AutoFill is the default method for generating fill stitching. To use it, create a closed path in Inskcape and add a fill color. This algorithm works for complex shapes with or without holes.
ink/stitch will break the shape up into sections that it can embroider at once using back-and-forth rows of stitches. It then adds straight-stitching between sections until it’s filled in the entire design. The staggered pattern of stitches is continued seamlessly between sections, so the end result doesn’t appear to have any breaks. When moving from one section to the next, it generates running stitching along the border of the shape.
Using the Params extension, you can set these parameters:
- angle: The angle of the rows of stitches, in degrees. 0 is horizontal, and the angle increases in a counter-clockwise direction. Negative angles are allowed.
- row spacing: distance between rows of stitches
- maximum stitch length: the length of each stitch in a row. “Max” is because a shorter stitch may be used at the start or end of a row.
- running stitch length: length of stitches around the outline of the fill region used when moving from section to section
- staggers: stitches are staggered so that neighboring rows of stitches don’t all fall in the same column (which would create a distracting valley effect). Setting this dictates how many rows apart the stitches will be before they fall in the same column position.
By default, AutoFill will cover the shape with one layer of stitches. In almost all cases, this won’t look any good. The individual stitches will sink into the fabric (even if it’s thin) and the fill will appear sparse. The fabric may even stick up between rows.
To solve this, you need underlay: an initial layer of stitches that hold up the final stitches. Underlay for fill stitch it’s usually comprised of fill stitching 90 degrees offset from the final fill (called “top stitching”). The row spacing should be much wider than in the top stitching. The goal is to flatten out the fabric and give the top stitches “rails” to sit on.
In Params, you’ll see an underlay tab next to the AutoFill tab. Enable it by checking the box. The default settings should be good enough for most cases: 90 degrees offset and row spacing 3x the spacing of the top stitching.
Fill underlay inset
Manual Fill is the old mode from before I figured out how to implement automatic fill routing. In some cases, AutoFill may not be an option, such as when the running stitches between sections are not acceptable for your design. Usually, fill region edges are covered over by satin, but not always.
In manual fill, the extension will still break up the shape into sections, each of which can be embroidered in one go. Then these sections will be fill-stitched one at a time, jumping directly between sections. You’ll almost certainly want to break your shape up into smaller shapes and connect then using running stitches (described below). It’s a painstaking process, made moreso because you’ll need to do it twice: once for the underlay and again for the top stitching.
The flip option can help you with routing your stitch path. When you enable flip, stitching goes from right-to-left instead of left-to-right. Using flip and rotating 180 additional degrees (by adding or subtracting 180 from angle), you can cause fill stitching for a given shape to start from any of the four possible corners.