Electronic textiles (etextiles) is a nifty way to blend electronics with traditional fabrics and new materials that conduct electricity. This has several broad and powerful applications: it can extend the range of possibilities for craftspersons and interactive artists; it can form the basis for learning about electronics and programming in a context different from the typical breadboarded circuit; and it can usher in a whole new class of clothing that capture and display biometric data for health, informational, and playful purposes.
Check out this choker made by Robot Girlfriend for Valentine's day. It shimmers and sparkles with help from some tiny little etextile modules, and it's pretty easy to make.
Designer: Dia Campbell
Photographer: Michael Hirsch
Step 1: Ingredients
The choker combines some tiny traditional rhinestones, with light-up sequins, and an electronic board that turns on the lights in sequence.
- Sparkle board from Aniomagic - a multiplexing board that flashes lights in 3 different patterns. The way to set patterns is to simply sew on a tiny capacitor sequin to either hole. Nifty huh!
- 8 or so light-up sequins - these are SMD LEDs that have beads soldered unto them to make them easy to sew.
- some black and red rhinestones
- a small battery (CR1216) - you can use a bigger one, but this project stays lit for almost 8 hours!
- conductive thread from SparkFun
- some red tulle
- a pair of tube clasps
Step 2: Arrangement
Arrange several layers of tulle material for this project. The bottom layer will be plain, the middle layer will have the light-up sequins, and the top layer will have Sparkle and the other red and black rhinestones.
You can use another layer to add more depth to the choker.First, sprinkle your sequins and rhinestones to get a general sense of how things will look. We'll glue the smaller red shinestones to the tulle, and at the end, add some black and red ones on top of the Sparkle board.
Sparkle might blend in better into your project if you add rhinestones. Don't do this yet though! You'll need to sew it down first. This is just a heads up.
Step 3: Sewing on the Sequins
Essentially, the idea is to orient the sequins, from left to right: silver, brass, brass, silver.
Sparkle will then be able to turn on each one at different times.
To prevent short circuiting the battery, we'll put a bit of tape over the side of the battery. Then route the thread on top of that tape, with a little bit touching the metal.
Sew on four of the sequins, but don't attach to Sparkle yet. We'll sew that on after we place the third layer of tulle.
Step 4: Sewing on the Battery
Sew on two long straight sections of thread into a large rectangle.
Doing it like this allows the tulle to be folded without too much danger of causing short circuits.
We haven't found any really tiny battery holders that fit in with something like this,
so we had to tape the conductive thread to the battery. :-/
Step 5: Sewing on Sparkle, and Final Steps
Now, after putting on the other layers, sew on Sparkle to the stubs of conductive thead left from the previous steps. Now you can glue the black and red rhinestones on top of Sparkle, if you want.
Bunch the ends of the tulle and use some thin red thread to tie and attach the tube clasps.
Cover with additional layers of tulle to get the desired effect.
Et voilà! An elegant choker to light up the night!