Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Textile Assignment: Sewing and Digital Embroidery

This biweekly project was about sewing machines. For me, it is an interesting area with very limited knowledge/experience before.


Four stages were designed for us to learn the sewing-101. The first one was a very barebone practice: stitch the lines and curves drawn on a piece of cloth.

This stage gave me a hot start on sewing. Stitching feels smooth with the machine. Some reflection out of this experience was that although there are teeth helping to move the cloth while stitching, there is still a great level of freedom for the hands to guide the stitch line. This was a lesson of both bless and curse. It means for getting a beautiful straight line, we need to pay significant attention to the process throughout the operation.

The second stage was a pouch with both an outer cloth and a lining layer. With an extra piece of material, more techniques were then introduced. The old wisdom of hiding the stitch lines was of particular interest to me–stitch two pieces together and then reverse the sewed-together piece inside out. After guided-in the drawstrings with a skewer, I ended up with a useful and not bad looking bag. With very clear step-by-step instructions, I encountered few challenges for getting this pouch.

The third stage was the second lab session, which was about embroidery. This stage brought back some of our learned skills before in the process of fine-tuning the graphic. This mountaineer logo contains 5 colors. In the practice in class, the finished logo looks rather good on the white cloth. But later after I did it again on the yellow cloth for the fourth stage, the gap between the blue sky and the orange ring became more noticeable. It is still fine for classwork, but imagine if this happens for a commercial product. It would look cheap for the brand. This was not reflected in the software planning stage, I’m still not quite sure how to prevent such crack on the finish. Simply extend both colors’ shape has the danger of stacking. Or maybe, I should have zoomed in more in the software.

The last one was quite a challenge. I picked one of the highest difficulty among those pre-approved patterns–a bag with many elements. I’ve made a mistake in choosing the materials. The exterior material was very stiff and the lining was super stretchy. This made the stitching process a total hell. It was almost impossible to lineup two pieces for an acceptable finish. Also, because of the thickness of the yellow material, the button parts can barely hang on. One of them just fell off after one use. This stage taught me alot. Sewing pieces together and create a useful and aesthetically acceptable and durable textile product is not as easy as it looks. Lots of planning and techniques are needed for a good finish.

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