How to Convert Images to Embroidery Files?

If you recently got yourself a digital embroidery machine and would like to personalize your projects by adding your illustrations or own designs, JPEG or JPG images won’t work on them. Embroidery machines require specific image formats and the most common are PES and DST files, among many others.

You will have to convert your design files to acceptable embroidery file formats before you can successfully start the process. In this article, we will discuss how you can digitize images for embroidery and identify the different formats that will work best with your embroidery machine, and the process of converting them, respectively.

In this guide, you will learn different methods to convert .jpg file to PES or DST format and how to convert between PES and DST format.

What are the Most Common Image Formats?

When looking to convert an image to an embroidery file there are multiple possibilities as to the format of that image. Two main characteristics of an image file that may determine its best forms of usage are whether it is a raster or vector image, and whether it is a lossy or lossless image. A raster image is one which is made up of millions of colored pixels to form an image, while a vector image is one which is made of mathematically determined points and paths.

Lossy or lossless refers to whether an image loses quality during file compression. A lossy image permanently loses some of its data once compressed, which can lead to a lesser quality image. Inversely, a lossless image is compressed while maintaining all image quality, and can be decompressed to its original state.

most common image formats

Below is a table containing a few of the most common image formats. The information provided describes the files in abbreviated and full names, whether the image is raster or vector and lossy or lossless, as well as a brief description.

Common Image Formats

.JPG/.JPEG (Joint Photographers’ Expert Group)

  • Raster
  • Lossy
  • The most common image file format
  • Commonly used for web images
  • Has the ability to choose the amount of file compression when saving
.EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)

  • Vector
  • Lossless
  • Commonly used by graphic professionals because it is good for vector artwork and scaling high resolution images
  • Can be opened in many illustration applications
.SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

  • Vector
  • Lossless
  • Common use is website icons and logos
  • Can be animated
  • Image text is readable by search engines
.TIFF/.TIF (Tagged Image File Format)

  • Raster
  • Lossless
  • Best for high quality professional image printing
  • Has the ability to save files with transparency
.PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

  • Raster
  • Lossless
  • Common use for saving digital graphics and web image
  • Supports full color range and has the ability to save files with transparency
.GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

  • Raster
  • Lossless
  • Common use is web graphics
  • Can be animated
  • Has ability to save files with transparency

What Format are Embroidery Files?

While we’ve learned about the most common image formats, these are different from the format of an embroidery file. While there are a large variety of embroidery file formats, depending on which files are compatible with which machine. The two most common stitch data file formats are .PES and .DST. Other embroidery file formats include ART, DST, HUS, JEF, PES, and VIP.

Here’s an overview of the different embroidery file formats for different machine brands:

Husqvarna/VIkingHUS, VP3, VIP
Brother, Babylock, DecoPES / PEC
Melco / BravoEXP

What is PES File Format?

pes file format

PES (Physics Editor Sheet File) is a Brother embroidery format which is compatible with more than just the Brother embroidery machines. This file contains information of the design such as color, where to stop, jump, or stitch, as well the stitch width and length.

What Program Opens PES Files?

PES files can be opened by a number of embroidery applications including BALARD Embird Studio, BuzzXplore, Designer Gallery Studio Plus, Embroidermodder, PREMIER+ Embroidery, and S&S Computing. While not an embroidery application, Adobe Photoshop, is also a great option when using PES files.

What is DST file format?

DST (Data Stitch Tajima) is one of the oldest stitch data formats, making it one of the most common. It is a file format used by Tajima commercial embroidery machines but can be opened by many different embroidery software applications and used on virtually any embroidery machine.

What is JEF file format?

.JEF (Janome Embroidery Format) is the stitch data format used by modern Janome embroidery machines, and can also be read by Elna machines. It can be opened by BALARD Embird studio and Janome Artistic Digitizer. Additionally, there is a .JEF+ stitch data file, used by Janome, which is editable.

What File Format Does Brother Use?

