Last semester for my final project I got a small taste of wearable technology. The tech part came second, but I had an idea to make interactive gloves and a cape that reacts when a user puts it on. I had no idea that would lead me down the road to wearables. Since then I have become slightly more aware of the wearables around me and their ingrained presence in our everyday lives. In all honesty, before ITP I didn’t even know what “hardware” meant and had no idea that something like an Apple watch would be something I would identify as a wearable. Same goes for soft circuitry; I remember being utterly confused as to why we had sewing machines. I didn’t understand how sewing had anything to do with technology.
Why of all this is relevant is because I found the same theme in the reading, “Losing the Thread” by Virginia Postrel. I found this essay very interesting on multiple levels–the most obvious is the connection between textiles and technology and the misconception that all wearables are clunky, hard gadgets that we wear. Rather than being the fabric we wear. This reminds me of an article I read after CES 2016 about a sports bra that was presented. The OmBra by Omsignal is a sports bra that not only functions in the traditional wearable sense, as an activity tracker of many sorts, but also a very comfortable bra that accommodates the many varying issues women face while exercising. When the Co-Founder and CEO of Omsignal, Stephanie Marceau was asked about the future of wearables, she responded that soon the hardware will disappear, as smart textiles emerge. Both of these articles have helped to change my perspective in wearables, that’s less about making clothes light up and more about how to make everyday clothes have a greater purpose in making our lives more meaningful. I am very interested to explore this during the semester.
Weaving a circuit:
To weave a circuit, I ended up just sewing a circuit. I used 2 LEDs, two small pieces of conductive fabric, a 3 Volt battery, felt, and two types of conductive thread. I have very little experience sewing a circuit, but I do know that the longer the conductive thread, the more resistive it is, which I learned the hard way. I wanted to do something with a soft button.
Supplies: glue, sticks, conductive thread, conductive fabric, 3V coin cell battery, and felt
The first thing I did was draw out the circuit.
The first thing I did was roll the legs of the LEDs in order to sew the thread into them. I tested the sides a few times with the coin cell battery to ensure I knew which was positive and ground. Then I cut small slits in the pink felt (I found in the soft lab), then I pushed the LEDs through. Once I had that I tested the conductive thread with the battery. Everything was good. Then I began to to sew. Once I sewed them in, it seemed everything was fine. My next step was to make a soft switch. My plan was to use a small piece of a hard foam I found in the soft lab. I cut a rectangle in side of it and then attached conductive fabric to each side. To adhere it, I just used electric tape. Since I didn’t have a coin cell battery holder, I cut out two very small pieces of conductive fabric to attached to each side of the battery. I used duct tape to attach them. After testing this, I decided to make a small enclosure for the battery with the same pink felt. Of course, after sewing this, and testing it again with my circuit it didn’t work. I spoke with Teresa about it, and she played with it, and concluded that the thread was so thin that it was too resistive for the circuit. She suggested going over each power and ground line with another round of conductive thread, which is shown below. Although this allowed me to close the circuit, I still wasn’t able to execute my original plan of having a soft switch. However, I learned a lot from sewing this circuit and excited to continue practicing.
This semester I really want to explore smart textiles and create something that is useful for everyday life. In conjunction with my Muscle class with Nancy Nowacek, I want to create something that inspires, requires, and celebrates movement. In my mood board, I chose pictures of “everyday” women, as I would like to focus on making something for women. I chose a lot of soft, but bold colors.
I want it to feel like something that feels natural, and not intrusive. My goal would be to create something that looks like something a woman already wears or uses, but function in a way that makes people feel good and get more enjoyment out of mundane tasks.
Track a garment:
I chose this vest as my favorite garment. It’s actually a new addition to my wardrobe, but I love its versatility, texture, and it’s balance of hard and soft. The outside of the vest is made to look like distressed leather. The texture looks rough, sort of like a worn leather motorcycle jacket. However, the touch is smooth. It’s a nice contrast to the fur on the inside of the jacket. The fur also has a lot texture and feels soft, and pillow-like.
In order to make this, I think that the outside of the jacket was cut first. The vest does not close although, in fact, not only is there only one button near the bottom of the fur lining, it is also cut so the bottom is open, which gives a very casual look. I think once the shape of the vest was made, the fur lining was cut to fit the faux leather. It seems that another centimeter was left, so that the fur is visible in the pockets, arm holes, and inside lining.