LEDing fashion

ledingfashion Ha ha ha. Isn’t that funny? LEDing Fashion? You know, fashion with LEDs, ha ha ha..? Okay, it wasn’t funny. So what’s new? For me, writing titles is harder than writing entries.

Today is one of those days when ADHD gets the best of me, thanks in part to Marie-Christine who sends word of the built-in turn signal bike jacket. I can tell you right now that as great as this product is (largely still in the DIY/concept stage), it’s not going to go anywhere without a cool-factor name to market it. As one could surmise, this conceptual rendition was invented by an engineering wonk (Leah Buechley) who stubbornly persists in naming things descriptively by function and utility (not that we know anyone else who does this). It’s a good thing she’s got a solid gig at MIT because she wouldn’t last five minutes on Madison Avenue.

If so inclined, you can make one of these yourself, courtesy of a tutorial posted to Instructables. It would be helpful to have the kit which Ms Buechley sells on her site. She also provides a series of basic electronics tutorials that are useful to build things. Her site includes an extensive list of DIY projects related to sewing+electronics/math. I think the math bags are a great way to combine math with art and craft. She uses a graphing calculator and a laser cutter to make those. I had no idea there was such a thing as a desktop laser cutter. Hers is not much bigger than a desktop laser printer.

A note about the photo showing placement of LEDs on the jacket. You might think it would be better to have the LEDs across each shoulder blade for greater visibility but on a bike, you’re hunched over. Drivers behind you can’t see your shoulders unless you’re sitting upright. LEDS just above the back waist is a good place.

Okay, you can run along now. I know some of you will be lost for the rest of the day following those links.

Image courtesy: L.Buechley

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  1. Emma Cunningham says:

    I went to a one-day workshop with Leah to learn how to program the Arduino kit she sells. I ended up frustrated because most of the other attendees were already very familiar with the programming, and the class went so fast I felt foolish. By lunchtime the three sewing people (including me) had all freaked out and left, leaving the computer geeks without any sewing skills for the afternoon session. I actually learned better from the online tutorials than the class: Leah is so smart and talented that I didn’t find her very helpful in person explaining things at my level. So I’m confident if anyone bought a kit they could teach themselves at their own pace using the tutorials. I had no programming knowledge to begin with and I could get the temperature sensors, light sensors etc doing what I wanted.

  2. kay says:

    Kathleen, if you aren’t stopping in to the MAKE magazine website once in awhile, you may find it diverting. One of the recent issues had a build it yourself CNC router for $800, and article on 3-D printing. Can’t find the button or buckle you want? Print it yourself on your 3D printer or mill it on your own router. (Oh, and electroluminescent wire is a kick!)

  3. Unless you’re on a recumbant, which a lot of people are. Then the shoulders are good. I’ll have to look at that when I get home. I bike and I have many bike friends…might make a good present (at least a fun one)


  4. SusanM says:

    I am a special ed and math teacher, a quilter, and a sewer. In my former life I was a computer programmer. This article speaks to all of my interests. I found it fascinating. Thanks, Kathleen.

  5. Sandra B says:

    I second Kay’s recommendation to MAKE magazine, and it’s sibling site CRAFT. I get the daily digest, hoo boy, what an enjoyable time-waster that is! Some of my favourite Arduino garments are the TV Be-Gone switch activated by zipping up one’s hoodie, the Powerpoint disruptor embroidered into the pattern on a corporate tie (cue evil laughter) as well as the entire slew of anti-surveillance devices to silently protest against the gradual eroding of our personal autonomy.

    I’ve also been following Diana Eng’s FairyTale fashion, (http://fairytalefashion.org/) with such delights as inflable fashion, deployable structures, stitchable electronics and mobius strip garments. Oh, and the sewing machine that was hacked into a musical instrument

  6. LizPf says:

    Finally, my husband’s and my hobbies meet up, and have a party!

    He’s immersed in the 3D printing world, and Arduino, and a lot of similar techie-geek thing that leave my head spinning.

    I just completed my first pattern draft — elastic waist white pants for my 9 year old son’s Morris dance outfit. The fit isn’t perfect, but better than anything I could buy, and gosh! it was fun to do.

    I’m forwarding Leah’s website link to him … and expect some interesting projects to come my way.

  7. Mark Miller says:

    It truly must be the end of life as we know it!

    Not bad enough that VC’s have killed more than a few apparel companies,
    now ENGINEERS are making clothing….

    Must have been a slow day in the news cycle (as opposed to Bi-cycle).

  8. Kathleen says:

    Mark, are you being facetious? Sorry, I’m a bit dense.

    Pattern makers are engineers and as someone who likes biking (it’s dark in the mornings, riding to work) I think it’s a great idea. :)

  9. Sorry because I don’t have a link to the product, but not so long ago I saw an off the shelf fluouro jacket for cycling which had a display on the back and shoulders that was a bit like landing strip lights. It was pretty much a standard one size fits all thing with the control in the front left chest pocket area … you simply clicked on or off or through the possible programs including a banner thing for advertising stuff. Was pretty cheap and made in china I think and you had a choice of red, yellow, green and orange lights for the banner. It wasn’t very heavy but I’d question it’s water proofing or how well it might last in a fall!

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