Create embroidered patches from digital images

Picture of Create embroidered patches from digital images
Reproducing digital artwork in embroidery isn't hard if you follow these simple steps. I'll show you how using the fffffatlab text. These and more are available for purchase in the fffffat etsy shop.

Materials and tools:
fabric on which to embroider
embroidery floss
embroidery hoop
embroidery needle
fabric for backing (optional)
sewing machine (optional)

if using dark or opaque fabric the following are also needed:
ballpoint pen
chalk or conti crayon

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Step 1: Trace your artwork

Picture of Trace your artwork
If you're using a light colored fabric, you may be able to trace directly on the fabric. In this case, I'm using a very opaque canvas fabric, so I had to first trace the design on paper, directly from my computer screen. Don't use a drawing implement that requires too much pressure or that will bleed through onto your monitor. A regular ballpoint pen works just fine.

Step 2: Chalk it up

Picture of Chalk it up
If you traced your design directly onto your fabric, skip this step. Turn your paper template over and apply chalk or conti crayon to the back (in a color that will be visible on your fabric). Shake off the dust and place the paper template on your fabric. Trace over the design with a dull pencil or ballpoint pen, transferring the lines of the design onto your fabric. Be careful not to touch it too much after this, as the chalk will rub off with your touch.

Step 3: Start embroidering

Picture of Start embroidering
Stretch your fabric in your embroidery hoop. Select your floss color and get started. Use whatever stitches you feel are appropriate, and don't be afraid to experiment. I used the satin stitch for these. A great dictionary of stitches with video tutorials can be found at Needle'nThreadNeedle'nThread. It may be helpful to keep your reference image up on your monitor so you can keep track of small details that might have been lost in the tracing transfer. When finished, take your fabric out of the hoop and shake off any remaining chalk. Iron out the creases from the hoop.
uwarren9 months ago
What fabric did you stitch onto? I could have missed it in the instructable.
sabbott7 years ago
Great instructable, you've given me some good ideas. To add to what rusty said, if you have Photoshop elements, there is no "create path" command. Instead you would use Edit/Stroke after using the magic selector tool. You could also create a stamp of an image first, using the tools Filter / Sketch / Stamp -- although it would not be as smooth. But this method would permit creating images from photos of faces, for example, which could be quite interesting. Yeeks, too bad I need to get back to work!
Alterscape7 years ago
I've always wanted to learn how to make patches. This Instructable not only explains this specific technique, but includes enough extra links to pick up the basics. Lots of reading material here. Thank you for this content! :)
rusty01017 years ago
If you are looking for a way to trace from an image that is mostly solid colors, you could use the magic select in The GIMP or Photoshop, then use the function 'create path from selection, which will create a 'path' that follows the border of what you selected. Now create a new layer with a solid white background, then use the function 'stroke path' use a 2 or 4 pixel wide black pencil, to 'draw' the path onto this layer. Print the layer. Then you can use a light table for white/translucent fabrics, or the chalk / crayon (or even correction tape paper) technique to transfer onto other fabrics. Looks good by the way. As an observation, you could use a technique like this to embroider in several colors, The original image includes a drop shadow which you could emulate by adding a quarter to half an inch of a different shade along the right and lower edge of everything you did embroider. Just thoughts.
bekathwia (author)  rusty01017 years ago
Awesome, thanks for the tips!
timderami7 years ago
Another tool one might use to transfer the design to the fabric is a glass cutter. It need not be sharp and does a good job especially on long, sweeping curves. Keep up the good work.
m.c.cookie7 years ago
As a founding member of the He-Man Quilting Club and Needle Exchange Sewing Circle I've got to tell you I'm psyched. Nice technique and nice, thorough instructable. Rock on.

Hey computerwiz_222... NICE!
are you the only member of said club? i could find no info about it on the internet
msthimble7 years ago
Beautifully done! You have made embroidery so modern!
I like to make very tiny "x"'s when stitching computer graphics. I think it is called a crossstitch. Heres some pics of a hackaday one that i started, but never quite finished. What do you think?
bekathwia (author)  computerwiz_2227 years ago
Excellent! Looks fantastic. Cross stitch is another technique that translates very well from the computer to needlework. You can use pixel fonts to design text layouts, and photoshop to reduce the resolution of an image to make it cross-stitchable.
donovand7 years ago
It's not as low budget, but you could probably use the pre-chalked paper that is used to transfer sewing patterns to fabric instead of rolling your own. This would be less messy, since the pre-chalked stuff doesn't come off as easily.
mikeyk7 years ago
nice instructable. i gotta order some embroidery hoops.
You should try looking at Goodwill before you order any. Thrift stores almost always have a ton of embroidery hoops, and they're really cheap.
my local one has a rubber,maid container full of them.
Great job, I've been wanting to see an Instructable quite like this for some time, great job! +1 rating. +1 vote.
rachel7 years ago
Nice technique! and very well explained. I had honestly never thought of making my own patches but as I'm making a new backpack now I'll have a place to put patches so I may just use this.
jamiew7 years ago