I introduced a new class project this past year: textile design! Students used Processing to program designs. Then we printed them using Spoonflower, a custom fabric printing service. Later in the year, Spoonflower launched a new service called Sprout Patterns that lets you print your design onto a sewing pattern (for example, to make a shirt or a bag). Students used this to successfully turn their designs into dopp kits, a dress, and zipper pouches, learning how to use the sewing machine along the way.
A few things I really like about this project: it lets students experiment with color in their designs in a way that they can’t using, say, a laser cutter. It’s quite well suited to “modularizing” parts of a design into functions. It’s great practice with nested loops and conditionals as students figure out how to make different “repeats” across the fabric (a grid, tiled with every other row shifted, radial). And I get to teach them to use the sewing machine, which is a relatively underutilized machine in the shops.
With thanks to Jennifer Jacobs for getting me experimenting with radial patterns after her Generative Design workshop at Adobe last summer and more generally helping me think about how to teach visual pattern design, and to Andrew Kleindolph for his inspiring Number Fog Designs project.
I will write more in depth about my approach to teaching this and the direction student projects took, but here are a few photos of student projects in the meantime:
Elephant Design by Wiley Wadsworth, printed next to her code on a zipper pouch template by Sprout Patterns).
Koi pond dopp kit (anonymous by request):
Music notes pillow by Ryan Yee