Why engine 18? Simply because this is the 18th version of the design, modifying and tweaking the stitches in Embird (embroidery software) to get the result I am after. Some of the earlier versions have been partly stitched out, most have not but I like to keep all the stages as a record. Think of it as being the equivalent of a series of sketches before the final drawing is made into a screenprint. Actually, I am finding it increasingly useful to think of using the embroidery machine as a way of printmaking and using some of the same techniques of layering and deconstructing or masking off parts.
I found in my experiments with Embird that I can break down the design and leave the machine stitching only the underlay (which is intended to stabilise the fabric ready for the filling stitches). Randomly removing parts before transferring the design to the machine means I can make a series of similar but not identical pieces, or a limited edition of fragments. This still leaves the option of stopping the machine while it is stitching and skipping or repeating parts on the fly.
So – the fabric arrived from Spoonflower last week and I have cracked on with the first version. To give you an idea of the scales, here are the two pieces together, the smaller is a fat quarter and the larger is one yard with the same print but bigger (and so more pixellated/broken up). You can see them more clearly (and buy some if you like) on my page on the Spoonflower site.
And here is the work in progress on the fat quarter, with the background grid complete and about half of the engine stitched out.
As I work, I am thinking about the next version – in view of the size, I think I will have less empty space at the bottom but have not decided quite how.