.PES is the default file format for Brother embroidery machines. Brother machines can also read .DST, .PHC, .PEN.

What File Format Does Bernina Use?

Many of the modern Bernina machines can read a various amount of file types including .EXP, .ART, .DST, .PES, .PEC, .SEW, .XXX, .PCS, and .JEF.

What File Format Does Janome Use?

As previously mentioned, .JEF is the default file format for Janome embroidery machines. Modern Janome machines can also read .JAN, .EMB, .JEF+, and .JPX. There are a few retired Janome machines which read the .SEW file instead of the .JEF file. These machines include the Janome Memory Craft 5700, 8000, and 9000.

What is Embroidery Digitizing?

embroidery digitizing

Embroidery digitizing is the process of converting an image or piece of artwork into a stitch data file format such as .DST, PES, .JEF, etc. It is necessary for any file that is to be used for embroidery to be converted to a stitch data file format because these are the types of formats which will instruct the machine how and where to stitch.

It is also important, when converting an image or artwork for a specific machine, that it is digitized into a format that is compatible with that machine.

How to Digitize an Image For Embroidery?

Digital embroidery may sound simple, you just load the image you want into a memory card and insert it in your machine, push a few buttons, and it starts the process. However, common image formats like JPG, JPEG, PNG, etc, are not recognized by embroidery machines. These images need to be converted into embroidery file formats before you can start the process, which makes it a little complex.

Before you start digitizing your image, you must know which format suits your machine brand. Not all of them accept the same format. For example, Brother uses PES while Singer uses XXX. You can check the table above or scan through the manual which came with your machine upon purchase.

Now that you know about file formats, you will need software or applications to digitize your images and we will introduce two applications you can use in this section.

How To Digitize A Logo For Embroidery In Illustrator?

Adobe Illustrator is a graphic design application used to create vector graphics or vector images. When we say Vector Images, these are images composed of points, lines, and shapes based on mathematical formulas instead of pixels which is often found in JPG formats. If your image is vectorized, scaling up or down won’t affect its quality compared to pixelated images or what we call Raster Images.

To digitize your images in Illustrator, import your desired logo or image into illustrator, add a new layer on top of the current one, trace the outline using the Ellipse tool and use the Rectangle tool to complete it. If you want to add details, like colors, you can use the pen tool for it.

Before exporting the completed logo, make sure that you used the correct settings applicable to embroidery to avoid messing up your stitches. It is crucial that the new logo is created on a clean vector file. However, Adobe Illustrator does not save your file in embroidery formats. You still need a plug-in or a separate software to convert it. Illustrator is solely for vectorizing your logos which is essential for smooth stitching of your machine.

How To Digitize A Logo In Photoshop?

how to digitize a logo in photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most used programs for digitizing images. Photoshop can transform your images to look more sophisticated and professional. The steps in digitizing your designs in Photoshop are almost the same as in Illustrator. The only difference is that Photoshop is widely used for Raster Images or artworks that are hand-drawn.

The first step at digitizing your logo in Photoshop is to scan it. It is crucial that you scan it at at least 600dpi because Raster images are dependent on the amount of pixels upon scanning. This is to make sure you have enough room to scale your images.

After scanning, import your logo into Photoshop and you can start digitizing it. Clean the image off extra spots until satisfied. Just like in Illustrator, you have to make layers to add details. This is for flexibility in removing unwanted details without messing up the whole canvas. Outline your logo image for distinction and fill it with colors as you wish. Then, it is ready for export when you’re satisfied with the outcome.

Illustrator and Photoshop are both excellent applications used in digitizing Vector images and Raster images, respectively. However, you must know that these programs do not come for free. There is a monthly subscription for you to use it and the tools that come with it. Unless you are capable of subscribing to both, it is beneficial to do more research on which one you can benefit more from.

Just remember that Adobe Illustrator is mostly used for Vector images or artworks, and Adobe Photoshop is for Raster images.

