How To Make Your Own Embroidery Pattern

January 14, 2021

You can use an embroidery program on your computer to design your own authentic embroidery pattern.

You can also turn your favorite drawings or photos into patterns to make your products completely unique.

How To Make Your Own Embroidery Pattern
flower design embroidery


Adobe products tend to be favored by many graphic designers. Once you get to grips with the working of the programs they are very easy to work with.

Adobe Photoshop is perfect for editing photographs and other images to ensure they look similar to how you wish the final result to be.

Adobe Illustrator is ideal for creating vector images, and InDesign is a great piece of software to publish your pattern on.

The only downside to Adobe software is that you must pay to use the programs. If you do not want to pay for the software, you could try using Gimp for photo editing and Inkscape for vector images.

There are loads of tutorials for how to use each of these softwares available online.

Tracing the design

When you are happy with the design of your embroidery, you need to trace the outline. You should also trace any main lines in the design. You should use a fine-tipped and black pen for clarity and accuracy. The best one to use is a Micron art pen, like this

If you have opted to use a photo instead of a drawing, you will need to cover the picture with a sheet of tracing paper. Draw over the main lines of the photograph, that you intend to embroider. 

You do not need to follow every single line as this can easily become confusing. You need to have an outline to guide your stitching, and potentially some guidelines for areas that are to be filled. 

The simpler your design is, the easier it will be to transfer to your fabric. The fewer lines your design has the less complex the embroidery process will be. 

Upload your design

We suggest scanning your traced drawing to upload it to your computer. If you do not have a scanner, you can use your phone to take a picture and then transfer this to your computer.

Pictures will automatically be in the file format .jpg or .jpeg. Convert this format to a .gif using Photoshop or another software of your choice.

Create a scalable vector of this image and save as a PDF. This can then be printed off and transferred to your fabric.

How to transfer the design to the fabric


Place your design on a window or lightbox and secure in place. Hold the fabric over the design and trace the lines of the pattern using a marking pencil.

Alternatively, you can trace your design onto tracing paper. Pin this to the fabric and poke holes at regular intervals along all of your pattern’s lines. If your design has curved edges, we suggest the holes along the curves should be spaced closer together. 

Embroider the design through both the tracing paper and the fabric. Do not pull the thread too tight as this can cause the fabric to ruche. Once you have finished embroidering, tie the thread off. 

Gently tear away the tracing paper from around the edge of the pattern. Take care not to pull too hard and warp the pattern.

Heat transfer pens

These are ideal for use on all fabric types, both heavy and lightweight. You can get them in a variety of colors and weights, so you can choose one best suited to your design. You should trace your pattern in reverse on a piece of parchment paper.

Try to draw the lines as thin as possible. The ink will not wash out of the fabric and so you want to make them appear as invisible as possible. The ink is activated using the heat from an iron.

To transfer the ink onto your fabric ready to embroider, you will need to lay the fabric flat on an ironing board. Place the parchment paper onto the fabric, with the design directly in contact with the fabric. 

Don’t run your iron back and forth across the design as this will cause the ink to seep across the fabric. Instead, lift and place the iron repeatedly until the entire design has been transferred.

Transfer paper

This is ideal for use on thick fabrics. The paper is wax or carbon-based and is commonly known as dressmaker’s carbon paper. It has a coating of powdered ink on one side which is washable. 

Lie your fabric facing up on a countertop. Lay the transfer paper on the surface, with the powdered ink side touching the fabric. Etch out your design onto the transfer paper, pressing firmly to transfer the lines. 

We suggest using a lighter colored transfer paper on darker fabrics, and vice versa. 

Water-soluble stabilizer

This is a great method to use on dark colored fabrics or when you need to transfer a very detailed pattern. The embroidery pattern is printed on the surface of the stabilizer. This is then laid on top of the fabric.

You stitch through both the stabilizer and the fabric to create your design. When you are happy with the finished product, place the fabric into a bowl of warm water. This will cause the stabilizer to dissolve and you will just be left with the embroidered pattern.

You should take care to ensure that your fabric is washable and that your thread will not lose its color when soaked. 


This is an old-fashioned way to transfer embroidery patterns to fabric. The embroidery design is printed out on a sheet of paper which is then pinned onto the fabric.

Once the design has been secured, take a pin and make small holes at regular intervals along the lines of the pattern.

A powdered colour pigment, such as chalk, is then ‘pounced’ through the holes. This uses a fabric pad to force the color through the holes. This is less commonly used now, but you can still find punching supplies in speciality sewing stores. 

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