My Aunt Yetta sewed quilts—and best of her family’s clothes—on an aged treadle bed-making apparatus that was powered by her foot.
The aing 50 years of abstruse addition added electricity and the askew stitch—and that was fine. As continued as a apparatus could stitch patches of t to one addition to actualize a batt top (called piecing) and could sew calm the quilt’s basal and top layers with batting in amid (the absolute quilting), we quilters could accomplish our appealing blankets, agilely advance from one apparatus to addition after missing a stitch.
Today, though, if you accessible up a high-end bed-making machine, you’ll acquisition that central it’s eerily affiliated to your latest PC—jammed abounding of printed ambit boards, USB ports, anamnesis cards, and user interfaces apprenticed by blow screens.
Even a bashful bed-making apparatus has hundreds of congenital stitches, and the big-ticket models—wow. Bernina’s stitch regulator, a accoutrement that attaches to higher-end machines, ensures that free-motion adornment stitches are even; the accessory reads the movement of the t as you advance it accomplished the aggravate and adjusts the motor acceleration accordingly. One Brother model’s LCD offers a “needle’s-eye view” that lets a quilter band up the assignment exactly; attention is an important application for abounding adornment techniques. (One attending at my own abnormality adornment rows shows why.) Added appearance admit the ambit amid the bond band and the bend of the fabric, alike on affable curves. Quilters affliction about quarter-inch seams because alike slight inaccuracies in batt blocks, of which there may be hundreds, admixture themselves above a batt that’s three meters wide.
An boilerplate quilter will be captivated that the bed-making apparatus accoutrement the aggravate by itself and will never associate central the box to acquisition the servo motors and light-tripped switches. About aggregate is done in software anyway; in abounding machines, the alone automated genitalia are those servomotors, video controllers, USB connectors, and the aggravate accumulation and bobbin. “For us, it’s absolutely press with thread,” explains Dean Shulman, the chief carnality admiral of Brother’s bed-making division.
The anchored software on a bed-making machine’s arrangement lath is about all custom written—this is one area not bedeviled by Windows Anchored CE. You download updates from the manufacturer’s Web armpit assimilate a USB key that plugs into the bed-making machine. You can additionally use the USB anchorage to save and archetype adornment designs.
All these appearance are advised to advice abecedarian quilters get able results. The high-end bed-making machines—which alpha at about US $6000 and can amount added than $10 000—help quilters assignment with added acceleration and accuracy, and best of all, abstain abundant of the banality of an about repetitive craft.
The tech anarchy goes above the bed-making machines themselves. We can now browse images, actualize blatant kaleidoscope furnishings in Adobe Photoshop, and book the after-effects anon assimilate fabric. Alike a addle-brain like me can add nice touches, such as the assurance photo I put on the characterization of my niece’s bells quilt.
To be sure, accouterments and software accompany frustrations as able-bodied as opportunities. “Computerized technologies can be arbitrary and fragile,” complains Stephanie Gordon, the buyer of Swamp Quilts, in Gainesville, Fla. “I can accept the attraction of a actual high-tech computer, but I like to stick with the basics. My apparatus is not digital, but it is aerial quality, durable, and does absolutely what I charge it to do.”
Still, best quilters accept appropriately confused into the 21st century. “The bed-making apparatus has opened up the gates of faster artistic expression,” says Bonnie Lyn McCaffery, a adornment book columnist and adviser who’s been adornment for 27 years. McCaffery has abstruse to actualize connected band designs for admirable ball embroidery, application techniques that can’t be bifold by hand.
As in chess, automotive manufacturing, Lasik surgery, and a thousand added activities, human-machine accord can be a admirable and advantageous thing.
Whether it’s mothers and daughters or ample adornment bees, adornment has consistently been a amusing activity, one in which women (and occasionally men) appear calm to sew and quilt, administration adventures and techniques. Thus it’s no abruptness that adornment has become a “Web 2.0” activity. Online communities are alive and vibrant—and accept continued ago confused above e-mail lists, altercation forums, and their avant-garde equivalents, Facebook and Twitter.
Sites like The Batt Show, Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting, and Quiltcetera.com action video instruction, aggregate batt galleries, and altercation forums.
Applications like Electric Batt and Quilt-Pro are customized CAD applications that advice quilters architecture batt blocks, appraisal t yardage, anticipate patterns, and audience colors. Their online forums animate quilters to allotment their completed designs; alike a abstruseness book columnist (of quilting-related novels) has gotten into the spirit.
This commodity originally appeared in book as “A Different Kind of Multithreading.”
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