Introduction: Neopixel Rainbow Tutu of Righteousness

Everyone will want one. As an homage to the fairy godmother of wearables Lynne Bruning, I created this Neopixel Rainbow Tutu of Righteousness. Groovy.

It's just fun to make one and more so if you get to wear it.

Step 1: Making the Best Out of Nothing...

This is another one of those quick projects you can do after dinner. It's also a good project to learn how to sew.

You can use any kind of material you want and embellish it however you want to.

I had some light colored muslin in the fabric stockpile but essentially you could make this out of an old bedsheet or scraps of fabric laying around. Use a fabric that helps diffuse the bright LEDs a bit and will look nice when lit up from the back.

I got some lace and a roll of nicely patterned ribbon found at the discount fabric store to use as trim for the tutu.

This isn't technically a tutu but some kind of short pouffy skirt. So to make this skirt, just roll with it. You can use a regular sewing machine or to make things a whole lot easier, use a serger. You can also do this by hand if you have the patience.

Step 2: The Circle of Life...

I started out by cutting a lot of 4 inch wide strips.

To make this tutu/skirt, we will be piecing together strips of fabric into longer strips. We don't need to worry about measuring accurately too much since the finished product is pretty much wild and free.

The fabric strips will form the bands of the tutu.

Start with a strip that is a bit longer than needed for the waist size. The bottom edge of the strip will be gathered. This task is easy if you have a gathering foot for your sewing machine or if you set the differential feed on your serger. It bunches up the fabric as you sew and does it evenly. The strip will end up curly and not flat.

Make this gathered bottom edge on a few long strips.

To join this strip to the next, lay the gathered edge over the unhemmed edge of a strip of fabric. Sew that with a regular straight stitch or without the gathering. This fixes all the "pleated or gathered" fabric to a nice straight line. Trim the newly attached piece at the end where the strips are no longer matched up and you have excess. You will notice that things start flaring out, especially when more bands are added on. If you pieced together long strips, note where the seams are so that they can be placed on the "wrong side" when you sew so that the clean finished seam shows on the outside.

Keep on repeating this process for the number of bands that you want to get the length of the tutu desired. Always visualize how to get the finished look of seams by sewing on the back side and matching up pieces correctly. Otherwise, keep that seam ripper tool handy.

The last band on the bottom of the tutu is the lace trimming. It was serged on.

You can sew the tutu together at the far edges to close the loop or finish them so you can have some kind of wrap skirt.

I had a strip of fabric left over so I just serged that into a thin strap. It will be used as the tie or belt that goes though the waistband tube created with a strip of ribbon serged on. It is flipped over along the top edge and sewn closed on the finished side. You can come up with other ways to fasten the tutu closed but this provides some size adjustment. I could have also used elastic webbing to put in the waistband instead of the cinch strap but then you wouldn't have a bonus decorative bow when you tie the strap.

Step 3: Skirt of Many Colors...

I'm not sure which was the last project that I used with this Adafruit Flora board and Neopixel strips. It was already wired up so I might as well use it as is in that configuration - 2 Neopixel strips on separate data pins. All I would need to do is to write up a quick arduino sketch to make the lights light up the way I want for the light up tutu. I just tweaked the Strandtest demo sketch for Neopixels to run the rainbow Neopixel light animations. The color changes were coded to run from opposing directions, that's how you get the cool crossfade. The same setup can be used to light up hats or other garments.

There are so many different boards and electronic components available that this simple project can be expanded to have:

- sensors to make the lights react to movement

- a microphone to make the lights sound reactive

- a color sensor to sample a color on another object and make the tutu light up in the same color

- a light sensor so the tutu can turn on when the room gets dark

- proximity sensors to light the tutu when a person approaches

- wireless or bluetooth connectivity for control with a remote or smartphone app

- speakers for sound effects

- a whole lot of Internet of Things (IoT) functions

and so much more.

I put in an additional layer of fiberfill batting to diffuse the neopixel LEDs. The strips can be mounted in a multitude of ways from sewing in fabric channels to fastening with a quick-sew-basting tool/price label taggers.

So make a light up tutu for any occasion. Experiment with design and have fun with it.


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