Introduction: Embroidered Buckminster Fuller Map
My favorite maps are those that make you think differently about where you are in the world and how all these seemingly disparate places fit together. The Buckminster Fuller dymaxion map is perfect for this! The map not only changes the customary hemispheric divisions of the globe but also shows a linear proximity of all the continents.
So: I decided to create an embroidery pattern for a wooden icosahedron that my partner, Jon, designed and laser cut.
Alternatively, you can make this project without an icosahedron. If you leave the fabric in one piece and space the triangles uniformly, it becomes a frame-ready embroidered fabric map!
I hope you enjoy! To learn about embroidery and find detailed help with getting started, check out Instructables’ own Embroidery Class!
Step 1: Supply List
Linen fabric (or your fabric of choice!)
Printed map design
Black floss (I used DMC, a six-stranded floss)
Icosahedron with Faces
6-in wooden embroidery hoops
Fabri-Tac fabric glue
Cork board and pushpins
Step 2: Tracing
I created the embroidery design by revising an existing Buckminster Fuller dymaxion map. I’m providing my embroidery-ready revision here. Be sure to check that each triangle’s sides are just under 3.5 inches. You never know what a computer will do with a file’s format.
Using your light tablet or light box and a dark marker with a thin tip, trace the provided embroidery design onto paper. Because you will be using these to trace again onto the actual fabric (that time with your water soluble marker), it doesn’t matter here how far apart you place your triangles.
You can also use a window or your computer screen to trace, which is what I used to do, before learning from the Instructables’ Embroidery Class about how affordable and handy the linked light tablet is.
Step 3: Preparing Fabric for Embroidery
Before embroidering any fabric or cutting it to size, it’s good practice to wash the fabric once with laundry soap and dry the fabric completely. The fabric may shrink after the first wash, so washing it once before stitching minimizes the risk of warping your fabric later and ruining your project. Once the fabric is dry, iron it.
Now you’re ready to go!
For this Instructables, I cut the fabric with pinking shears (to minimize fraying at the fabric’s edges) into twenty squares just big enough to fit a 6-inch embroidery hoop. Alternatively, to conserve fabric, you can leave the fabric in one piece and simply move your embroidery hoop around. Just make sure there is a one-inch frame around each triangle for gluing onto the faces of the icosahedron.
If you’re making this a framed fabric map version in one piece, space the triangles as you like. I would suggest spacing them like the original paper map so you get the full effect.
Place the paper traces onto your light source of choice and place the fabric onto the paper. Trace the pattern onto the fabric using your water soluble pen. Repeat with the other triangles. For the two blank triangles, I traced a border for consistency.
Step 4: Embroidering
Center your first triangle in the embroidery hoop. The Instructables Embroidery Course has detailed instructions on how to do this in case you struggle at first. It can be difficult to feel comfortable with the tautness of the fabric, but a few tries will do the trick!
Cut about 15 inches of the black DMC embroidery floss (or any brand or color of your choice). Using 2 strands of the 6-stranded floss, stitch all the lines of your tracing. The stitches generally shouldn’t be longer than 1/8 of an inch.
After you finish embroidering, wash the individual triangles to remove the water soluble pen marks – unless you, like me in this case, didn’t mind the blue outline mingling with the black stitches. Then pin the triangles using bobby pins. Iron again if necessary. (I like to cover the stitched fabric with a thin fabric while ironing for extra sensitivity.)
Step 5: Attaching Fabric to Triangles
Cut a larger triangle around each triangle, making sure to have a 1-inch frame. I made these cuts with pinking shears again, for that extra safety to prevent frayed edges.
Using Fabri-Tac glue, glue the sides of the fabric onto the back of the wooden triangular face of the icosahedron.
Step 6: Cutting and Assembling Icosahedron
The icosahedron is made of 30 2-inch edges, 20 3.5-inch triangular faces, and 12 vertices. We designed the icosahedron with 3/16" thick wood so that the edges and vertices lock in together to form a dihedral angle between the faces of 138.19°. For more info, on the geometry of icosahedrons, check out this link and this calculator.
After designing the edges, faces, and vertices in Corel Draw, I cut 3/16" thick wood with a laser cutter. Attached are the Corel Draw file and .pdf for laser cutting the icosahedron. The file includes two sets of vertices and edges and one set of faces. It is also possible to cut the wood by hand, but it may be challenging with the small joints. You might also try this project with a hard cardboard! If you want to use wood and don't have a lasercutter, then the parts are available on my Etsy linked in the last step.
To ensure your icosahedron comes together snugly, make sure the edges touch when locking into the vertex (see picture). You may also need to use super glue.
Step 7: Attaching Velcro
The Velcro will be placed both on the icosahedron and the triangular faces. It doesn’t matter whether you put the hook side on the icosahedron and the loop on the faces, or vice versa. I would just be consistent throughout.
I used a strip that was 1/8 inch wide and 1/4 inch long for each edge of the faces. For the edges of the icosahedron, I used a 1/4-inch square that hugs each edge to ensure the Velcro on the faces would have contact regardless of any funky angles.
Step 8: Completing the Map
Prepare yourself for a puzzle! Hope you enjoyed this project :)
We have all the parts available in our dymaxion map kit here at our Etsy shop “OneBitKit.”