Adventures with Digital Embroidery

This week was the second FabLab workshop in which we got to try our hand at embroidery! During the workshop we learned several different functions within the software program in order to take an image from online and transform it into an image we were then able to embroider. I enjoy traveling, therefore I decided to embroider an image of a map for the top of my box. It did not go as smoothly as I expected going in so the rest of this post goes into the 3 main things I will look out for next time.

Lessons Learned

  1. Size Matters: One thing I did not carefully consider during this process was the size of the image. When making the map, I added an airplane and line coming from the US to signify travel while also making the image unique to me. However, when I went to load it into the embroidery machine, it turned out that it was too small to actually look like a plane but rather looks like a grey blob in the ocean. I know what it is though, so that’s what counts!

2. Double check thread before starting: My first attempt at this embroidery did not end up working. The white thread on the underside was not pulled taught when the machine started therefore about halfway through, the canvas ended up getting caught in the machine and I had to cut it out and start over with a new machine. The lesson learned here was to make sure both bobbins of thread are correctly inserted into the machine before starting.

3. Group colors within the image before exporting to machine: If you do not have all of the parts of an image that are the same color grouped within the software they may not sew consecutively, therefore you will need to change the thread color way too many times. I did not realize you can change the sewing order by moving around the items. For example, originally the machine sewed North America in pink, then South America in purple, and then went back up to sew Greenland so I had to change the thread color twice to the original pink color. In order to avoid this on my second run through, I made sure to group all of the colors and reorganize the object sewing order so that I would only have to insert each thread color once.

Overall, this experience was filled with lessons and definitely an exercise in patience but it was worth it! I have previous sewing experience however I have never made such a detailed embroidery before. I can definitely see myself creating various embroidery pieces to hang around my apartment in the future so I am glad I got the opportunity and experience with these machines and software.  I am happy with how it turned out and look forward to using conductive thread this upcoming week to add a couple lights!

Box Update: 

Another exciting part about this week was that I got to pick up my finished box from last week. We ran out of time in class to make all of the boxes so it made this class even more exciting since I got to pick up the pieces and assemble it. I’m really happy with how it turned out and look forward to displaying it in my room!

4 thoughts on “Adventures with Digital Embroidery”

  1. Hi Helen,
    I really like the detailed designs on your box! It’s amazing how the technology in the FabLab can etch such detailed designs. I enjoyed your reflections on lessons learned, and I agree that the experience of threading the machine required much more time and concentration than I had anticipated. Your embroidery turned out really nice! I am excited to get back in the lab and put everything together this week.

  2. Hi Helen,

    I really enjoyed reading your post because I could relate to a lot of the challenges you faced during the embroidery workshop– I especially liked the tip you shared about grouping design elements by color within the software! That would’ve saved me a lot of time, and it’s definitely something I’ll do the next time I work with the digital embroidery machines.

  3. Hi Helen,
    I also had the same issue you had with the canvas getting caught in the machine. It kind of sucked to have to start over but I realized that these machines aren’t perfect and that failures are just a part of the process. I really like your design and color scheme and it works really well with your box.

  4. Interesting design ideas! It is difficult for the embroidery machine to transform pixelized images into small objects. The head of the needle has to re-enter a certain distance from the previous entry point. I thought it was funny that despite the technology we were using, I had to thread the needle by hand. Changing thread color by hand is very time consuming, but your cloth turned out great.

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