How to Make a Cool Cyberpunk Top Using Keyboard Bits





Introduction: How to Make a Cool Cyberpunk Top Using Keyboard Bits

About: A very hairy manchild studying illustration whilst playing around with as many different strange and intersting techniques and still trying to have a good time while i am at it (much to my tutors horror). I ...

Since I found a few keyboards in a skip last year i have been dabbling around with what you can use the parts for (such as my older project and some of the other cool keyboard projects floating around instructables) I'm not *really* obsessed... I just think that you can get a lot of cool stuff out of keyboards. That and they stare at me when i'm working away in my lab (It has comics, art bits, skip findings, nerf guns and mess - essential components that no lab should be without :P)

Anyhoo... theres a terrible student night in wrexham every wednesday - repetitive track list, booozy innebriated frotteurs (its better to not know what that means... trust me) but hey... the drinks are cheap. A select group of art students (ie anyone who has no shame) tend to set their own "theme" for the night - for kicks really, although we do put a lot of effort into it. There have been pirate, pinup, robots/cyberpunk, mermaids (i went as the sea :p) and knights and damesels in distress themed nights and since we are all penniless art students... we have to get a bit creative for the costumes. Anyhoo, tonight is a(nother) cyberpunk night and i'm going to show you how to make this top. (It doesnt help that i've just finished a william gibson and so am all hopped up with cyberlust :p)

PS. machines and tech gubbins make more sense to me than cloth and textiles but its all just the same, the words are different...

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
2 quite close fitting tshirts... The outer one is the one we are going to be attaching the keyboard to and it works wll if this is a dark colour. Likewise the inner one should be a bright colour or contrast in order to show up through the holes and make the circuits visible.
The contact wafer from a computer keyboard - these are several sheets of plastic which the keys touch, making the computer register a keypress. If you can carefully seperate them out we want the two outer ones with the circuit tracings on. You need one of these for each window you want to make.

*WARNING* - non tech bits (ie you might need to borrow/use the aid of a friend who is more or a textile geek than you - cheers again jess!)
Sewing machine - you need one that is more suited to working with leather and possibly with thicker needles in order to get through the plastic. Try out with a test sample first to see if it will work or a splode O_o

Step 2: Placement

Turn your tshirt inside out and then place the circuits where you want them to appear on your top, bearing in mind that it is inside out. When satisfied, pin in place with pins. not hands. Gaffer *could work in a pinch. Make sure that you have the material as flat as possible to prevent unsightly creases and use enough pins so it wont move around when sewing. Also make sure you only pin them to one side of the tshirt. If both layers are pinned then theres more chance that you will sew across the both of them.

Here i opted for three windows that crossed around my body like steps (you cant see the top one but that is pinned to the other side)

Step 3: Sewing

All we are doing is using a simple zigzag stitch around the edges of the board (hands modelled by the lovely jess... i couldnt keep my nails that long O_o).

If you havent used a sewing machine before there are instructables on how tothread a sewing machine. All you then need to do is to line up the run you want stitching (making sure the other parts arent in the way), place the foot down and insert the needle and then start sewing. Dont go too crazy, if you dont fully depress the footpedal then it goes nice and slowly. When you reach a corner, make sure that the needle is down in the fabric, lift up the foot and swing the piece around so you are lined up with your next run. Drop the foot back down (IMPORTANT) and proceed on your merry way. When you come to the end of the rectangle sew forwards and backwards a few times to seal the stitch (we were using a nobby machine that had a button that did this for you) and raise the foot and needle up and cut the thread away. Repeat with all your squares and you are done. yaay!

Step 4: Scissorstab!

With the stitching done all you need to do now is to turn the t shirt right side out and cut away the fabric inside of the stitching. I chose to do this in basic capsule shapes but you could even do words or graphis and things. As this is a very basic version these might frey eventually so the more textiley peeps of you might want to cut and seam these before you put the circuits behind them... but meh.. effort.

Step 5: All Done!

Now put this over you lighter layer and you have a cool top, ready to go out and confuse the locals with . Looking back i think i would have stuck to doing just one panel more at chest/normal tshirt level for best effect but if anything i'm always a bit ambitious.

Other ideas to try might include painting the circuits or the back side of the plastic with uv reactive paint (or wearing a uv top underneath) for extra raver glow when in the clubs or even wiring circuits using the contacts as a base. (yeah i suppose you could keep all the original wiring intact and sew the entire 3 layers of circuit as one panel to have a fully functional keyboard in your chest bt kids these day will do anything for a bit of touch :p) Any feedback/ideas would be awesome. Grin!



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    14 Discussions

    This is a pretty cool idea! I'll have to try it. Any idea of how it holds up in the wash?

    1 reply

     As step four suggests, I would seam the "window" of the outer t-shirt and stitch a backing sheet in place (instead of an inner t-shirt). That way the membrane can be fitted into the window, held in place by the seams and perhaps our good friend Mr Velcro meaning it could be removed when it came wash time.

    Did the night out include similarly themed jewelry?

    such awesomeness with the technological no good with stuff like better with animals and anatomy lol great job and a loverly instructable :)

    Awesome! Maybe if just the design was on it, that would be pretty cool! Like, all over the shirt. Great job.

    1 reply

    you could use the plastic scan matrixes to create a screenprint screen and print the design all over the T.

    I haven't dared wash this beast as it was made just for a night (It'll get worn again at some point). I think if you used a low heat wash cycle with a 'delicates' setting (ie less than 40 degrees C) It should come out without too much damage.

    Coolio! By the way, that button on the sewing machine that you don't know what it does, It reverses the stitch.

    1 reply

    cheers, the strange fact is that i know my way around a knitting machine more than i do a sewing one... odd

    Oh, and I threw away the circuits from the keyboard I took apart for my dissertation. Rubbish.

    If you want extra geek points, I believe the technical name for those circuits is a scan matrix, so if you want to work the word "Matrix" into anything similar you make you'll have a linguistic justification. Also, I believe the term for someone who engages in frottage is a frotteur. Just, y'know, for future reference.

    Anyway, + for creative use of junk electronics and a cool cyberpunk concept.

    1 reply

    cheers for the french correction. Its also a complete art style where you take rubbings of the surface of things using graphite or anything hand (think brass rubbings you used to do in school). Back in college i was getting a bit obsessed about surface textures and spent an entire french exchange taking rubbings of everything... At one point i was making a rubbing of a manhole cover in paris and an old lady asked me what i was doing. If not for the fact that i had pad and graphite stick in hand i might have been taken away by the police. @_@ And i wondered why my french exchange student kept giving me odd looks and calling them "grattage" instead O_o

    you want to see how creative art students can be visit the school on halloween

    ok, I must say this is epic! haha I love instructables that tell me something I would never have thought of!. +1