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

There are different steps in converting your image into an embroidery file and it would require you to have programs suitable for digitizing it, as we have discussed previously, and software to convert those digitized images into embroidery files that your machine can read.

Machine embroidery files contain all the necessary information needed so your machine can execute the stitches correctly. This may include how many different threads are needed, their colors and where to stitch them according to the design.

Programs like Illustrator and Photoshop can be used for digitizing your images. Illustrator embroidery plugin like Embroidery i2 is also available if you want your vector images to be converted directly into embroidery patterns. Otherwise, you may purchase an independent software that can convert your digitized images into embroidery files. Their prices may differ and one software might not work for certain brands of machine. Prior to purchasing, it is advised that you research and check what works best for your type of machine.

How To Convert JPG To PES?

convert jpg to pes

JPG or JPEG stands for Joint Photogenic Experts Group. They developed JPEG in 1992 and they developed JPG later on for smaller photographic files. On the other hand, PES refers to the Physics Editor Sheet File. This format is common for embroidery machines like Brother embroidery machines.

Before you can convert JPG images into PES, you have to digitize them first. We have discussed the different programs you can use for this step. Now, let’s talk about the different softwares you can use to convert your digitized images to PES. However, some software is used only for specific brands, so you have to be cautious of that.

1. Using Inkstitch to Convert a JPG Image to PES

Ink/stitch is a free embroidery digitizing program. It is a plugin for Inkscape, a vector based program capable of converting vector images to embroidery files. You can’t convert JPG images directly to embroidery files, your image should be vector-based and then converted to a Path. This can be done within the program. However, beginners might need to practice and get to know the tools first for an efficient process.

When your vector-based image is ready and saved as a Path, you can turn it into an embroidery design. Essential functions needed for the next steps can be found under “Ink/Stitch” on the extension menu. This menu gives you the option to specify what type of stitch you want and save it as a preset for future use.

Once you’re satisfied with the settings, you are then ready to export. Choose the Embroider option from the Ink/Stitch menu found under the extension and choose your desired embroidery format. In this case, choose PES.

2. Using SewArt To Convert A JPG Image To PES

SewArt is an application that can turn Raster or Vector images into embroidery files. Although this is a paid application, you can avail a 30-day trial if you want to experience using it before you commit to spending money. SewArt is capable of reading all image file types, however, the simpler the image, the easier to convert.

This application places a lot of emphasis on creating embroidery designs from preexisting graphics. SewArt’s conversion process is quite easy since it is an auto-digitizing program. Simply import the image into the application, reduce the number of colors and edit it further so that it’s more suitable for embroidery. Save your refined image and convert it into PES or the appropriate format according to your machine.

3. How Do I Convert JPEG to PES In Embird?

Embird is an embroidery editing software which also offers digitalization of your images. This application offers a lot of training programs and learning modules to help you maximize its functions. Purchase and installation of Embird gives you access to free embroidery designs to help you practice and familiarize the tools.

Embird Studio is the digitization part of Embird. This step is crucial before you can convert your JPEG files into a stitch file. One good tip is to digitize your image as close as possible to the final product size. This is to save you time and energy as you go along the process of conversion.

Once you have your digitized image, run Embird and select the design you want to convert. Select Convert Files on the Right Panel menu and choose PES or the specific format for your machine brand. The conversion process may take a while but when it’s finished, you can find the converted file in the same folder as your imported design or your source file.

How To Convert JPG to DST?

convert jpg to dst

DST or Data Stitch Tajima is a commonly-used embroidery format originally developed by the Tajima group. Just like PES, this format contains the necessary instructions your machine needs to stitch your design accordingly.

Digitizing is still the first step in converting your JPG images into DST with the use of digitizing software. Converting your image to DST format is not a quick and easy process. If you already have applications like Embird, you can readily import your digitized image and convert it to DST for export.

However, if you are a beginner and you don’t have the time to learn digitizing, there are plenty of digitizing services you can find online for reasonable fees.

How Do I Convert SVG Files to Embroidery Files?

