Introduction: Dance Dance Revolution | Hand-Quilted Sensor Pad

Dance Dance Revolution | Hand-Quilted Sensor Pad

This Instructable will show you how to create a hand-sewn pad for the popular game Dance Dance Revolution, also known as DDR. The DDR pad will consist of nine fabric squares; four of the squares will be hand-tied with conductive thread while the remaining five will be machine sewn with non-condutive thread. This completed project will have the same setup as an official DDR pad to be used on a computer, resulting in four "arrow keys" and five non-responsive squares. The conductive hand-tied squares will be connected to a MaKey MaKey with alligator clips. The MaKey MaKey will then be plugged into a computer which will enable the pad to essentially "replace" your computers arrow keys. 

For more information or to purchase a MaKey MaKey Invention Kit visit this link

To make this project you will need the following items:

- 1 MaKey MaKey controller 
- 10 alligator clips
Although there are only five necessary conductive points for this project, the extra five are used to elongate connections which creates more space for the player. If you are able to find longer clips, five alligator clips would also work for this project.
- 1 USB cord

*These three items are included in the MaKey MaKey Invention Kit for $49.99 including shipping from MaKeyMaKey.

- 9 12x12" squares of fabric
I recommend purchasing two different patterns for the squares. For my project I chose to purchase a busier floral fabric for the four squares that will become "arrow keys" and a less-detailed pattern for the five squares that will not be conductive.

- 1 3ft x 3.5ft square of fabric
I recommend purchasing a third patterned fabric for the backing and binding of the DDR pad for more pleasing aesthetics. The extra half foot is for the binding.

- 1 3ft x 3ft square of your preferred quilters batting
Hint: If you go to Hobby Lobby or Michaels to purchase your fabric and batting download their apps from the Apple App Store for free 40% off coupons for any single item! When shopping, keep in mind that people will be stepping barefoot on this project, so check the clearance aisle for fabrics.

- Spool of conductive thread
30 feet  can be purchased for $2.95 at

- 1 needle

- Sewing Machine
If you don't have one ask a friend! 

- 1 Quilting hoop
Depending on size these can range from $5-30 from crafting stores. If you don't have a quilting hoop I recommend borrowing one to save money. If that is not an option I suggest purchasing a hoop that will fit a large portion of a single 12x12" square. This way you will have to move it less often.

- Iron

- Rotary fabric cutter & Scissors
I highly recommend buying a fabric cutter, it will make any sewing process much faster and easier! Hobby Lobby sells a great one for $24.99, with the 40% coupon that's only $10. 

In total this project cost me around $40. However, my Crafting Technologies professor provided me with the MaKey MaKey Invention Kit, conductive thread and needles. If you do not have these supplies prior to this project I would be prepared to spend around $90 depending on the quality of fabric and sewing supplies you purchase. 

The image attached to this page is the final product of this Instructable.

Step 1: Cutting the Fabric Squares

To begin sewing the DDr pad, you must first cut the individual squares. I recommend each square be 12x12 inches so that there is enough room for the average player's foot to fit inside each square. This will prevent the accidental usage of more than one "arrow key" at a time. 

Cutting the Fabric Squares

1. Layout the fabric you selected for the "arrow keys" onto a surface that you can use a fabric cutter or scissors on.
2. Cut off any excess or unwanted edges if they were included in your fabric.
3. Measure 12 inches horizontally on the top of the fabric from its edge and draw a light pencil mark.
* It is important to make sure that the fabric is level! Be sure the fabric is always aligned with a horiztonal and vertical standard when cutting to prevent uneven edges.
4. Measure 12 inches down beginning at the first pencil mark and draw another pencil mark.
5. After double-checking that the fabric is level, cut along the pencil marks to create your first 12x12" square.

You will repeat steps 1-5 for each of the nine square. When finished you should have four of the fabric squares that are intended to be the conductive "arrow keys" and five of the non-conductive fabric squares. 

Step 2: Connecting the Squares

The next step is to connect the nine fabric squares. After this step your project will begin to resemble the final product!

Connecting the Squares

1. I recommend beginning by laying out the 12x12 squares on a flat surface. This will help you to see where each square will be placed and can prevent sewing the wrong pieces together!
I also recommend that you double-check that each square is 12x12" before sewing.

2. On your sewing machine sew the connecting back edges of each square to one another. Allow for a 1/4" space between the edges of the squares.
Chose thread that will blend with your fabric.

3. Once the squares are sewn together, flip it over and iron the sewn edges apart in a light up and down motion to prevent the fabric from stretching.

When you are finished the squares should look like the image below.

Step 3: Cutting the Batting and Backing

The next step is to cut the quilters batting and fabric that you selected for the backing into 3x3 foot squares.

Cutting the Batting and Backing

1Layout the batting onto a flat surface for cutting. Measure three feet from the top edge of the batting and draw a pencil mark.

2. Beginning at that pencil mark, measure three feet down and draw another pencil mark.
As I stated in step one it is important to make sure that you are cutting straight edges to prevent an uneven square!

3. Cut the batting into a 3x3 foot square.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the fabric that will become the backing.  

5. Place the batting in between the squares and the backing to double check for any uneven edges. You may need to trim edges so that you have a straight square. 

