Friday, August 01, 2014

Lilypad is "a set of sewable electronic pieces designed to help you build soft interactive textiles. A set of sewable electronic modules–including a small programmable computer called a LilyPad Arduino–can be stitched together with conductive thread to create interactive garments and accessories."1

I heard about Lilypad during a podcast where it was discussed as a way to engage girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)and I was immediately intrigued. I started by reading the information at the Lilypad website, downloading and installing the Arduino software and ordering a LilyPad Simple Development board from Sparkfun Electronics.

A bag or purse is frequently my favorite item to make when I'm experimenting or practicing something new and this time I made a small pouch to carry my phone and office keys when I'm at work.

The Details:
  • The dragonfly design is worked in a Japanese embroidery technique known as Sashiko. Sashiko is worked with a running stitch and that provided the perfect structure for hiding the conductive thread. I used a linen look fabric (53% linen, 47% rayon) and DMC #5 pearl cotton thread.

  • I mapped the best paths from the Lilypad controller to the LEDs on the body of each dragonfly.

  • Before stitching the conductive thread, I ironed fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric to stiffen it and make a sturdier bag.

  • After the LED's were connected and grounded to the Lilypad, I checked the circuit by running a routine to turn each LED on and off. I corrected a short that occurred when a couple of my beginning thread tails were too long and came in contact. I also determined the bag needed to be lined (to prevent the conductive threads on the front and back of the bag from touching.)

  • Before lining the bag I made a small patch pocket to hold the lithium battery and hand stitched it down (it could just as easily been machine stitched but, given a choice, I'm a hand stitcher.) Also, I made a cross-body strap and cut two pieces from that to make loops (for the D rings) which were machine stitched into the side seams of the bag.

  • Finished size is 4.5" x 7".

  • My programing skills are not strong (I'd rather be knitting!) so my husband wrote a more sophisticated sketch (the term used for an Arduino program) where one or more dragonflies light for a random amount of time.

    I love the novelty and challenge of e-textiles and I definitely plan on my next project being a garment. The idea brainstorming has begun!


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