18. Wildcard week

I decided to learn how to use the new embroidery machine we have in the lab for this week. Mr. Rudolph and Dr. Taylor gave us overviews of the embroidery process, from how to use Inkstitch to the actual use of the machine.


Installing Inkstitch

I downloaded it from this Github page that was linked on the official Inkstitch page. I made sure to download the English version that is compatible with Mac.

I followed the installation instructions on the Inkstitch install page underneath 2. Install.

  1. Download the proper version of Inkstitch at the above link.

  2. In Inkscape, go Edit > Preferences > System.

  3. Look for the path of the User Extensions. Copy the path name.

  4. Go to this location on your computer.

  5. Put all the contents of the downloaded, unzipped folder (obtained in step 1) into the current folder (from step 4).

  6. Restart Inkscape.

When Inkscape reopens, Inkstitch should be available underneath Extensions.

Design in Inkscape

My brother is coming home this weekend and plays Super Smash Bros Melee competitively, so I wanted to make him a welcoming present. I wanted to make him the Smash ball, shown below.

I didn’t trace the bitmap of this image because I totally forgot about this function (I haven’t used Inkscape intensively in a long time). I simply eyeballed the image and tried to replicate it manually on Inkscape. Afterward, Kai reminded me of the trace bitmap function.

To start, I just made a circle (with a diameter of just over an inch) and guesstimated where the two rectangles should go. Then, I used the Exclusion tool underneath Path. It subtracts one shape from another; I did this for both rectangles.

Once I did this, there were bits of the leftover rectangle on the outside of the circle. I tried to ungroup the objects, but it didn’t work; it stayed as a unit. So, I selected everything and created nodes with the second tool in the toolbar. By deleting the nodes at the corners of the shapes, I was able to delete the leftover rectangle pieces.

It resulted in something that looked very similar to the original Smash Ball design, especially considering that I kinda just eyeballed everything.

Then, I just created a larger circle around the existing circle and changed the fill and stroke settings. I created a clear fill and a red stroke (0.05 in). I used the Align and Distribute tools to ensure that the circles were concentric; I placed both objects in the center of the page.

Final design:


Once I designed everything, I had to use the Object to Path function on all of the shapes. Otherwise, Inkstitch would not be able to work with what I had designed.

When I tried to open the Inkstitch Param function underneath Extensions > Inkstitch, it gave me a bunch of errors.


I learned that I had to make sure each individual piece was separate (they had been grouped). So, I used the Break Apart function to separate the pieces of the Smash ball. As shown in the image below, each piece is separate.

Then, I was successfully able to open up the Inkstitch Params menu. On the left, it shows the options and settings. On the right, it shows a preview.

I went through and left the default settings for all 5 pieces of my design. One thing about Inkstitch is that each individual piece must be set up for embroidery. There is no select all function, but there is a function that enables the user to use the settings used in the previous piece as the current one. In the future, I might like to learn how to edit the functions better. For the first try, though, the default functions were ok.

Here’s what a simulated piece looks like:

Final inkstitch path:

To export, go to Extensions > Inkstitch > Embroider.

Then, the below window will pop up, and I used the following settings. In order to save the .dst file, I obtained the path of the folder I wanted to save the .dst file in and pasted it into the box. Then, I pressed Apply.

To get the .dst file ready for the embroidery machine, I put it onto a flashdrive.

Download my .dst file

Download my .svg file (Inkscape file)

Using the machine

Our machine is the Brother 6-Needle Home Embroidery Machine.

After I plugged in the flashdrive, I went to the main menu and went into the flashdrive section. I found my file and selected it.

Then, I went to select my colors. I did not touch the sizing of the piece because I had already designed it with the correct dimensions.

Within the color selecting area, I made all of the colors making up the Smash ball black and the outline red, just like I had it on the Inkscape file. To do this, I selected the color that I wanted (here, black) and pressed the button that I am pointing to in the picture. I repeated this process until all of the colors were set.

For my fabric, we used leftover pieces of fabric. We didn’t use anything super stretchy because that type of fabric would be very difficult to get extremely taut on the hoop. You would have to manipulate and pull the fabric a lot.

I took some trace paper that I had cut to size and the fabric and laid it in this order: top hoop, fabric, trace paper, bottom hoop. Then, I placed the embroidery hoop into the arms of the machine.

Rethreading the machine

One of the threads that I needed was undone when I got there. So, I had to rethread it.

First, I used the circled function to move the threader to the spool that I needed to rethread. Red is number five, so I moved it there. Then, I pressed the button indicated to bring the rethreading tool to the needle, shown in the second photo.

I put the red thread underneath all three little metal pieces.

Finally, I pressed the rethreading button again to rethread the machine.

To start embroidering, I pressed Edit End. I then unlocked the machine by pressing the Lock button. When the button was green, I could start the embroidery process by pressing the green arrow button below the lock button.

A video of the machine embroidering:


I accidentally embroidered the excess fabric to the smashball. Though I wasted fabric, this mistake did not actually have any negative consequences. I just had a stiffer patch.

I cut it out, and I got my final patch:

Sew Art

I decided to also learn how to use another application, Sew Art. We got it by activating the 30 day free trial. Thanks to Katie for teaching me how to use it!

I think Sew Art is super useful for making an embroidery pattern out of an existing image. I decided to embroider a simplified Great Wave off Kanagawa.

First, I resized the image to have a 2in width. I let the length be locked to the width, and it ended up being 1.3in tall.

I used the Posterize function to simplify the image by just playing around with the settings. I also despeckled the image here. This was the result:

Then, I used the Merge Colors function to only have three colors. Initially, I had a lot of colors (maybe around 15). I kept merging all of the blues, purples, and beiges together until I only had those three.

I used the Fill tool to actually define the colors I wanted: blue, white, and black.

When I entered the Stitches Workspace, I had to define the color that I wanted each section to be. Again, I just used blue, black, and white.

I exported the file as a .pes and saved it to the flashdrive again, and I set up the machine in the same way that I did the previous patch.

A timelapse of the embroidery:


Download my files for the Great Wave patch