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Make Shift Do Dundee: E-Textiles Workshop

"Learn how to integrate electronics into wearable accessories such as cuffs, collars and brooches. This new workshop will combine the exploration of couture hand stitching techniques, materials experimentation and the use of electronics such as LEDs."

I found this workshop an excellent opportunity to learn how to embed electronics into different materials. Tickets were going fast and I somehow managed to book the last space.

We were introduced to the 3 core technologies we were going to use:

  1. Adafruit GEMMA (very similar to Arduino's Lilypad)

  2. LEDs

  3. And conductive thread

Image A

We kicked off by doing a few exercises on paper (Image A). Each one of us had to draw the connection path between the LEDs and the board. The instructors did a great job at explaining how to connect everything correctly, making sure no mistakes will happen on the real piece, to avoid any painful unstitching. Having understood the technique, we were free to start embroidering any design we wanted! All materials were provided.

The organisers of the event had prepared the code so that we wouldn't have to spend time worrying about it. GEMMA is coded in the same way as an Arduino, so I will not have any issues coding the board in the future.

My stitching skills are basic. I am not extremely experienced with sewing, so I had to take a decision quickly so that I could dedicate more time on stitching. I decided to use black and white felt to make a yin-yang since there wasn't enough time to think about the design.

The final result:

I attached white LEDs on the front and blue on the back just to see the difference in the effect. I quite like how the blue leds shine through the material.

Learning Outcomes: I feel so lucky I managed to attend this workshop. I love working in different mediums and I am pretty pleased with the result. The workshop was very informative and useful as it gave me some ideas on how I can potentially realise my project. I will definitely consider the use of conductive thread, as it immediately eliminates the use of wires and GEMMA as a good alternative to bulky Arduino. Overall, it has been a really fun & rewarding experience.