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.

What are the Most Common Image Formats?

Converting an image to an embroidery file presents varied format options. The choice often depends on the image’s characteristics: its type and its compression.

Raster vs. Vector Images

  • Raster Image: Comprises millions of colored pixels that together depict an image.
  • Vector Image: Consists of points and paths determined mathematically.

Compression: Lossy vs. Lossless

  • Lossy Compression: An image undergoes quality degradation upon compression, losing some data permanently.
  • Lossless Compression: An image retains all its quality during compression and can revert to its original state upon decompression.

most common image formats

Common Image Formats at a Glance

The table below lists several prevalent image formats, offering insights on their abbreviated names, type, compression method, and a concise overview.

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.

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.

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.

how to digitize a logo in photoshop

Digitizing with Photoshop: Step-by-Step

Scanning: Begin by scanning your logo at a minimum of 600dpi. This ensures high pixel density for optimal scaling.

Import and Clean: Once scanned, import your logo into Photoshop. Refine it by removing any unwanted spots.

Layering: Create layers for added details, enabling easy edits without affecting the entire image.

Outlining and Coloring: Trace around your logo for clarity, and infuse it with your chosen colors.

Export: When content with the design, export your digitized image.

While both Photoshop and Illustrator excel in digitizing, they focus on Raster and Vector images respectively. Note, these Adobe programs aren’t free; they come with a monthly subscription.

Choose wisely based on your primary needs: Illustrator for Vector artworks, and Photoshop 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 store all the essential details to guide your machine in executing the right stitches. These details might cover the number of threads, their colors, and the stitching sequence based on the design.

You can digitize your images using programs like Illustrator and Photoshop. If you want to directly convert your vector images into embroidery patterns, tools like the Illustrator embroidery plugin,

Embroidery i2, come in handy. Alternatively, you can buy standalone software that transforms your digitized images into embroidery files.

These software options vary in price, and some might not be compatible with certain machine brands. Before making a purchase, research and determine the best fit for your 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

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

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. 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.

4 Top Online Platforms to Transform Images into Embroidery Files

Transforming pictures into embroidery formats can be pricey, especially when opting for specialized digitizing services. However, for novices keen on a budget-friendly manual conversion, there are both free and cost-effective software solutions available.

Inkscape (Ink/Stitch)

Previously mentioned, Inkscape offers a no-cost digitizing solution. It efficiently turns standard formats such as JPG/JPEG, PNG, and SVG into embroidery file types like PES and DST. Do note, its free status limits its conversion capabilities to widely-used file formats.


This is a premium auto-digitizing software that specializes in converting JPG images into embroidery formats. If you’re hesitant about the investment, there’s a 30-day free trial to explore its features.


A cost-effective digitizing tool, Embird offers numerous modules and tutorials, making it beginner-friendly. It supports a wider range of file conversions, but advanced features come as paid plug-ins. Those keen to dabble can utilize their 30-day free trial.

Hatch Embroidery

The most premium option on this list, Hatch Embroidery is a creation by industry giant, Wilcom.

It boasts of comprehensive functionalities spread across four modules, all bundled in upon purchase. Given its advanced capabilities, those seeking basic conversion might find it on the steeper side in terms of pricing.

Remember, the right tool largely depends on your specific needs and budget.

Can All Image Files Be Converted To Embroidery Files?

Absolutely, every image file holds the potential to be converted into embroidery files. Primarily, raster images are transformed into vector files, which serve as the preferred format for embroidery conversions.

In our research, we’ve pinpointed several software solutions adept at digitizing images for such transformations.

Considering the rapid pace of technological advancements today, the evolution of embroidery software is noteworthy. Newer versions come equipped with an expanded range of features, offering a stark contrast to their older counterparts.

While delving into this process might require a considerable investment, the plethora of functionalities at hand significantly trims down both time and effort.

To get you started, we’ve distilled the crucial details necessary for your embroidery file conversion journey. Remember, an important caveat is that not every embroidery machine interprets the same file type.

So, it’s imperative to discern the exact format your machine requires to ensure flawless stitching of your design.

Here’s hoping your designs materialize exactly as you envision them. Wishing you a delightful sewing experience!



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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