Craft

10 Free Tools to Create Your Own Embroidery Patterns

Make custom embroidery designs from photos, drawings, and more with these free online embroidery pattern makers—plus discover free resources to inspire your designs

If you’re looking to craft a truly unique embroidery project, creating your own patterns is a great place to start.

Using free embroidery pattern makers, you can turn photographs and drawings into one-of-a-kind embroidered artwork.

In this list, you’ll discover a range of online tools to design custom patterns for both hand and machine embroidery techniques. Plus, we share a few useful resources for finding artwork to inspire your designs.

Free tool embroidery pattern cross stitch pattern made on Pixel Stitch. Photograph: Alvan Nee via Unsplash.
Cross stitch pattern made on Pixel Stitch. Photograph: Alvan Nee via Unsplash.

1. Pixel-Stitch

A very easy pattern generator, using Pixel Stitch you can quickly upload an image of your choice and convert it into a cross-stitch embroidery pattern.

Before making the pattern, Pixel Stitch allows you to customize your number of stitches, the size of your fabric, and to choose how many colors you want to use—as well as showing the exact numbers for thread brands DMC, Anchor, and Sulky.

Once you’ve created your design, you can preview it on the website and make changes. You can also see the size of your embroidery pattern in centimeters to calculate how much fabric you’ll need. In the example below, we converted an illustration by Puño into a custom cross-stitch pattern:

free tool embroidery pattern Pixel-Stitch
Pattern made on Pixel-Stitch. Original illustration by Puño.
Pixel-Stitch
Pattern detains from Pixel-Stitch.

2. Stitching Joy

Stitching Joy is another quick generator you can use to upload and convert images into a PDF cross-stitch pattern. You can choose your max number of thread colors, the number of stitches, and thread type. The step-by-step pattern includes the exact thread colors you’ll need for the brand of your choice.

3. Stitchboard

A community platform for handicrafters, Stitchboard’s Free Pattern Wizard can be used to make designs for cross-stitch and beading—as well as knitting and crochet.

Stitchboard allows non-members to upload and transform .jpg or .gif images, with the standard selection of customizable options: your stitch type, color palette, number of stitches, etc. You can also sign up for a free account to access extra features, such as the option to upload more image formats (including .png, .tif, and .wbmp), as well as “image enhancements” like special effects.

Free tool embroidery pattern Miyuki beaded embroidery pattern made on Stitchboard. Illustration credit: via Pexels.
Miyuki beaded embroidery pattern made on Stitchboard. Illustration credit: via Pexels.

4. Pic2Pat

Cross-stitch pattern maker Pic2Pat does exactly what the name suggests: transforms pictures into embroidery patterns. You can customize it according to your thread brand of choice, select your number of stitches per inch, the pattern size, and your color palette.

Free tool embroidery pat pattern made on Pic2Pat. Illustration sourced via Heritage Type’s free vintage illustration library.
Pattern made on Pic2Pat. Illustration sourced via Heritage Type’s free vintage illustration library.

5. BitFontMaker2

BitFontMaker2 isn’t specifically an embroidery tool, however, it is incredibly useful when it comes to creating patterns with lettering and phrases.

The online editor enables you to create fonts in bitmaps that you can use as patterns—it’s particularly good for cross-stitch embroidery (although, it’s also a useful tool for other techniques as well). The fonts created are in the public domain, meaning that you can use them freely.

While the tool takes some practice to get used to, the site shares detailed instructions on how to create your own pixel fonts.

Font made by pentacom on BitMap2.
Font made by pentacom on BitMap2.

6. Ink/Stitch

Another platform that requires a steeper learning curve, Ink/Stitch is used by machine embroidery artists to digitize designs.

An open-source platform based on free vector drawing platform Inkscape, you can use Ink/Stitch to convert vector artwork into a digital pattern that your machine can read.

After creating or uploading your vector image or text via Inkscape, you can use the software to create and parametrize embroidery vectors for various stitch types (strokes, satin, and fill). There’s also a series of beginner tutorials that teach you how to use the platform from scratch.

Free tool embroidery pattern contour Fill Sunflower embroidery design via Ink Stitch.
Contour Fill Sunflower embroidery design via Ink Stitch.

BERNINA ARTlink 9

Is a free, easy-to-use embroidery software program that allows you to open an embroidery design, size, skew, rotate, and mirror designs, change file formats, and write the design directly to a BERNINA embroidery machine or USB Stick.

Embroidery Tool Shed
Embroidery Tool Shed

Embroidery Tool Shed

Is a great way to get started with embroidery software! Basic functions like resizing, changing colors, and many others are available for free. And, if you want to add more functions, in-app purchases make that easy.

2stitch Organizer

Lets you preview your designs on your computer, including information such as size, number of stitches and required thread length.

2stitch Organizer
2stitch Organizer

StitchBuddy HD

Have your machine embroidery designs always at hand, wherever you are! Enjoy beautiful previews on your iPhone and iPad, manage and modify designs down to stitch level, and stay in sync with your computer.

Where to find free images for your pattern designs

If you don’t have specific photographs, drawings, or artwork in mind for your patterns, get inspired by these free-to-use image libraries and archives…

Vintage illustrations

When you’re looking for pattern design ideas, vintage illustrations can be a great place to turn. Older imagery is more likely to be in the public domain, and you can often discover patterns and elements that aren’t as commonplace nowadays.

For 1,000s of downloadable images, explore Heritage Type’s themed vintage illustration bundles, divided into categories from flora to fashion. Another great resource is the Biodiversity Heritage Library—a website that offers up more than two million beautiful botanical, nature, and animal illustrations that are perfect for embroidery.

Portraits

Get inspired to create bold, embroidered portraits by exploring portrait collections free stock image sites like Pexels and Unsplash, or via Creative Commons.

Illustration via Heritage Library.
Illustration via Heritage Library.

Quick tip: How to transfer a design to fabric using a solvent

Once you’ve got your pattern ready to go, learn how to transfer a design to fabric using solvent with this free embroidery tutorial by Florula (@florula).

Discover more embroidery resources and tools

- Grab a needle and thread and learn embroidery techniques with these fifteen creative embroidery courses for beginners—from upcycling to clothing design to cross-stitch artwork.

- Discover three websites to download 1000s of free hand embroidery patterns.

- Embroidery Tutorial: How to Embroider a Flower

Article updated by @amyvsnelling.

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