Nathan Dennler: Maquette

A note from future Nathan, cursing my past self: I totally forgot to take pictures during the process, so it’s hard to see it coming together, I will remember to do that next time!

This week I worked on the mesh turtleneck and the start of the dress. There were a couple of things that came up during this phase. At the fabric store, they didn’t really have any mesh in the color that I was hoping for. There were dark blue meshes and light colored meshes but none that were that sort of cornflower blue. I ended up just getting a light color and a dark color, and layering them together. This made it difficult to sew since there were four layers of slippery material, but in the end, I am pretty happy with the way it looks since the layers can shift over each other and give it a fluid feeling look.

When it came to sizing, after I made the mock-up of the turtleneck, I noticed that it was pretty big on me, so I made this one slightly smaller. The only thing I overlooked was that the mesh I used for this was not stretchy, so I was not able to fit my head through the hole. To fix this I put a zipper in the back.

Moving on to the dress, this took me much longer than I expected. There were a lot of pieces to cut out and I learned a lot about “gathering” materials. I also discovered how much work goes into the bodice of the dress as opposed to the skirt: The bodice took about 12 hours and the skirt took only 3ish.

Once I got this to a semi-transportable state, I started working on the shirt’s lighting. I was trying to find a way to mate the LEDs with the fiber optic cables in a way that they would be resilient to some movement since this will be worn. I 3D printed some pieces to do this, but I think that heat shrink tubing will be better in terms of flexibility, and I also think I will be able to fit more cables per LED.

These connectors work well enough, but I could only fit four cables into them, I think it is from the inaccuracies in the printer, which are kind of rough since the cables are 0.75mm in diameter, so accuracy really counts.

In terms of the actual attaching of the cables to the shirt, I originally planned on sewing in the fiber optic cable with invisible thread. After trying to do this for a while, I realized that there were a couple of problems with this idea: It takes super long, the cables have a tendency to bend (since it was stored in a circular shape), it causes the inner layer of the shirt to move in strange ways, and most obnoxiously–it looks ugly (I wanted a more orderly pattern and trying to sew the things in resulted in a rat’s nest of cables). In order to fix this, I was planning on using an idea from Arianna’s post a while back about using mesh with large holes to thread the fabric through (if I need something heavier, I was also considering using a screen, though that definitely won’t be a comfortable solution). This should solve most of the problems I was having, since it will be like sewing in cables with many many points in much much less time.

In terms of the materials, I did get all of the LEDs, controllers, and fabric. I didn’t end up getting a chance to try out the controllers, but I think there are quite a few examples, so I hope that it won’t be too difficult to work with (fingers crossed).

A picture of the controller. Look how small!

Looking ahead, specifically to the headpiece I wanted to make, I got some Styrofoam “project bricks” from my house, which I can embed some skewers in to form the flower stems. I think that My plan is to attach two plastic bowls together and cut a hole for my head in them. I did this once for an astronaut costume I made for Halloween in high school, and I think it worked fine.

So my updated list is:
– Two plastic bowls from Walmart
– Some mesh / screen with thick holes (I think I could also get this at the Super Walmart down the road)

My plan for this week is to finish up the sewing and use some of the NeoPixels and the the controllers to get a handle on the interface.

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