Introduction: Oh Sew Stylish - IPod Control in a Bag's Handle

Picture of Oh Sew Stylish - IPod Control in a Bag's Handle

We recently introduced the Magic Dock connector for iPod and iPhone which allows you to quickly and easily control your music player with just two soft, eTextile buttons.

We posted this Instructable on how to make a cute cat accessory using conductive yarn. Please see that I'ble for a discussion on our approach to practical eTextiles you would actually use everyday.

Continuing our theme of making truly useful & wearable (i.e. not prototype) interactive craft, we turn a fashionable baby bag into a functional remote control for your iPod & iPhone.
Now you can change tracks and volume by squeezing the handles. No more fumbling for the iPod to pause when you meet someone. 

Oh, what's a baby bag? Mona said: "They're just big enough to use as an evening bag - you can fit your lipstick, cell phone, money, credit cards and maybe another thing or two. It can fit on your wrist for dancing, a night on the town, or weddings."

We hope this project inspires the eTextile community to continue to reflect on how we can seamlessly blend simple controls into our fashionable lifestyles without looking gaudy.

When the bag is done, the handle will have two soft buttons:
- Play/Pause: Single click
- Next/Previous Track: Double click 
- Next/Previous Album: Triple click
- Volume Up/Down: Press and hold

It works with any iPod or iPhone with a dock connector.

The bag is from Mona Lucero Design Boutique, absolutely fab couture.
Magic dock connector, conductive fabrics, yarn & thread available at the Aniomagic store.


Step 1: Conductive Fabric & Preparation

Picture of Conductive Fabric & Preparation

Like in the previous I'ble, we use two types of conductive fabric for this project:

- Zelt conductive fabric; it's very conductive, and is used for the Forward/Volume UP actions.   
- Velostat resistive sheet; not so conductive, and is used for the Back/Volume DOWN actions.

Hint to eTextilers: building a simple series circuit with these materials allow you to sense which of multiple buttons are pressed. Different combinations of high and low conductivity materials will yield measurable differences in resistance. However, instead of multiple connections, you only need two, which simplifies building and routing.


Sadly, you'll need to open up the handle for the project... we do put it together neatly again, so all is not lost :-> 

Open just the length you'll need.
Cut 4 pieces of conductive fabric into small 1-inch squares and fold them to fit into the creases in the handle. Since a folded piece has a little more bulk than a flat piece, you wouldn't need too much pressure to activate the buttons.

Step 2: Sewing

Picture of Sewing
Arrange the four conductive pieces so that you have enough spacing on the handle. Start at the darker material (velostat), then the light-gray (zelt). Leave about 1 foot of conductive thread after sewing each pair for attaching to the Magic Dock.

Use these sewn pieces as a guide for where to cut the holes in the handle. You'll need four small holes.

Experiment with the right size holes in the fabric:
    - too small requires a hard squeeze
    - too large and the remote may turn on even when you don't press it.

Tuck the first pair into the upper handle crease.

Step 3: Feeding Through

Picture of Feeding Through

With a large needle, feed the conductive thread down one side of the handle, coming through only when you reach the inside of the bag.

Now stuff the second pair of conductive fabric into the lower handle crease, making sure they don't touch the upper pair. Feed the conductive thread through the handle as before.

When you come through, make sure the two lengths of thread are not touching.
Test with a multimeter if you have one, (an LED with a battery will suffice in a pinch).

Step 4: Fabric Bias Tube

Picture of Fabric Bias Tube
You need about 8" of thread leading to the dock so it's more convenient to plug in your iPod. Use a simple fabric bias tube for a stylish way of insulating the thread. 

Textile enchantress Lyne Bruning shows how to make a bias tube in this Instructable.

You should also sew the end of the tube to the bag's lining to make it more robust.

Step 5: Dock & Final Assembly

Picture of Dock & Final Assembly
The magic dock connector comes in 7 pieces: 3 metal and 4 plastic.

Use a needle to loop through each hole on the dock connector. It doesn't matter which thread goes to which hole.

Tie a double knot to secure the conductive thread, and leave some excess tot uck back into the tube to avoid fray thread.

Before finishing the assembly, follow these pre-test and mid-test procedures.

When you're sure that everything works, apply a little glue or epoxy to the top and bottom plastic pieces.



Step 6: Rock Fabulous

Picture of Rock Fabulous

You're pretty much ready to roll.
Connect your iPod, and squeeze the handle.
Now you can leave iPod in the bag, even when you want to pause or change tracks!

This is the effect we strive for in our approach to eTextiles: practical and oh so stylish.

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