cut work


Leftovers as Sculpture?

Fiberella Fantasy Feathers for Spring!

Raw Edge Silk Leaf Pillow

Shimmering texture is fun to create, most especially because
my sewing machine cut out all of the silk leaves for me
...while I played with something else in the studio!

My first project using CutWork is very simple and so much fun-to-do!
And I still have another 100+ leaves all cut, ready to create with. It will be
fun to try out the same leaf colors stitched to a different color base fabric.


The CutWork tool is a BERNINA exclusive. Used together with my embroidery software and like magic, the CutWork tool cuts my own specified fabric shapes automatically. This maximizes my creative time in the studio, minimizing time needed for certain repetitive tasks that I would generally seek to avoid. More time for the fun stuff!


If raw edge isn't your preference, there are plenty of ways to applique.
This time however, I thought it would just be fun to allow silk leaves to fray over time,
like real ones in the forest or on a stream.

This is THE most "hugged" pillow in my living room/library. Everyone wants to squish and squeeze and touch it ...and I'm glad it affects everyone that way. No worries! I discard threads as they shed, and enJOY spectating as my pillow's silk threads simply float away...

Actually, I really was thinking about a deep blue river with leaves floating by as I stitched. What a nice daydream it was. Using my BERNINA 830, it was easy to "record" or program a specific number of desired straight stitches before an automatic tie-off. With the tie-on function also engaged, all I had to do was imagine leaves floating along, playfully adding one color to overlap another. When I stepped on the sewing machine pedal the machine sews out the appropriate length for the majority* of my machine-cut silk leaves.

This is a corner of how my leaves looked inside the Jumbo Hoop.
*See how there's a minority of medium-sized and little leaves to use up silk along the "corners" of this nice large oval-shaped hoop? A scale change adds a nice illusion of depth whenever you are repeating a motif.

To see and hear the CutWork in action, have a look and a listen! Here you'll notice hoop movements allow the BERNINA CutWork tool to make similarly-angled cuts during one of its four simple cutting stages.

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Below is how it looked inside the CutWork software.


What relaxing and colorful fun a project like this is! If you decide to dive in, here are some tips:

Whether cutting by hand or using CutWork, be sure to place a firm tear-away stabilizer underneath your base fabric. Keep it there while playing with color arrangement and stitching all of your leaves in place.

And if you're using CutWork with embroidery software, you can note my basic sequence below. I encourage you to take online webinars from the outstanding educators at BERNINA to familiarize yourself with the software.

My Basic Sequence:

I first created an embroidery file with enough simple leaf shapes to fill the BERNINA Jumbo Hoop.
I saved my embroidery design as an EXP file (so the CutWork software could read it).
Then I opened the file in CutWork software as follows: opt to create a "new" cutwork file, retrieving the art from an "embroidery file." Browse to the file and open it.

Using the CutWork software to create the .DRAW file, I made sure to stitch once around the outside of the hoop, and around each of the individual leaves (calling it an outside outline in the software and saving the inside shapes). My plan was then to cut out all of the leaves at once.

I hooped seven layers of doupioni silk in the Jumbo Hoop (just love to test the limits :-)
Then my sewing machine (or "sewing computer") cut out the leaves for me. Splendid!

I only had to make a couple of little snips where the leaves didn't cut all the way through. I was so bad, I didn't even use a stabilizer or starch my fabric this first time around. Just dove right in!
I have since found OESD's StabilStick is a particularly useful stabilizer in CutWork.



Sculptural Material from CutWork... a discovery!

I've been having a fine adventure playing with my CutWork tool. When I started out, I just wanted to "make-it-go." It was actually easier than I thought. Using BERNINA tutorials that came with the CutWork tool as a guide, and having attended a BERNINA CutWork webinar, I decided to strike out on my own. Since I was comfortable creating basic shapes in software, interested in finding out how many layers of silk I could cut at once and because I like leaves, my ideas was: cut leaves to attach to a pillow. It's a simple, but a personal beginning adventure using CutWork.

Then something REALLY interesting happened along the way...


While I was having fun playing-in-the-leaves, I noticed something. What caught my eye was the empty tube (shown in the upper left corner of my PowerPoint slide above). I admit to immediately admiring this "leftover" as-much-if-not-more-than the leaves themselves. It intrigues me: the weight of it, the way it feels in my hands and how it drapes. As an admitted textile-material squirrel, I naturally resolved to find a way to use ALL parts in a single CutWork hooping. Zero waste, of time and material, when using CutWork. That's one of my quests anyway.

Had I known I would like the "leftover" as much as I do, I'd have used black thread (instead of white) to outline/stabilize all the leaves before cutting. It was an unexpected fun discovery ...out of my periphery. I was so focused on the leaves that I wasn't thinking at all about the empty space as a shape. Since the BERNINA CutWork software asks you which part you are going to save as your cut motif, the inside or the outside, I've learned to answer that question but still plan to use both: the "positive" and the "negative" shapes. I no longer miss thinking about that empty shape too.

So all the while I was enJOYing attaching leaves for the pillow above, (so relaxing using a pre-programmed tie on - specify number of stitches in a sequence to match the leaves - and auto tie off at the touch of a button)... my mind kept drifting back to the intriguing "leftover" and how much I liked it.

Eventually I wondered ...how would I use it? How could I use it? The mulling and simmering necessary to the creative process takes me a while. Somewhere it's at work, resolving the issue on the "back burner" of my mind. What I knew for sure initially, was just to trust my instincts. That there must be a way to use this sort of structure in sculptural items, because I like it so much. Hmmmmmmm. No doubt there's more adventure ahead. I'm going to dive into a small sequence of experiments, with a goal in mind: sculpture. I'll keep you updated!


Fiberella Fantasy Feathers

Below I'm using multiple layers of sheers held together with CutWork stitching. The accessory cuts them out for me too. I'm fascinated with the idea of making my own small, dimensional and unusual trims for personalizing my textile art. I would never ever have the patience to create an abundance of tiny ornaments individually, but would love the CutWork accessory to create lots of little ornaments for me. The tiny experiments below indicate my day dreaming about little leaves and baby bird feathers. I'm guessing cabin fever was kicking in, but spring is on the horizon. Bird songs are heralding the new season where I live.


Oh, and there's still that empty piece I'm thinking about. What kind of strange lace is that? How would I reshape it? I'm working on it, and wishing everyone a creative springtime in your studio!


The CutWork tool is a BERNINA exclusive tool, that can be used together with in-the-hoop needlepunch and embroidery, offering the possibility of many more creative adventures ahead!