Skirt Chaser: Zoetrope Skirt




The laser cut figures are lit up sequentially to create a running animation around the skirt when it spins.

Materials used:

1. Dark, fine weave fabric, about 2 yards, depending on the size and length of your skirt
2. Light colored lining fabric
3. Muslin
4. 8" zipper, one button
5. Laser Cutter
6. Arduino
7. 12 Neopixel sewable lights.
8. I used a Lilypad but since the lights are all on one pin you could use a Gemma
9. 3.7 Litho battery
10. Ribbon Cable wire
11. LilyPad Simple Power
12. Soldering iron

Step 1: Adjust Panel Templates

The skirt is made up of 6 panels (3 that repeat twice, with different figures on each). Take the measurements for the waist and hips. The total measurement for each is divided by 6. Then add 1 inch to that number to allow or a half inch seam allowance on each side. Make those changes to each of the three panel templates (skirtlong_1, skirtlong_2, skirtlong_3) in a vector graphics program such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.

Also adjust the length you want for the skirt. I used a 30 inch bed laser cutter but you can make a shorter skirt with a 24 inch bed.

Laser cut 2 of each panel in the dark skirt material.

"Save as" one of the skirt panel files without the figures to laser cut 6 panels out of the muslin. Or use one of the skirt panels you cut as a template to manually cut 6 muslin panels that will be the inner skirt with the lights and electronics.

For the light color lining I cut just 2 pieces that were the same size as 3 panels sewn together (half of the skirt).

Step 2: Sewing the Skirt, Lining and Inner Skirt

Sew the 6 shirt panels in order: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. Leave one side seam open 8 inches for the zipper. Sew the lining, also leaving the side seam open for the zipper. With wrong sides together, sew the lining to the skirt at the waist. Turn right-sides out.

I made the inner skirt as a separate garment so it is easier to clean the laser cut skirt. Sew those 6 panels together and again, leave a top side seam open 8 inches. I left that open and just used a button enclosure on the top, no zipper.

Step 3: Sewing the Circuit

Using a Lilypad and cable wire

I used a Lilypad because I had one but since all of the 12 NeoPixel lights are run off one pin you could use a Gemma. This skirt has a switch and power connector to a 3.7 Lithium battery.

I used cable wire because it is coated and helps to avoid short circuits. Neopixels have three connections, positive, negative and data. I zigzagged stitched the wires in place, leaving extra for repairs, the wires break easily. When they do it is easier to repair when there is extra wire. That's why there are loops in the schematic. In attaching the wires, they are soldered and also have hot glue to keep them from breaking. The skirt moves so it needs extra reinforcement.

Step 4: Arduino Code for Lighting in Sequence


There are 12 lights as white (255, 255, 255) running off of pin 12.

You can change the speed by changing the delay number: higher number, slower, lower number, faster.

-- delay(200); // wait 1/10th of a second



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    7 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This is a really neat idea! I bet if you paired it with a gyroscopic sensor, you could control your framerate directly with your spin.

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Yeah I thought that was what was happening at first too.

    Great project!


    Reply 2 years ago

    That's a great idea. I'm going to look into that, thanks.