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Textile Design  ::  Designer Bags  :: Quilts ::  Heirloom Sewing :: Technology

Textile Technology  

Electronic sewing machines, computer design software, printable fabric, and online classes have transformed home sewers into the contemporary "techno-stitcher." The personal computer provides tools that were once found only in the realm of professional needlecraft and clothing designers, but now reside in the modern day sewing room.

electronic sewing machine Electronic Sewing Machines
Electronic machines generate a multitude of stitches by microchip processors or through a connection directly to the personal computer.
Software Screen Shot Computer Design Software
Customized textile patterns for clothing, knitting, quilting and more, can be created with software on a personal computer.
Print Fabric Printable Fabric
Computer images and the inkjet printer combine to create unique and creative fabric.
Online Class

Online Classes & Forums
Computer technology brings a wealth of textile learning opportunities right into the home sewing room.

Electronic Sewing Machines

Sewing machines received a technological overhaul in the 1980s and 1990s with the advent of the electronic sewing machine. Home sewing machines became computerized as indicated by display screens and a multitude of decorative stitches stored in its microchip processor. Manufacturers of electronic and computerized sewing machines include Bernina, Janome, and Elna.

Currently, many models come with a cable that connects the sewing machine to the personal computer, just like another computer peripheral. Special sewing software installed on the computer allows the user to design custom decorative and embroidery stitches. Computer clip art and scanned images from other graphic programs can be used as the foundation for stitch designs. The more advanced computerized embroidery machines allow for multicolored, embroidered satin stitch pictures, which can be revised, stored in the memory of the sewing machine or stored on special memory cards.

A New York Times reporter, Mark Weingarten, in his article written on August 26, 2004, "Needle, Thread and Memory Sticks," noted that high-end computerized machines come with hundreds of preloaded stitches, but enthusiasts insist on downloading more from the Internet, like teenagers surfing for tunes to plug into their MP3 players.

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Computer Design Software

Design possibilities are endless with textile software containing hundreds of pattern options and color swatches. In addition to a printed pattern, software programs calculate the required yardage and provide a supply list.

Wild Ginger Software, Inc. has developed several textile design programs, ranging in skill level from beginner to professional. Their offerings include pattern design for sewing, knitting, crocheting, accessories such as purses and hats, and even pet wear.

Quilters find design software to be the greatest invention since graph paper. The designer can test different patterns and color configurations before cutting into fabric. With the click of a mouse, blocks can be flipped, rotated, recolored, enlarged or reduced. Jinny Beyer's web site offers a simplified online designer called "Launch the Design Board."

Some quilt shows offer very large cash prizes, ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. Many award winning quilters have designed their projects using software programs, such as Electric Quilt. Publicity from the winners has greatly increased usership of quilting software.

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Printable Fabric

Textile technology includes the process of printing fabric right at the home computer printer. Any computer image can be printed onto fabric. This technique lends itself to countless ways to incorporate photos, words and drawings into creative projects.

A printable fabric sheet is a piece of fabric treated with an ink fixative for washability. The fabric is then backed with a sheet of paper or plastic. The backing gives the fabric the necessary rigidity to feed through a printer. These sheets, plus the use of an inkjet printer, provide customized fabric with the click of a mouse. Printed Treasures is one of many online suppliers offering several types of printable fabric products and instruction guidance.

Photographic images are often incorporated into "memory quilts" that commemorate a special birthday or anniversary. Ami Simms has written books and teaches classes on scrapbook quilting and shares her gallery of examples at her web site.

Quilt artists have discovered a new medium of design by combining computer images on fabric with computer graphics software, and have achieved astounding success. Barbara Webster and Caryl Bryer Fallert are two award winners that provide samples of their art on their web sites. An example of Webster's quilting is Blue Ridge Parkway in the Spring. Two examples from Fallert's quilt collection which incorporate photo imaging, include "Splendor in the Grass," and "Hidden Influences #2."

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Online Classes & Forums

Computers unlock a wealth of textile learning opportunities, accessible to many who would be unable to attend traditional classes due to physical limitations, location, and calendar constraints. Textile enthusiasts generously share knowledge in many technological formats, including classes, guilds, forums and web sites. Everything from basic sewing skills, to finding costuming assistance, to meeting a creative community of historic embroiderers can be accessed without leaving home.

Basic sewing skills, ranging from general reference to designer techniques can be found by viewing online videos from the popular television series, Sewing With Nancy. The host, Nancy Zeiman, is also founder of Nancy's Notions, a well established sewing supply company.

Costumes, ranging from fun party wear to historically accurate reproductions, all have a place on the Internet. The Costume Page web site is organized as a directory, with lists of links, compiled on all aspects of costumes. Topics include making costumes, schools specializing in costume design, historic documentation, and sources for supplies.

The West Kingdom's Needleworkers Guild is an organization with members in Northern California, Nevada, Alaska, Japan, Korea and the Pacific Rim. The highly specialized group shares an interest by posting an online guild for the preservation of historic Medieval needle arts. Members and visitors, from throughout the world, can share common interests and acquire new skills in this online environment. As the name implies, the World Wide Web broadens learning opportunities to include participants from around the globe.

The Quilt University provides online lessons, offers a wide variety of classes and after a free introductory class, charges a fee to its users. This online institution has served 50,000 students, in 20,000 classes over a 7 year time period. Classes operate on a scheduled calendar, during which time there is student and teacher interaction online.

Regardless of the specific type of textile arts, the visual nature of the Internet allows textile web surfers to share ideas without the barrier of language. Many free patterns, techniques and inspiration can be provided in the universal language of a photograph or diagram. Yesterday's Charm Embroidery Lessons contains an excellent example of this style of learning.

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Electric Quilt software
Electric Quilt Software
Electronic Sewing Machine
Electronic Sewing Machine

Electronic Sewing Machines

Bernina Sewing Machines

Janome Sewing Machines

Elna Sewing Machines

Computer Design Software

Wild Ginger Software

Jinny Beyer's Design Board

Electric Quilt

Class Quilt
Class Photo Quilt

Printable Fabric

Printed Treasures

Ami Simms

Barbara Webster

Caryl Bryer Fallert
com/ index.html

Lessons Online
Textile Lessons Online

Online Classes

Sewing with Nancy


The West Kingdom's Needleworkers Guild
/wkneedle/ index.html

Quilt University

Yesterday's Charm

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Last revised: October 28, 2012.