In 1993, I bought my current sewing machine, a Bernina 1630. While I loved my old 930 model by the same company, I decided to buy the newer computerized version because it had a design program that could be purchased to go with it. This computer program, “Bernina Designer 1.0”, allowed you to draw something on your computer, and then send it over to the machine which would then sew it. The design motifs were vector created, in that you moved the cursor, clicked to establish a point, moved the cursor in a new direction and clicked again, which established a new point. Those two points were then connected by a line. If the spaces between points were small, you could make curves. If the distances between points were long, you could have more linear motifs. You could then save the shapes in your computer to use again at will. I chose to give each one names rather than numbers. In the photo above, you can see some of the shapes I created on the right, and the names I gave them, and then on the left, a design I made by incorporating each of the shapes and overlapping them. Names for some of the designs in this sample included “Spike Star” and “Swirl Star”. Later on, as I did more samples, I needed to come up with categories of stars, flowers, and other motifs to organize all of the designs I was creating.
In this practice experiment of a forest scene on the left, you can see how it was composed using some of the saved motifs from the sample above and some new ones i had created for these sample. I love the “Grass Shield” motif in the first sample that looks like a little blue bird flying along the sides, while when stitched in green thread, makes a grassy forest floor in this sample. I also liked the way this second forest sample shown above, when stretched out, makes the “trees” in this scene. The program was a lot of fun to play with as you could play with the height and width that was stitched to get more variety in the designs that were created.
“Pink Swirls” (10.25″ x 8″ or 26 cm x 20.5cm) is a sample in which I used free-form applique to fasten down an assortment of fabrics and ribbons, and then added some of the design motifs I had generated in the computer program on top of the fabrics. I then added on some buttons, and beads to further embellish the surface treatment. I especially like the pink spiraling swirl motif (hence the name) with its pink finger-like projections at the end. To me, it could be a spiral in a galaxy or an undersea creature with nebulous tentacles ready to swim through the water or capture some lunch.
I recently pulled out the computer program, hoping to recover some of the design elements, but the 1630 sewing machine is designed with a serial port while the computer I have now has USB ports. I bought a cable that would adapt the two connections, but then realized that the discs from the old, design program were floppies. I paid to have someone convert them to CDs, but then was disappointed to find that the old Bernina Designer 1.0 program isn’t supported on Windows 7. Having called my local Bernina distributor, I was told that there isn’t anyway to get those motifs back. Fortunately, I can still use the programmed stitches that are on my Bernina 1630 machine. In this close-up of “In the Field of Lost Bytes”, an art quilt that I wrote about back in November, 2011, you can see lines made of dark bars from a programmed stitch that comes with the machine. In between the lines, (you have to look closely in the middle part of this detail photo) are programmed “0s” and 1s”, to simulate a binary code, as this quilt was supposed to be about lost data that I had sent out over the Internet, only to be lost. I humorously imagined that the bits and bytes were buried somewhere out in an etheric field, laid down in layers, much as artifacts are covered up in sediment. It would be quite a feat to interpret my message, as I don’t know binary code, but I can imagine that there are quite a few swear words as my carefully written postings, that I had labored over, were sent out, but not received.
Working with the needle on a sewing machine as a “pencil” is great, good fun. I wish that my I could access my old designs, as I wanted to use them as filler in backgrounds on my art quilts. However, I would need to buy a separate machine in order to be able to generate my own designs. That purchase will have to wait until I get another grant or sell a alot more art work. In the meantime, I’ve been practicing with free motion thread embroidery on my 1630 and will be posting about it soon.
Have you experimented with machine emboridery computer programs? What was your experience like?
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You can see more of my art work on my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com