Introduction: Accelerometer Jacket

About: ThunderLily is a group of artist engineers, founded and led by designer Clare Tattersall – who wanted to prove that high tech and high fashion can make the world a better place. She co-created a software to al…

Designed by ThunderLily for a collaboration with designer Minika Ko for the KOllision runway show, the ac·cel·er·om·e·ter jacket fuses fashion, technology and art.

Using an accelerometer to detect the direction of movement, a flora microprocessor and Neopixels, the jacket is programmed to change color on the X,Y or Z axes.


Flora micro processor

Flora accelerometer

Flora Neopixels

Conductive thread


Woven tape (approximately 1.5 metres)


Model Amanda Sommers

Photo @120photo

Step 1: Sketching

Drawing out your designs provides the first step in iterative design, allowing you — the designer — to brainstorm your ideas on paper and map out how all the different elements will align.

How many lights will you use?

Where will you place the accelerometer and microprocessor?

Step 2: Connecting and Testing the Hardware

First test out your connections with alligator clips before starting to sew.

Connect the Microprocessor to Acclererometer :

GND —> gnd

SCL#3 —> SCL (#3 is the number of the pin)

SDA #2 —> SDA (#2 is the number of the pin)

3.3v —> 3V

Connect the Microprocessor to the Neopixels: VBATT (+ve) — +ve

*GND —> -ve terminal #6 — →

*Connect the ground first, and when disconnecting, disconnect the ground last.

Note that the Neopixels are directional so ensure that the microprocessor connects to the arrow that goes into the neopixel → and the out arrow connects to the next light.

Step 3: Adding the Neopixels

Note when you are choosing your fabric you may need to adapt your techniques. This jacket is designed to demonstrate movement and direction and will be worn by a dancer, so it will be subject to extreme directional movement. Stretch fabric can be a problem when integrating technology into a garment especially when using conductive thread as it can make the connections unstable. To counteract this I used a strip of woven tape that is flexible but not stretchy, then applied this to the jacket.

Eight neopixels seems to be the max that can be effectively sequenced from the microprocessor with a 3.5V liPo battery. Conductive thread…is at the core of most of our wearble projects, but it does not carry much current — try combining multiple threads on the +ve and -ve terminals to decrease the resistance.

Sewing Tips:
When sewing ensure that your stitches around the terminals are tight, loose connections create problems, flickering lights or no connection at all. To thread the needle put a little clear nail polish on the conductive thread, it stops it fraying and helps harden the end so it fits more easily through the eye of the needle.

Step 4: Coding

Our jacket is designed to change colour on the X, Y and Z axes. The Neopixels change colour with a decay (so the colour appears to trickle along the lights). You can copy and paste our code into your Arduino the code is on our blog at:

Be sure to have the correct board set for the code to work on your flora: Tools/Board/Adafruit Flora. If you are using a different microprocessor or a different brand of accelerometer then you will need to adapt the code slightly to ensure you are including the correct libraries.

Step 5: Wear It

Light up the night with your accelerometer jacket.

We offer fashion tech and design classes and summer camp in NYC where young fashionistas and aspiring engineers fuse creativity with innovation as they explore the exciting world of wearable technology.

Students learn the actual techniques that are needed to be fashion designers and then use their creativity to solve real world dilemmas, working through iterative design cycles from concept to final prototype. In these summer courses students delve into the four pillars of wearable tech: design, engineering, construction and sustainability – learning conceptual design and how to refine their ideas. Students gain hands-on experience with pattern-drafting, sewing and construction, learn how to program Arduinos and explore the fundamentals of electrical engineering, prototyping and choosing fabrics. For their capstone project, students create a unique piece of wearable technology that improves the world around us.