Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Moving forward on all fronts

Although I've nothing finished to show for my efforts yet, I've been moving forward on my sewing projects. After a very intensive period at my work, including several weekends, I've decided to take a few days off work to get my sewing projects going.

First of all, I've nearly finished the nativity scene in fibre optics. The result is more impresssive than I expected it to be, I'm really quite pleased with the effect. I've done the line work with the fibre optics, but I also want to put in a few LEDs for stars into the image. I've also ordered some more fibre optics. These ones were 3 feet in length, and I found that a little short to work with, so I've ordered another 9 cables at a length of 5 feet each. The down side is that they may need a little more current - I've been able to run two 3-foot fibre optics off one 9-volt battery so far - I'm not sure if this will work for the 5-foot fibre optics cables. The circuits are hooked to the snap-ons - I will do this for the shirt as well. It makes connecting the pieces together, literally, a "snap". Also, I've realized that using a snap-on e-panel in this way, not only can I replace the panel with additional e-panels, but I can also retro-fit other garments to take the same panel design. So I could add the panel to a jacket, for example, or to a wall tapestry, as long as I build the battery holders, switches and circuits into these in appropriate ways.

I've cut the fabric for both the black pants and black shirt. I did the pants in a cotton shell first, to make sure of the fit. This is the first pair of pants I've made and I wanted to make sure the fit was right before proceeding into the fabric. The sample pair fit perfectly, though, so I cut the black cotton to make the pants, and bought myself some black elastic so I can do the belt area. For the shirt, I found a black cotton which has a bit of a crepe-like texture, very nice, and I've cut that also.

I'm also working on a princess-seam dress for a friend - I'm preparing the pattern blocks now. More on all of this later - and I'll put up some photos showing details.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Preparing a Fibre Optics Nativity Scene

Inspired by the Christmas Sew-Along at the BurdaStyle site, I've decided to put my growing electronic sewing expertise to work by designing a nativity scene onto the back shirt panel using the fiber optics cable. I can actually develop the scene ahead of actually finishing the shirt. Here is an example of one of the fibre optics cables I've bought :

It runs off a 9 volt battery, as shown in the photo. I've tested the ability to run more than one fibre optic from the same battery, and it works fine. It would be great if I could run all four fibre optics colors from the same 9-volt battery, but if I have to use two, that's not the end of the world. It may be better to use two, and drive a flashing "Star of Bethlehem" as well from one of the batteries.

Now, using an image I found on the web of the three kings looking up at the star of Bethlehem, I've drawn in a line image that I think I can reproduce using the fibre optics (see below). I've still got to experiment with hiding the fibre optics cable I don't want to see behind the fabric - I suspect it may still glow a little.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Smart shirt

I've worked out an overall design for a smart shirt - smart in the sense that it includes electronic lighting displays. Shown is the design I've come up with (as part of an all-black outfit including pants - the grey is shown only to make the design details clear). The idea is that the two rectangular front panels and the wide panel on the back are snapped on into place on the shirt. The shirt includes batteries worn at the side in specially designed battery holders, located just above the waist on either side. I plan on having non-electronic panels in a very sharp-looking design that I can wear some of the time, but also have different electronic panels than can be switched out for other panels - in this way, I can experiment with a variety of lighting ideas and not be locked into any of them. For example, I'm planning to do a lit Christmas scene that can be replaced with something else later on.

I've bought black fabric for the pants, which I'm currently making, and the shirt, whose design I am still refining. I plan to show more of the project as it evolves.

On Collections

I've been thinking about collections in fashion. A collection is really an aggregate that makes sense in relation to the designer, but not to the user or client. What the client would like is not a collection, which will contain several garments with somewhat similar concepts reflected throughout, but a group of garments that has utility in their (our) lives. This might be a set of moods, a series of events, a group of contexts in which fashion statements or identity are important... or even a combination of these. A person is looking for a "wardrobe", but, of course, this word is already in use for "all the clothes one owns" - still, it might be used here too. But other ideas come to mind. Maybe what one wants is a "semaine" - that is, a group of clothes that responds to the varied needs one might have over a week's time. Or an "event portfolio", to cover the different kinds of events one typically encounters.

Here are some possible names, therefore, for a set of garments a user might like to purchase : a wardrobe, an event portfolio, a mood suite, a semaine, a paradigm, etc. Now we will need to think about what particular mix of garments and styles would go into each of these subtly different groupings...

One would also like a very modular approach. Clothes are already modular, but clothing styles or not always so modular. One would want to design groups of clothes so they can be mixed with another designer's clothes, not just individual clothes.