16. Wildcard Week - Embroidery¶
Compared to the other structured assignments I’ve completed in weeks past, this week Wildcard assignment was left up to us. Following the criteria of designing and producing something with a digital fabrication process (incorporating computer-aided design and manufacturing) not covered in another assignment, I decided to use our labs Brother 6-Needle Home Embroidery Machine, and embroider my TW logo I’ve used on my work in prior weeks. (May 12)
Sewart Design Work¶
Starting the embroidery process, similarly to all other digital fabrication tools I’ve covered thus far in Fab Academy, I began this week with design work. Embroidery use during previous Fab Academy cycles wildcard week in our lab has left us with a better machine workflow, and softwares to use, one of which being Sewart. Sewart is a pretty intuitive embroidery design software, that I began this week’s assignment in, and I began the week by installing it.
I worked through this Sewart setup wizard on my computer, while thinking about what file to embroider. As mentioned earlier, I settled on embroidering a TW logo patch, using a TW logo image I designed a couple of years ago for use of my projects.
The entire Sewart interface isn’t crazy complex, as shown in the image above, but I found it helpful to watch through an interface workflow, covering all of the major tools in the interface, as well as some of best practices for preparing an image in the software before embroidery.
Keeping this interface workflow open for reference, I began work on my TW logo in the interface, by first creating a new file with the New button in the interface’s toolbar, and then using
File > Import
to pull in my TW logo .svg file. From here, referencing the interface walkthrough included above, I followed all recommended image processing steps. I first scaled the image to a smaller 1” x 2” rectangle, before reducing the image’s colors, leaving me with the prepared image in the interface shown below.
With the simple design prep in the Sewart interface done, I moved onto the creation of stitches for my logo, making use of Sewart’s Auto-Sew Image tool. This tool, found in the bottom half of Sewart’s top toolbar, allows for the selection of colors to autogenerate stitches for, a tool I used for both the blue and white parts of my TW logo, leaving me with the stitches shown below.
Upon the completion of this Auto-Sewing run, the file work for my logo was complete, and I saved the generated stitches file to our Brother 6-Needle Home Embroidery Machine’s USB flash drive as a .pes file, before plugging this USB back into the machine.
Machine Setup & Embrodiery¶
Before even touching the embroidery machine to being the setup, I looked through our lab’s assortment of colored threads, shown in the image to the left. Here I settled on a nice deep Blue colored thread as well as a pretty bright white one, to match the colors in my original design.
The before beginning any work on the machine itself, I listen to an explanation of the workflow by one of my professors, Dr. David Taylor, and also looked through the machines operation manual, attached as a PDF below. This operation manual, although long, ended up proving useful as a reference while troubleshooting a little later in the week.
With the manual skimmed, and the workflow in mind, I began the process of installing my two needed threads, by first putting the blue and white spools on the machine (shown below) and then routing the strings down the machine, following the arrows corresponding to the string path from the spools locations.
After the string has been routed down the machine, it needs to be run up and down a path, before installed in one of the machines 6 needles. Once run along the entire path, I next had to install the threads into their corresponding needles. The Brother 6-Needle Home Embroidery Machine makes this process relatively easy with a little practice, as the machine includes a wiper tool for each needle, where the thread can be hooked around manually before the machine automatically threads the thread through the eye of the needle.
I repeated this install process for the second needed thread and was left with both my blue and white threads installed, shown in the image below.
Although I had both of these colors set up physically, I had to address their colors digitally in the Brother 6-Needle Home Embroidery Machine’s interface. Using the operation manual as a reference, I switched the colors for needles 4 & 5 with blue and white thread colors.
With the threads chosen, installed, and set up in the machine’s interface, I next could move on preparing my cloth stock I would be embroidering on, as well as the backing paper behind it. Both the cloth stock and backing paper are stretched across one of the machine’s frames, with the cloth above the backing, and then clamped to the frame with a second clamping piece. The tension across this cloth stock and backing is important, as it’s important there are no wrinkles left in the material.
This frame, that the cloth stock and backing have been attached to, is then installed on the machine, by clipping the frame’s ends into the machine slot-like arms, and pushing until they click together.
Next, with all the machine and stock prep work done, I moved onto loading my file designed previously into the machine’s interface. I had previously already flashed this file to our machine’s USB stick and plugged it into the machine, so this process began with the selection of this file from the drive in the machine’s interface. From here, as shown in the video below, I scaled the design up to the max that could fit in my used frame and then confirmed the colors used in the file match the ones I had set up previously.
After this, the job was ready to be started, first by Locking the machine with the red Locking button in the lower left-hand corner of the interface, and then actually starting the job with the yellow flashing button below the machines display.
Unfortunately, this first embroidering attempt yielded unfinished results, as shown in the image below…
… and also an error on the interfaces screen
This error stemmed, as read in the error message above, from the machine’s bobbin, a part in charge of holding the string down when passed through the cloth stock. Dr. David Taylor helped me troubleshoot this error, referencing the Installing the Bobbin page of the operation manual throughout.
As made clear in this section of the manual, the bobbin is an important function of the embroidery machine and needs to be installed properly for the machine to operate properly. In our case, we had the bobbin flipped backward in its case, and although somehow the first half of this job went smoothly, the reversed bobbin was the main issue. Dr. Taylor flipped the reversed bobbin back around, and installed it in its proper orientation in the bobbin compartment shown below.
With this bobbin error sorted out, I followed the same file setup steps take during my first embroidery attempt, and then locked and started the job…
It worked! :) This time my job finished without error, and I was left with a pretty cool-looking TW patch, shown below.
- Click Here to access and download all of my files from this week