Stitch In Time is a collaborative project between Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick and local primary schools for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.
On Tuesday 1 June 2021 we hosted one of the very first events for Resonate Festival, 'Stitch in Time' at Herbert Art Gallery museum for the Month of Invention, coordinated by the Innovative Manufacturing and Future Materials GRP. The aim of this event was to inspire primary school children and their families from the local community about the history of Coventry's textiles, linking this to modern day technology and programming skills that are really important for children to learn.
Helen Luckhurst, from WMG, said:
"Stitch in time is a name we're using to describe a few different ways of introducing children to programming and control for embroidery. So we take inspiration from Coventry's history and we use that to deliver programming workshops by hosting events at the museum, on campus and as part of a longer term project with schools. So over the coming years, teachers have the opportunity to use our resources, get training with us and deliver new content to their children where they can learn about Coventry's history and skills in programming and control which they can bring together to make a creative piece of work, inspired by City of Culture and their history."
Children are using a programme called TurtleStitch which is a block based language where they can take simple instructions and join these colourful blocks together like a jigsaw in any order they choose. This will then control a little turtle that moves around and draws patterns based on the instructions given by the programmer. These patterns can then be downloaded and used on an embroidery machine which will then stitch that very pattern onto fabric.
"One of the fun things to get children to do when using TurtleStitch is to look at their own school uniforms, because often they find that they already have a piece of designed embroidery that's been done by a machine on their clothing."
Professor Margaret Low, Director of Outreach and Widening Participation at WMG, said:
"In primary school children are often taught a language called Logo, and that's been around since the 60s to control robots. So you can tell a robot to move forward 30 steps, turn 90 degrees, so many children have already come across this software before. But what I love about TurtleStitch is that it picks up on those skills that young people have come across and it takes it in to a physical medium, so it's not just controlling a robot, it's controlling the embroidery machine which is a robot to actually produce something."