Where to Go From Here

About: Specializing in sewing, soldering and snacking. More stuff I do... I teach an interactive fashion and textile class called Wearable and Soft Interactions at California College of the Arts. www.wearablesoft...

Congratulations you are done with the Hi-5 Collector and now you can get out there and start getting your high-fives. I hope you have enjoyed building the projects in this class and learning the highlighted skills. You can now program an Arduino compatible board, sew a running stitch and design soft switches for all kinds of fun actions.

The last thing I am going to go over is how to take care of your projects and where to go to next!

You will learn:

+ how to wash your wearables

+ how other artists are using their skills

+ where to find some cool materials


Step 1: Wearing a Wearable

I've sometimes seen people create a wearable project but not wear it. Instead, it sits on a shelf collecting dust, never to be interacted with again. There can be completely valid reasons for this, such as:

+ It was custom fitted to someone else.

+ The situation it was built for doesn't come up all that often.

It's safe to say that none of those reasons apply to us. Throughout this class, you have put this project on to create a switch, test, place components and test some more. So wearing it hopefully is not a foreign feeling at this point. But don't stop here! Push yourself to use it for it's intended purpose after it's completion. As an accessory that facilitates an amusing social interaction.

There is still more to learn from this introductory project. Wear it to see if parts of the circuit are strained and break over time. Wear it to see if you can push yourself to high-five everyone you encounter while walking in the park. Wear it to see how comfortable it is with the layers of insulation you've chosen. Wear it to see... what else you can learn!

Step 2: Washing Wearable Electronics

The first thing to know about washing a wearable: take out the battery! The other things you need to consider before throwing your threads into water are:

+ Do my electronic components have any open spaces for water go and get trapped in or exposed delicate parts? For example, buzzers, speakers, and mics.

The LilyPad series of electronic components that you have been using in this class are made to be washable. However, there is an exception. Head over to the LilyPad buzzer hookup guide. When you scroll down you see that it says "This particular LilyPad component cannot be washed." Why? If you look at the component it has a small hole in it where the magnet and coil is. If water gets in there, it can lead to corrosion and damage the delicate mechanism that needs to stay intact for it to make sounds. You will find other wearable and sewable components for sale that are also made to be washable.

What about other components? If a component consists of a sealed package and is not receiving power it can likely be washed, dried and survive. Checking them for any holes or delicate parts can be a good enough indicator for whether they can make it through a washing or not.

+ What kind of fabric are my components sewn to?

The garment or accessory your circuit is on has its own washing needs. It's washing needs are based on what kind of fiber it is made from. To find out look at the tag, take note in the fabric store or do a burn test. For example, if you put a wool sweater in the washer on hot and dry it on hot, it will shrink and felt up. This applies to the 100% wool felt you use in this class. Once you know the fiber, look up that fiber's washing needs and wash it accordingly. Make sure to think about any added pieces! For example in this class, you added 100% wool to a t-shirt. The t-shirt will have different washing needs than the wool, use the directions for wool which is the most delicate.

+ Hand or machine wash? What about dry cleaning?

Dry cleaning uses chemicals, so avoid when possible. You can wash most items that need dry cleaning by hand in cold water and air dry them. Some silks will get discolored if it touches water, so if a garment is silk and says "dry clean", then be mindful.

If the project is built on material that is machine washable, check for delicate areas and machine wash according to the fiber content. If machine washed, you may want to put it on a delicate setting to prevent parts from wearing down faster.

If a project seems delicate or is small and handmade I like to hand wash it. Delicate parts could be embroidery or connections that may not be that strong. Soldered joints can be delicate and some solder contains silver and copper which corrodes when wet and exposed to air.

Always dry your electronics completely as quickly as possible to prevent corrosion.

Step 3: Washing Your Class Projects

I recommend the same washing method for all the projects you make in this class because they are all made from 100% wool, a material that needs careful handling or it will shrink significantly. Follow along with the instructions I've illustrated using the Hi-5 Collector for washing all the handmade parts of your class projects.

Remove the battery
. The LilyPad USB can stay on the project, but I recommend removing it to make cleaning and drying easier and faster. I recommend hand washing the Hi-5 Collector in cold water and air drying it. If there is a visible stain, I recommend spot treating the piece to preserve the shape of the project. This is because it's made of 100% wool that will shrink when heat and agitation are applied. It is also a non-woven material that can stretch out of shape while wet and if it's not kept an eye on. I do not recommend machine washing because since it's 100% wool. If you find that your project has shrunken a little, which I would expect from 100% felted wool, rewet the wool and stretch it out! That is the great thing about wool, it's very malleable.

Remove the battery.

Get the project completely wet and aAdd a small amount of gentle soap.

Lightly rub and swish the project in the soapy water freeing any dirt.

Drain sink and rinse the project under cold water.

Squeeze out all excess water.

Expect the project to shrink a little. Reshape while still wet and lay flat to air dry.

Even though the t-shirt's care tag tells me that I can machine wash it in cold and tumble dry on low I will hand wash it because of the 100% wool sensor and switch additions.

Be careful when washing the pin/patch. If you used a marker for any drawn details that was not a fabric marker the details may bleed when they come in contact with water.

Step 4: Materials Resources


Fashioning Technology

Make: Wearable Electronics

Sew Electric

Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA

Cond. + Resistive Fabrics

Less EMF


Plug and Wear

Textile Perfboards

Mindsets - sample pack


Cond. + Resistive Thread and Yarn

Lamé Lifesaver

Shieldex Thread

Yarn and Filler

Karl Grimm Copper Thread

Sold by Plusea (Hannah Perner Wilson)



Plug and Wear

Cond. + Resistive Trims, Ribbons, and Elastic



Conductive Rubber

Prefab Sensors, Buttons, and Interfaces

Plug and Wear


Sensing Tex

Plusea's Etsy Store

Electronic Components and DIY Kits


Adafruit - great tutorials

Sparkfun - great tutorials


All Electronics


Pololu - particularly good for servos and robotics

ServoCity - everything servo + gearmotors and stepper motors

Miga Motors - muscle wire actuators

Light Up

Fiber Optic Products

Cool Neon - EL wire and accessories

Fabric Paints and Pigments

Bare Conductive Paint

Copper CuPro-Cote Paint (scroll down)

Y-Shield - carbon-based resistive paint

Hardware That is Small, Powerful and/or Designed for Wearables

LilyPad Arduino





Arduino Mini Pro

eTextile and Wearable Tech Tutorial/Project Websites

Kobakant - the ultimate DIY eTextile and wearable electronics source

Fashioning Technology - get lots of inspiration from checking out projects



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