Gear Threads

Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

Etsy creator Brill and Ben is a crafter after our own hearts. As stitcher Brill puts it, “I had a light bulb moment in a little seaside shop. Surrounded by a mass of cute embroidery I thought that if I never saw an embroidered cup cake or puppy on a tea cosy it wouldn’t be a minute too soon.” Oh yes, we’ve felt that agony too…

So with that revelation, a new shop was created juxtaposing vintage inspired and once-loved thrifted linens with one-of-a-kind and darkly humorous machine embroidered works.

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Her designs are both darkly elaborate and deliciously irreverent when combined with the delicate tradition of embroidered linens. Having had just about enough of the cute and whimsical traditions of classic embroidery, she finds inspiration instead in rock carvings, steel engravings, graffiti, tattoos and the works of Poe. “My design process starts with inspiration. Usually an idea strikes at strange times, when my mind is running free. ”

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All the items in the store are machine embroidered, using digitizing techniques to create the designs. The process she works with is remarkably similar to industry digitizing techniques, drawing a design up larger than intended, scanning it, and then using embroidery software to begin creating the final design.

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The designs are created using 6D embroidery software, and she ensures all her designs are going to turn out just right by stitching test samples before ever going to linen. “There’s always something that needs tweaking, and quite often it’s at this stage that I decide to start over again. I think I did 4 versions of a lobster through to test embroidery before I was happy with it.”

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Even her final stitching technique is a delightful mix of old and new, using a Husqvarna Diamond embroidery machine for the designs, but a sturdy 1960′s sewing machine to finish the linens.

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Be sure to check out more over at Brill and Ben on Etsy, and rest assured from Brill herself, “I promise, no puppies and absolutely no cup cakes.”

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Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

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Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

 

Delightful things are coming out of PaleGray Labs, a collaboration between cartoonist/animator/quilter Nina Paley and scientist/author/software developer Theodore Gray. Based in Urbana, IL, this power duo is taking computerized stitching in creative new directions. They’ve done some machine embroidered animations, like these (and also this):

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Old-school embroidermation. Sort of.

Old-school embroidermation. Sort of.

And they’re putting their new quilting machine to great use in wonderfully geeky and challenging new ways:

Pale Gray labs specializes in creating stitchwork that is beyond the capacity of human beings; designs that can only be executed by robot. … Our speciality is the application of sophisticated mathematical techniques to the creation of single-line stitching instructions, starting from vector art (Adobe Illustrator, EPS, etc).

What’s that look like, you ask? There are these pretty Fibonacci spiral quilts:

Fibonacci sequins.

Fibonacci sequins.

And then there are the gigantic Thousand Dollar Quilts (full of more beautiful patterns, just like real money, and available at face value!):

Minting money on the quilting machine, named Behemoth.

Minting money on the quilting machine, named Behemoth.

The duo created these $1K bills as a more affordable version of Nina’s Ten Thousand Dollar Quilt (“Bargain”) — a snuggly commentary on the value of art and craft:

High-end art is a form of currency for elites. Art museums and critics encourage us peasants to believe the value in these “priceless art treasures” is based on utility (i.e., the more they cost, the more “genius” they contain). But the value of high end art is due to collectors attaching their surplus capital to it. …

Ironically (for ironic juxtaposition!) quilts are among among the most under-valued art forms. They also require more skill and time than almost any other art-making technique I’ve tried. The selling price of quilts seldom covers the costs of materials; quilters often prefer to give their quilts away. An “expensive” quilt usually costs more than the value of materials, but less than minimum wage for labor. I recently met a master quilter whose beautiful wall quilt, which took months of expert work and won many awards, was professionally appraised at $3,500. This is considered very high; had it not been widely displayed and won many awards, it would be “worth” far less.

A bargain.

A bargain.

Can’t wait to see what Nina and Theo will create next! In the meantime, check out the PaleGray site to see all the collaborations, take a closer look at those gorgeous Thousand Dollar Quilts, and peruse Nina’s blog for more of the stories and photos behind these unique creations.

PaleGray's first-ever design for a quilting machine.

PaleGray’s first-ever design for a quilting machine.

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Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

 

 

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Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

This particular video has already been all over the internet and back, but we would be so very remiss if we here at Gear Threads, who celebrate so fondly the work of machine embroidery, did not feature it. If you happen not to have heard of it, allow me to enthrall you with the first totally digitized and machine embroidered music video we’ve ever heard of – Tharsis Sleeps, from heavy metal band Throne.

 

Each frame of this epic animated adventure was individually machine embroidered onto fabric – all 45 million stitches of it. Director and band member Nicos Livesey gave an interview over on Dazed where he explained how the whole thing started.

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The original inspiration was metal band patches. I was making band patches on a sewing machine that could embroider with one needle. I remembered from when I was seven or eight years old, I’d seen an embroidery machine at a boat show and that always stuck in my mind. It mesmerised me and looked crazy, how it could embroider anything. When I was doing the band patches, I realised it was totally animate-able I could embroider it frame by frame and it would look mental.

The embroidery itself was stitched out on two industrial Brother machines supplied by Brother UK, and digitized with Wilcom software. The digitizing process did of course cause the band some headaches, like those in the industry are all too familiar with. Given the huge nature of the task, auto-digitizing was utilized heavily toconvert the files from the animation software, which can be unpredictable.

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In the beginning, nothing was going right. I was like, “This is impossible.” You’ve got to use this software to digitise the images into embroidery so the machines can read the image, but you’d convert it to stitch format and parts of the image would disappear randomly. I couldn’t really give up though, I was too far into it! You just have to fight through.

The project eventually got so overwhelming the band started a Kickstarter page to fund it, and got the backing of quite a few major players from the machine embroidery industry. In total, there were 3000 frames, each of which had to be individually hooped up under the machine and stitch anywhere from 20-90 minutess each. It’s an epic undertaking anda fantastic example of what happens when you put this kind of stitch technology in the hands of creative, if slightly obsessive, minds.

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Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

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Gear Threads Is The Mr X Stitch Machine Embroidery Column - Presented By Urban Threads!

Long ago, in a land far away, the earliest sewing machines used not the lockstitch you’re familiar with, but chainstitch. Machine embroidery happened, but it wasn’t digitized — deft artists guided fabric under the machines, painting pictures with those awesome textured stitches. Machine-sewn chainstitch has largely gone the way of the dinosaur, except for a few industrial applications — but in East LA, the Chain Gang are keeping this vanishing art alive and well, crafting custom patches for car and bike clubs.

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Tommy D and his crew of stitching artists (aka the Chain Gang) are old pros at this trade. Taking custom orders from all over the world, they create each design by hand, one at a time, on vintage sewing machines. A single patch can take hours, and when they’re finished, they look like nothing else.

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The Chain Gang doesn’t have a big online presence — clients find them through car and bike scenes, so frankly they don’t need it. Take a peek into the life of the Chain Gang on Instagram (@chaingang_la and @tommydkustom), read more about the crew at Lowrider magazine, and watch this awesome video for their collaboration with Lot, Stock and Barrel:

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Urban Threads - Unique and Awesome Machine Embroidery DesignsGear Threads is brought to you from the offbeat gals at Urban Threads. Created by illustrator Niamh O’Connor, Urban Threads is revolutionizing machine embroidery one edgy, elegant, innovative, and/or offbeat design at a time. Discover the future of digital stitchery at www.urbanthreads.com.

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Mr X