go down this avenue, you will likely need to pay for the software. 

Once you have done, download your file. You can then save it as either a DST or PES and it is ready to be used. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, a complete guide on how to convert your image to an embroidery file without needing to pay!

As we have mentioned, Ink/Stitch allows you to use it for free always, whereas other software is only available on a free trial period, so be sure to check this before you use the software to avoid paying for it. 

Once the file is converted, don’t forget to save it under the right name so that you can use it with ease.

Sure, it can seem a little confusing at the start, but once you have converted and digitized a few images, you will be flying! 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Before you leave us today, be sure to check out our FAQ section below to ensure that all of your questions have been answered! 

How Can I Convert A JPEG To PES? 

When converting a JPEG to a PES file, you will need to start by removing the background from the image.

You can then save it as a PNG file. Once saved, upload the PNG to the program you are using and digitize it. 

Once the digitizing is complete, you can save the file. Here, you will want to keep it as a PES.

Once this is converted to a PES file, you can download it to your computer and it is ready to use! How easy was that?

How Do I Convert A JPEG To DST?

If you have a JPEG image you can convert it to a DST file, but you will need to remove the background before you can use your free program.

Check out the article above to find our recommendations for software that will allow you to do this! 

Once the background is removed, you can download your image as a PNG.

If you are working with Ink/Stitch, you will need to change this to an SVG file as it only works with vector image files. 

Next, take your PNG or SVG image and upload it to the digitizing program. Follow the steps on the program to convert the image to an embroidery file.

Once this is complete, simply save the file as a DST. You can do this by selecting the DST format in the drop-down menu. 

To finish, download the file to your computer and you are ready to go! 

How Do I Convert A PNG To PES?

It’s super quick to convert a PNG image to a PES file as you don’t need to worry about removing the background first.

Simply, upload the PNG image to your digitizing program and save it as a PES file.

Once the file is converted, you can download it to your computer and get to work with your embroidery machine! 

Amanda Brown
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x