Aesthetic Embroidery

Our class was back in the FabLab this week. The Champaign-Urbana community is privileged to have these creative tools at our disposal. Instead of a tour, we headed straight to the embroidery machines in the back room. I had no previous sewing experience, which made these machines difficult to comprehend.

My instructor started by showing us how to use the design software. I thought it was similar to the software used for the laser cutter last week. I wonder if in the future there will be one universally accepted design software that is compatible with multiple digital making machines. Familiarizing ones-self with the features in each software is time-consuming. When I was creating my design, all the tips I learned last week were irrelevant. I think a common design platform would greatly expedite community innovation.

I was designing a cloth top for the box I laser cut last week. The instructor ran into some problems with my box during the cut, and it actually caught on fire. Although this happens quite often, there is nothing you can do besides restart. The second cut went fine and I managed to assemble my box without breaking any pieces. I found I enjoy the smell of the laser-singed wood.

My cloth design included a lighthouse, sailboat, and the moon. I used a spool of thread that alternated between white and blue. The sails on the boat turned out great with this alternating pattern. I didn’t realize that our mini-projects each week were going to be combined. Consequently, my combined creations aren’t the most cohesive.

Before printing, I had to wrap the thread around hooks on the machine to immobilize it. The last step is pulling the thread through the eye of the needle, which ironically felt old-school. I thought all this was overkill but was quickly proven wrong once the sewing machines turned on. They rapidly and repeatedly pulled the needle through the cloth. I didn’t want my fingers getting anywhere close to it. I was worried that the connecting thread between the three objects in my design would look awkward. The machine cuts thread itself when switching between objects, so I simply trimmed the remnants.

Luckily my first sewing project finished without incident. Other students weren’t so lucky. Sometimes the thread gets tangled or stuck. The machines are working so fast it is inevitable. My lack of sewing experience would have made me useless if that happened to me.

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