Editor's note: Scott Smith recently took the new multi-part CNC Machine Embroidery signoff class offered in our Crafter's Cove area. The class covers Hatch, a software program that converts graphics and text to stitches that can be embroidered, as well as Nova Labs' PFAFF home embroidery machines and Happy 12-color industrial embroidery machine. Look for AC_S_P: CNC Machine Embroidery Sign Off on the Nova Labs class portal.
I purchased plans and supplies enough to make two of Adam Savage’s EDC One bag a while ago. For the most part I made them in tandem, but when it came time for final assembly, I decided to finish one and use it for a while. I could then make modifications if desired to the second bag. One of the changes on the second one was a personalization change I wanted to do. There is an older Joss Whedon show called Firefly that has a unique ship called Serenity; I wanted to put a custom embroidered patch onto my bag to add some personality.
Unfortunately, right around the time I was ready to learn how to make the patch, the quarantine hit and I was unable to learn the embroidery machines. I added myself to the sign-off class waitlist and eventually the class came through. I just finished the series of three classes in mid-March, and I’ve already spent many hours in front of both the Happy and the PFAFF machines.
The course was pretty intense. There’s a lot to learn regarding the embroidery machines, and we didn’t go through everything the machines are capable of. The first day of the class focused on how embroidery works, what software we’re using, and the various tools and supplies we’d need to use (stabilizer, hoops, threads, etc.) Day two was mostly focused on the digitizing software, Hatch. We learned how to import designs, select colors, add text, and export the file formats necessary for the machines. We also practiced hooping some fabric so we’d know how to get the tension right. The third day we actually sat with both machines. We learned how to thread them, how to turn them on, and how to sew a pattern with both machines. The day culminated with us making some dishtowels with a pre-made design on them.
This was an amazing experience, and I immediately started working on my own pattern. I actually came into Nova Labs between class two and three to try digitizing my own pattern (turning an image into an embroidery pattern). Digitizing images wasn’t really taught in the class, since it’s its own discussion (and a separate class to learn more). I had to spend some time learning how to convert an image I found on the internet into an actual digitized pattern, then add things like text and a border to it. The design I came up with is still a work in progress; I’ve created several and given them away, but I’m still working on the final design for my own patch, iterating over changes and additions. I did, however, already get commissioned by my parents: they own an HVAC business, and they are going to have me embroider shirts for their employees.
I’m super glad I took the class, but there’s still so much to learn. I’ve got the basics, but it will take time to gain proficiency. It’s fun learning the machine and creating new things!
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