Converting your own photo to cross stitch is a great way to capture a special moment or make a personalised gift.


There are two ways to create your cross stitch pattern: use automatic photo to cross stitch conversion services or dedicated sellers or have a go yourself using professional cross stitch charting software.

We’ve covered the basics of both methods to help you decide which way to make your photos into cross stitch.

Main image: DMC’s Stitch Your Photos service

How to convert a photo to cross stitch

Automated photo to cross stitch: DIY method

If you’re new to cross stitching, or don’t have access to professional cross stitch charting software, the easiest way to create photo-realistic designs is to use an automated service.

There are a number on the market, but one of the most well-known is DMC’s Stitch Your Photos service.

Simply upload a photo to the website and select options including size, stitch count and maximum number of different thread colours. Patterns can be customised to stitch on 14, 16 or 18-count aida, or 28 or 32-count even weave.

The system then converts your image into a whole stitch-only pattern that replicates the uploaded photo. These types of patterns can sometimes look pixelated close up, but when viewed from afar the subject becomes clearer.

You’ll receive an A4 cross stitch pattern, plus DMC colour codes and thread quantities. A PDF file is emailed to you after purchase is confirmed, to print at home or view on a compatible electronic device to stitch from.

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Accepted photo formats are JPG, PNG, BMP, TIF or GIF. If you have a printed photo you wish to use, you will need to scan it first and save it in one of these file formats.

photo to cross stitch main
Copyright: DMC

The quality of your cross stitch pattern depends on the quality of the photo. For best results:

  • Choose a high-quality image with good colour contrast
  • Choose an image with a plain background
  • Ensure the subject is in sharp focus

To avoid poor quality conversions, you should avoid:

  • Photos are taken from afar or where the subject is small
  • Blurry or out-of-focus photos
  • Photos that are too dark or too light
  • Low-resolution photos
  • Large areas of shadow or black shapes
  • Busy looking scenes
  • Letters or phrases

Photos of illustrations and drawings are also accepted, but remember it is your responsibility to make sure you own the copyright for the subject matter and the photo itself.

The more thread colours selected for your photo to cross stitch conversion, the better the final look of the design will be. With fewer colours, your design will have a more contemporary style, as the colour transitions will be harsher and shading may not be as well replicated.

The program is optimised, so the final number of colours included may vary anywhere under your maximum thread limit, so it’s best to pick a number higher than intended to allow for as many different colours to be used as necessary.

The service costs £9.99 per photo, or you can get the pattern free when you buy all the threads required at the same time. Don’t forget to add fabric and other accessories to your basket at checkout too. Or if you already have threads and fabric, simply select the PDF pattern option and you’re ready to stitch.

Photo to cross stitch custom service

If you don’t want to use an online converter and would prefer a pattern or kit to be sent to you directly. There are plenty of designers on sites like Etsy that will do the legwork for you. All you have to do is choose your photo!

Here are some top-rated designers we’ve hand-picked for you.

Customisable cross stitch photo PDF by Ladybird Stitch

  • Buy now, Etsy, £14.96 / $15.00
photo to cross stitch PDF

This is an easy way to start stitching your photos! All you need to do is make your purchase, send in your chosen photo and voila, Ladybird Stitch will do the rest!

There’s also the option to customise the photo. For example, you can specify if you would like the cross stitch to be just the subject of the photo and remove the background. This is particularly good if there’s a busy background in your photo.

There is the option of choosing the aida count too, remember the higher the count the smaller the holes in the fabric will be (and the longer it will take it to stitch)!

Once you’ve selected your options your PDF will be ready to download in just 24-48 hours.

Custom photo cross stitch kit by Amy Olivia Designs

  • Buy now, Etsy, £45.00 / $65.57
photo to cross stitch kit

If you want to have every aspect of your photo to cross stitch projects sorted for you then Amy Oliva Designs is for you!

The photo to cross stitch kit includes a pattern converted from your photo, all the threads you need, fabric and a needle. This means as soon as your kit arrives you can start stitching! It's a great way to take the hassle out of sourcing your own materials.

One thing to note is that your fabric will not be stamped with the pattern, it will be a counted cross stitch.

All you’ll need to do is send in your photo, and Amy Olivia Designs will do the rest!

Personalised photo embroidery kit by Heidi Hummingbird Hoop

  • Buy now, Etsy, £21.99 / $28.84
embroidery photo kit

It’s not cross stitch but it’s a great twist on adding stitching to a photograph! With this kit, you’ll send in your photo, and the seller will print it in black and white onto 100% natural calico fabric for you.

Once you’ve uploaded your photo you can choose up to six skeins of thread which are included in the kit. You’ll also receive an embroidery hoop and needle.

This unique project is a great way to add a pop of colour to any photo. It works particularly well for wedding photos.

Create your own photo to cross stitch

If you fancy having a go at creating your own photo to cross stitch pattern, you’ll need a professional cross stitch program. Discover the best pro-level cross stitch design software, tried and tested by our team of professionals.

Not all charting programs will have an automated photo to cross stitch feature, so check the specifications carefully before purchase. Or if you have software already, check to see if it has a tool for this. Every program will do it differently, so follow the instruction manual for information.

Generally, they will work in the same way as the DMC Stitch Your Photos service, which creates a whole stitch-only style design. Usually, you could expect to find options for choosing the size of pattern, stitch count of fabric, the maximum number of colours and the thread brand.

Cross stitch charting software reviews

Unlike third-party tools, you will have more control over the final look and finish of the design. You could edit or swap colours, add backstitch details, fractional or half stitches, or even make more significant adjustments to the shape or overall composition. You can also choose between your favourite thread brands, depending on the software used.

You also get the benefit of having as many attempts as you like! Although there is a cost outlay for the cross stitch charting software, you are then free to use the tool as and when you desire. This could save you money in the long run if you intend to do a lot of photo to cross stitch conversions.

Bring your photos to life with cross stitch

Enjoy seeing your photo come to life in stitches whether you choose to create your photo to cross stitch pattern using conversion programs or your own software.

It’s a fun way to expand your cross stitch hobby into making something personalised for your own home, or as a gift for someone special.


Try photo-realistic stitching

Before you take the plunge and pay for your photo to be turned into cross stitch, give it a try with our Morecambe and Wise cross stitch pattern. It’ll give you a taste of what it’s like to stitch with such great detail and find out if it’s for you.

morecambe and wise cross stitch pattern


Fiona BakerSenior Technical Editor, The World of Cross Stitching

Fiona is the Senior Technical Editor of The World of Cross Stitching. She’s responsible for the team of fabulous charters and taking the designer’s submitted projects right through to completion, ensuring each chart and key is technically correct for readers to stitch. One of her favourite roles is converting the wonderful illustrations by the likes of Margaret Sherry, Tatty Teddy, and Aardman Animations into patterns for stitchers around the world to enjoy. She also designs her own patterns at

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