How-To: Fractal Kutch Embroidery

In our kraftivision video blog, we recently featured a youtube video that showed the creation of fractal embroidery in traditional Indian handicraft.

Mathmatical Background

The pattern created in the video is a box fractal, sometimes also referred to as Visek snowflake after Tamás Vicsek who used it to demonstrate fractal growth in his book “Fractal Growth Phenomena”.

The outline of the Visek snowflake can be obtained from a quadratic version of the Koch Snowflake, using 90°, rather than 60° turns. It can be generated by a simple Lindenmayer-system:

start: F-F-F-F
rules: (F → F-F+F+F-F)
angle: 90°

Rather than tracing the outline, we would like to create a path that shows the curly behaviour with threads crossing, like demonstrated in the youtube video. This can be achieved by using a different set of rules:

start: A-A-A-A
rules: (A → -B+BAB+B-), (B → +A-ABA-A+)
angle: 90°

Generating the Pattern

To create the embroidery pattern you can use Inkscape which comes fully equipped with a Lindenmeyer-plugin. It is accessible via the Render-Section of The Effects Menu.

Generating the Curve

The plugin currently requires you to set both left and right angle to 270° rather than 90°, so that ”-” actually means turn right and ”+” means turn left.

If you like to play around with the production rules:

  • Letters A to F : walk one step forward
  • Letters G to L : jump one step forward without leaving a trace.
  • Rules have to be seperated by a semicolon.

Note that the plugin expects you to provide the stepsize in pixels. If you need a specific stitch size in the final embroidery, you will need to calculate the necessary amount of pixels (dots), using Inkscapes default screen resolution of 90 dpi.

stepsize = 90 dpi * stitchsize (in inch)

Enter the values and press apply. Note that curves for iteration values greater than 3 may result in noticable delays. In this case you shouldn't use live preview since that may freeze Inkscape.

Labeling the Stitches

To visualize the actual path of embroidery, you can modify the contour properties of the path. Simply select a small arrow as marker for intermediate parts of the contour.

Crafting the Curve

If you just want to create the fractal textile, simply download the pattern given below.


Download the pattern as PDF:

Step by Step

  • Stitch as indicated by the curly black curve until until the point labeled 64 - you have now finished the first quarter.
  • Turn your work by 90°, but keep the pattern in place. You can now finish the second quarter by following the curly black curve again.
  • Keep going until you have finished all four quarters.

Things to Try

Embroidered Antenna

If you are into wearable computing and e-textiles you can use this pattern to embroider a fractal antenna into your pullover so it can receive radio signals ;)

Context Free Embroidery

If you want to create more advanced fractal embroidery patterns, we highly recommend trying out Chris Coyne's “Context Free”.

Context Free is a tool to create fractal graphics based on rules written in a very simple language (CFDG aka context free design grammar).

Fractal Machine Embroidery

Both Inkscape and Context Free can export SVG graphics. Try to turn those graphics into stitch files for machine embroidery.

Web Links


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howto/fractal_kutch_embroidery.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/03 05:04 by magisterludi
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