6. Pin a few of the edges together to prevent unwanted movement of the three layers during the next step.

Step 4: Quilting the Squares

The next step will be quilting the squares! The "arrow keys" will be hand-tied with conductive thread and the five inactive squares will be machine sewn with normal thread. For my individual fabric I chose a floral print for the "arrow keys", because of this pattern I chose to hand-tie inside each flower to give it a 3D effect. However, if you prefer another method of quilting it will also work.

Quilting the Conductive Squares

1. Place the quilting hoop in a location that includes the majority of a single "arrow key" square.

2. Thread your needle with conductive thread and proceed to hand-tie the square.
*I tried to create a video with more detailed instructions on how to hand-tie, but I'm not sure how great it is! Below are the same instructions written out.

- Insert needle down through all three quilt layers and then back up through ¼” away from the initial spot. Leave a 2” tail.
- Repeat step in the same location to reinforce.
- Cut thread, leaving another 2” tail.
- Use a double knot to tie the tails together. Trim excess tails, leaving approximately 1.5-2”. (A longer tail that normal will be used on this project because the thread is being used as a conductor.)

3. It is important to note that all of your conductive thread must be connected in order to complete a circuit. Thus, if you chose to do separate patches as I did sew over all of them creating a connect pathway. This connection must also extend past the edge of the fabric creating a tail of thread that will be attached to the alligator clips.
*The last photo for this step includes a hand-drawn diagram of the sewing circuitry as well ask the MaKey MaKey connections that will be explained on the next page. I apologize for my drawing abilities and the horizontal positioning, but hopefully it can still serve as an informational guide during your crafting process! 

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for each of the four "arrow keys".

Quilting the Non-Conductive Squares

1. Place the three-layered fabric into your sewing machine. Chose a pattern and thread and continue to connect your non-conductive squares to the backing with the machine. 
Sometime it can be hard to keep the fabric from bunching around the sewing machine and shifting. I recommend using your free hand to guide the fabric through the machine.

Step 5: Binding the Quilt

The final step of the sewing portion is to bind the DDR pad so that the edges are connected. This can be done with the extra fabric that was used for the backing, or you can use yet another pattern. This simply depends on what look you prefer for your pad.

Binding the Quilt

I must admit that before this project I have never personally bound a quilt! So for this step I will refer you to the link below that guided me during the process.

Since I am clearly not an expert in this skill, I will include some of my personal struggles and tips that I discovered while binding my project.

1. Be sure that the trim is perfectly measured. I was not precise during this step and it resulted in some sides being larger or smaller than the others.

2. It is A LOT harder than it looks to keep all three layers of the fabric straight as it goes through the machine. I had a friend assist me in guiding the fabric, so don't be ashamed if your edges aren't perfectly straight. Mine certainly aren't! 

Step 6: Connecting the DDR Pad

The final step of this project is to connect your completed DDR pad to your MaKey MaKey and computer for play! 

Connecting the DDR Pad

1. Lay your DDR pad flat on the ground.

2. Find your conductive tails aka, the extra conductive thread that was left on each "arrow key" square, and connect an alligator clip to the individual tails. 

3. Lay your MaKey MaKey on the ground near the DDR pad. You will now begin connecting the alligator clips onto the MaKey MaKey controller.

4. Connect the alligator clips for each conductive square onto the corresponding arrow key on the MaKey MaKey. (The up conductive square to the up arrow on the MaKey MaKey, etc.) If your clips are not long enough to connect the DDR pad to the MaKey MaKey you will need to use the extra five clips as explained in the supplies list. Use these clips to add an extra alligator clip to each connection.

5. Place the fifth alligator clip to the first two holes on the bottom right of the MaKey MaKey. The other end of this alligator clip will be held by the player to create a ground. 

5. I recommend trailing the alligator clips on the underside of the DDR pad so they do not become tangled during play and for appearances. 

6. Plug the USB cord into the MaKey MaKey and connect it to the computer. Once it is plugged in it should become an alternate controller for your arrow keys.

7. The last step is to find a game to play! While I intended for my project to be a DDR pad, any arrow key-based game will work with your new controller. If your tech savvy you could use various programs such as Scratch, a game designing website created by MIT, to code your own game. Because DDR is so complex I simply found a pre-coded dance game online which I accessed through a guest account at

Congratulations you're done! Now go play a game with your nifty new craft! 

Step 7: Trouble Shooting

Lastly, I wanted to leave you with some problems/solutions that I experienced while testing the game with young players.

Trouble Shooting

Your players must be barefoot (socks off too!) in order to complete the circuit.

- Sometime the alligator clips may become disconnected. If you notice the pad is working incorrectly this is often the source of the problem. Simply reconnect them and resume gameplay!

- Be sure that your player knows to hold the metal end of the grounding alligator clip. 
It might be wise to connect the alligator clip to a tin foil anklet to prevent this issue.

- Encourage players to stand in the center non-conductive square for easier gameplay. Otherwise they may unintentionally press the arrows while you are selecting a song or not know to touch and then remove their foot from an arrow to prevent repetitive selection. 

- I would recommend explaining the basics behind the circuitry to your players to help prevent similar problems to the last point. 

- Don't assume everyone, especially younger players, know how to play your MaKey MaKey game! For successful playtime you may need to explain what the purpose of the game is and provide tips for winning! 

Sensors Contest

Participated in the
Sensors Contest