As you already know, there are different ways of converting your images to embroidery files. Conversion programs like Embrid, Inkscape (Ink/Stitch), and SewArt are available.

Just like in a JPG file, vectorizing your SVG images is also essential. You can do this through Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape (Ink/Stitch). Trace the necessary lines you would like to have embroidered and export it accordingly for conversion.

To convert your vectorized SVG files, simply open your choice of embroidery file software and import the vectorized SVG image. From there, you can export it to any embroidery file compatible with your embroidery machine.

How Do You Simplify An Image For Embroidery?

There are plenty of ways to simplify an image for embroidery. As a basic rule, the simplest image makes the best final embroidery outcome. Colors and details are a big factor in digitizing your image. The more color it has the more stitches you’ll need.

To simplify your image, you can import your image of choice into Illustrator and trace over the important lines only. If the original image has a lot of line details, you can omit those and focus only on the outlines and necessary details.

Another tip would be to remove unnecessary backgrounds first before importing. You can do this through for free. It does a good job of removing unwanted details so you can focus on the image itself when digitizing. If you are using auto-digitizing software like Embrid or SewArt, reducing the number of stitches would be helpful, too.

How To Make An Embroidery File From DXF File?

DXF stands for Drawing Exchange Format, a type of vector file. This format is often used for 2D and 3D designs and can be used in software like AutoCAD. Since the DXF format is already a vector file, converting it to an embroidery file would be easier.

Inkscape (Ink/Stitch) and Embird are capable of reading DXF files. They can convert it to your desired embroidery file. You can directly import your DXF image into any of these programs and start the conversion process. Just like in the previous formats, the procedure is pretty much the same. The only difference is that there is no need for you to undergo digitalization.

Top 4 Websites To Convert An Image To Embroidery File Online

Converting images into Embroidery Files can cost a lot especially if you want to do it through digitizing services. For beginners who want to save and do manual conversion, there is free and affordable software for you.

  1. Inkscape (Ink/Stitch) – as what we have discussed before, this is a free digitizing program and it is capable of converting your images into embroidery files. Since it is a free program, the number of files it can read and convert is limited to the common ones like JPG/JPEG, PNG, and SVG files, and PES and DST files, respectively.
  2. SewArt – this is a paid auto-digitizing program that can convert your JPG files into embroidery files. It has a 30-day free trial if you are not yet committed to spending money and would like to test out the program first.
  3. Embird – This is another affordable program for digitizing images. It provides a lot of modules and guides which can be helpful for beginners. There are also more format options for conversion. However, if you want to have advanced functions that aren’t found in the basic software, you will have to purchase plug-ins which can be an additional cost. A free 30-day trial is available if you are curious and would like to try out the program.
  4. Hatch Embroidery – this program is the priciest on this list. This software is produced by Wilcom, a well known company in the embroidery industry. It has 4 modules which are included in the specific type you purchase. Unlike in Embird, you don’t have to pay for the other modules since they are included upon purchase. This program has more functions compared to the previous software mentioned and therefore a more advanced Option. If you are only looking for basic conversion functions, this program might be too pricey for you.

Can All Image Files Be Converted To Embroidery Files?

Yes, all image files can be converted to embroidery files. Raster images can be converted to Vector files which are most commonly used in embroidery file conversions. We have identified a few programs capable of digitizing images for conversion through embroidery software.

Given how advanced our technology is nowadays, programs for embroidery files are constantly developed and more functions are added compared to old times. Although this process may cost a lot of money, the functions available are a big help in saving time and unnecessary effort.

We have identified the essential information you need to start your embroidery file conversion process. Keep in mind that not all embroidery machines recognize the same embroidery file type. You have to know the specific format so your machine can stitch your design properly.

May your designs come to life how you imagine it to be. Happy sewing!


Hello, I am Jessica Flores, and you are welcome to my website. I am a professional fashion designer and a seamstress. I always carried a passion for craftwork. My love for craft grew along with time. I have spent years researching and practicing in this field to gather colossal experience.

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