Embroidered Patches From Photos

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About: Making and sharing are my two biggest passions! In total I've published hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. I'm a New York City motorcyclist and unrepentant dog mom. My ...

Intro: Embroidered Patches From Photos

This tutorial describes how I made embroidered patches to memorialize my cat, Beatrice. My sweet kitty lived a long and adventure-filled 17 years, but recently passed away. You could use this technique to create an embroidered patch from any image, really. I’m going to walk you through the things that I did, but there’s a bunch of different tools you could use instead for each step to arrive at a similar result (like tracing directly from the computer screen like in my similar 2008 'ible).

For an excellent introduction to embroidery, try Jessy's free embroidery class.

Supplies and tools:

Step 1: Posterize the Image

In Photoshop, I cropped down the photo I wanted to use and put it in grayscale mode. And then I increased the contrast and played with the levels so that the white were very light and the blacks were very dark, to bring out all of the detail when the image is simplified.

Go to Image -> Adjustments-> Posterize… this is going to reduce the number of colors in the image, which corresponds to the number of colors of floss you want to use in your embroidery. For me, that’s four, plus an accent color for my pretty kitty’s eyes.

Then I went to print it at different sizes on a piece of paper because I wasn’t sure exactly what size I wanted it to be, and found that if I reduced the opacity, it was easier for me to trace it later.

Step 2: Trace the Image

I used a small-tipped Micron pen to trace the different regions so that I could see them better when I put it on top of my light mat. That thing is awesome, by the way.

Then I chose a light colored fabric to place on top of the drawing and used my water soluble marking pen to trace the drawing again onto the fabric. The ink from this pen will disappear later when I spritz the whole thing with water.

I put the fabric in my embroidery hoop to prepare for stitching.

Step 3: Stitch

I used an embroidery stitch called the satin stitch, which is just many stitches right next to each other that fill up a whole field. I was a little bit loose about where the stitches started and ended, I just didn’t want any of them to be too long so that they would hang off the patch.

I repeated the process for several more images of my pretty kitty and printed them out at all different sizes to get a variety going. On the smaller ones I found that I only needed to use half of the strand of embroidery floss, otherwise the line was kinda too chunky for the overall size of the patch.

Step 4: Edge Finishing

At this point, it’s just a regular embroidery. You could stick it to a mat and frame it like this, but I wanted to cut it out and turn it into a patch. So I tried a couple different edge-finishing techniques, the first of which was just to do a binding stitch with the embroidery floss all around the edge. But that didn’t work out as well as I had hoped with the fabric being a little bit flexible and it sort of made the edges a little ruffly.

So then I switched to the sewing machine, and I would sew one straight line around and then a zigzag stitch, and then I’d cut it and do a zigzag stitch to capture that raw edge, and that sorta seemed to work the best for me. But I still wish I could have finished the whole thing by hand.

Step 5: Enjoy!

Embroidered patches go great on jackets, and bags, and hats, you know, anywhere. And you can pin it in place with safety pins or sew it in place permanently, or even glue it. I chose to sew this one onto my jean jacket.

For more stitches and other proper embroidery tutelage, try Jessy's free embroidery class!

These patches were a whole lot of fun to make, and I got to spend that time sort of reminiscing about my sweet kitty, and I think it’s a great way to memorialize a dear friend.

And also check out the art print I made of all of these embroidered patches and the backs of the embroideries. I put the print and some merch based on it in my digital shop.

Thanks for reading and I'd love to see your patches and feedback in the comments!

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    14 Discussions

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    aCuriousCreator

    1 year ago

    This is awesome :) perfect for cat crazy people (like me) thanks for sharing!

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    Okok

    1 year ago

    My dear Pira has just left us after over 14 years with us, Im thinking of preparing some patches too... Maybe a big one for a bag?
    Great instructions and pics!

    El Pira.jpg
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    gralan

    1 year ago

    Uh oh, I've got a new project to do. And I just finished up weaving some holes in my dress trousers, so I know where the floss, thread, cloth, needles and hoops are. Woo Hoo.

    Thank you.

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    38ren

    1 year ago

    Adorable patches and even cuter cat! Sorry for your loss by the way :(

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    OneBirdieMa

    1 year ago

    Excellent! I'm sad for you, losing your kitty, but there's always the Rainbow Bridge . . . we all cross one day. // Your work is beautiful. Might I suggest a blanket stitch binding for the edge? If the fabric really is too soft/flexible, try cutting the patch a little large and then fold or roll the edge under to give it more body. // I make patches for my husband's baseball caps, to cover what he's no longer interested in advertising on top of his head. Just another suggestion for using patches!

    the_rainbow_bridge_by_roaguewolf.jpg
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    bekathwiaOneBirdieMa

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! For whatever reason I do not prefer the look of the blanket stitch. I did fold over the edge of the fabric before stitching the ones I did by hand, I should update the instructions to say so! Cool idea about making use of swag hats without the free ad space. =D

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    lolotoxOneBirdieMa

    Reply 1 year ago

    That's cool and kind of funny. I'll try it.

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    ash_doge

    1 year ago

    This is a really great instructable, your patches turned out amazing!

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    GlennW12

    1 year ago

    A beautiful tribute to your furry child, sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing!