15-469A/869K: Algorithmic Textiles Design (Spring, 2019)

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30-11:50 in GHC 4101.

Instructor: Jim McCann. Office hours in Smith 229 by appointment.
Help also available in Wean 1334 during Knitout Office Hours (most Thursday evenings at [around] 5-6:30pm, sign up for mailing list).
Class Piazza: http://piazza.com/cmu/spring2019/15869k.


Textile artifacts are -- quite literally -- all around us; from clothing to carpets to car seats. These items are often produced by sophisticated, computer-controlled fabrication machinery. In this course we will discuss everywhere code touches textiles fabrication, including design tools, simulators, and machine control languages. Students will work on a series of multi-week, open-ended projects, where they use code to create patterns for modern sewing/embroidery, weaving, and knitting machines; and then fabricate these patterns in the textiles lab. Students in the 800-level version of the course will additionally be required to create a final project that develops a new algorithm, device, or technique in textiles fabrication.

Other versions: this course will also appear in Spring 2020.


Familiarity with at least one programming language.


Students will be graded out of 36 (54 for 15-869K) points, divided as follows:

6·1In-Class Exercises
3·10Topical Projects
16Final Project (15-869K only)


This schedule is perpetually prone to adjustment.

01/15/2019 Textiles lab overview Algorithms and fabrication Generate a 20x16 low-ASCII Square
01/17/2019 Textiles lab tour Make an interesting line
Flat Sewing
01/22/2019 interesting line mini-crit Sewing Intro Cut-and-sew, Embroidery, Quilting How Machines Sew Hand sewing (like a machine) Bonus: (the secret life of) sewing machines Homework: link an inspiring flat-sewing project
01/24/2019 CNC Sewing Our Embroidery and Quilting Machines Data formats project idea discussion
Sewing Project (01/24/2019 - 02/07/2019)
01/29/2019 Guest Lecture: single-line pattern generation Interfaces for single-line patterns and embroidery design
01/31/2019 Class cancelled (polar vortex)
02/05/2019 Guest Lecture: changing material properties with embroidery Future directions
02/07/2019 Sewing Project Crit
02/12/2019 Weaving Hand Weaving With Paper
02/14/2019 Project Brainstorming
Weaving Project (02/14/2019 - 02/28/2019)
02/19/2019 Intro to the Jacq3G library
02/21/2019 Guest lecture: drafting, double cloth Weave with our loom
02/26/2019 Research: 3D Weaving Research: Yarn-Level Woven Cloth Simulation (video) Research: Improving the Loom
02/28/2019 Weaving Project Crit
03/05/2019 Knitting Basic Knitout Operations Hand Knitting Machines
03/07/2019 Guest Lecture (Lea Albaugh): Big ideas in Machine Knitting Spring break puzzles: knit/purl on tube; four layers of fabric
Knitting Project (03/07/2019 - 03/28/2019)
03/12/2019 Spring Break; no class.
03/14/2019 Spring Break; no class.
03/19/2019 2/3rds Gauge
03/26/2019 Dependencies and Slack Stitch Scheduling
03/28/2019 Project Brainstorming
04/02/2019 Tube Layouts and Gauge Mappings
04/04/2019 Research: Knitting simulation
04/09/2019 Work Time In Wean 1334
04/11/2019 Carnival; no class.
04/16/2019 Knitting Project Crit
Remainder of Class
Final Project for 15-869K students (04/18/2019 - 05/02/2019)
04/18/2019 Project Brainstorming
04/23/2019 Knitting Puzzles Work Time
04/25/2019 Autograding (for clothing) Work Time
04/30/2019 CT Scans and Rendering (cloth, yarn) Work Time
05/02/2019 Final Project Crit