Tacky Xmas Sweater

Well we endeavored to make our own ugly Christmas sweater for this project, and I think it came out awesome.

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I, of course, neglected to take good photos (Matt did take some video, but I don’t have it) before I had to go back home :/

Our sweater lights up, plays Jingle bells and uses a couple different sensors to make it interactive with the environment and user. We used Adafruit sequin LEDs (super freakin’ tiny) and conductive thread to connect to the Flora board, all of which are made to be specifically used on wearable projects. We encountered issues with the conductive thread because it’s so sensitive and flimsy, we had to be extra precise in how the connections ran to the board. Additionally, we had some odd issues with the Flora, it seemed to only be recognized on the Arduino app on my computer–we quickly learned the Windows peeps had to download some driver for it to read the board/port.

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The sweater was a white thrift store purchase that we cut and turned into a cardigan so that we could have light up buttons that lit in response to temperature (ie cold). I dyed the sweater red to give it that real Xmas feel (this was in itself its own laborious project, definitely learned a lot from my mistakes and also how to clean stains from a dryer! thanks YouTube!).

I also created faux shoulder pads from heavy duty interfacing, which I regret–we had originally planned to put more things at the shoulders and needed structure thinking they’d be heavy, but in the end put it in the center below the neck and it was all super light! The stiffness of the padding is good for the flex sensors, I just wish I hadn’t been so overzealous and only added it at the shoulder seams.

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Part of the reason I don’t love the padding is apparent in the above picture. The stiffness of the material causes it to pop up near the neck, it needed to be cantilevered by actual stuffing at the shoulders, but that would’ve interfered with the bending of the flex sensors (that trigger the piezo playing Xmas songs), so we left it as is. Turns out the Flora + coin cell battery package kind of does the job of weighing the fabric down so there’s not so much popping. yay! we planned that.

In any case, it was a fun project, I definitely learned a lot about the process of putting together a wearable tech object.