Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Turn your photographs into Embroidery patterns

Hey everyone! I saw this iphone case online quite awhile ago. If you follow me on facebook, you've seen it already. It got me thinking: "what is the best way to make your own cross stitch patterns from photos you really love? I found this image of poppies in Tuscany, Italy on a stock backgrounds site and I really like it so I thought it would be the perfect candidate to try and turn into something you could cross stitch.

The process I use is pretty basic, all you need is a photograph, and a photo editing program you are comfortable with. I happen to have Photoshop (or rather, my husband does on his computer, and it's what I used in college so it's what I prefer). There are plenty of good photo editing programs out there though, you'll just have to poke around with them to find the tools I used here.

First, open your photo in Photoshop. I generally make a copy of my original image and then paste it into a new document, to make sure I don't accidentally ruin my initial image (Not that this has EVER happened before...). Once you have this new document, feel free to crop your image, adjust levels and do any other image tweaking you want before you turn it into a pattern for embroidery (you may not want all of your flat blue sky, etc). Once I have my image cropped how I like it, Go to your "filter" menu, select the "pixelate" tab, and go to "mosaic". This will break up your image into tiny squares. You can adjust the size of these squares to give as much or as little detail in your final image as you like. Keep in mind, each square will typically make one stitch in your pattern, so the smaller your squares, the more stitching you will be doing.

Here is what you will get once you apply your mosaic filter. As you will see, the image is slightly abstract when compared to the original, but you can still see the basic image. However, it can be pretty hard to differentiate squares from each other. You can deal with this a couple of ways. First, you can enlarge your image making the squares bigger and easier to see. This isn't the best solution, as depending on the original size and quality of your image it may become very blurry when you increase the scale. My method of choice involves using more filters!

Again, go to your filter tab. This time go to the "sharpen" tab. Each image varies a little, but you will likely use some combination of "sharpen", "sharpen edges" and "sharpen more" to define the edges of your squares so you may more easily read your new pattern!

At this point you can print your image onto paper, or if you want to be more green in your crafting, you can move your stitching to your computer desk and use your pattern from the screen (this can be handy as you can zoom in and out if you think it is still hard to follow your squares).

That's all there is to it! I'm sure there are many other people who have similar techniques. If you have any tips I'd love to hear them.

Happy Crafting!


  1. <3 this idea. I know there are computer programs out there than can turn any photo or image into a cross-stitch (or even knit or crochet!) pattern. But I'm sure they cost way too much. This is definitely a handy tutorial.

  2. Love this!I use Photoshop a lot...and I love that there is something new I can use it for =D

  3. Thanks! It also works for quilting, but the thought of cutting out all the squares makes me a bit hesitant to even suggest it :D