Speculative You: Multiuse Garment

I went into this project knowing that I wanted to take the opportunity to create something that could be worn by migrants, the impoverished, and others who don’t have a permanent place in the world. I decided to make a coat that can be used as a tent for when no other shelter is available. The garment includes a strip LED that runs down the back of the coat’s hood and arm, and down one side of the tent (when it’s in each position). There is a soft switch located strategically so it can be seen on the outside of the coat sleeve, or on the inside of the tent, depending on which state the garment is in. If this garment were ever produced commercially, I would want it to be powered by solar panels, which I think would be the most practical and economical (not to mention environmentally-friendly), which addresses the “speculative” part of the assignment.


Fabric, tulle (King Textiles) to better disperse the LED lights

Fabric, muslin (King Textiles) to construct the pattern

Fabric, vinyl (Fabricland) for the prototype and final model

1/4″ 16g steel tubing (OCAD U) for the tent poles

Bungee cord (King Textiles) to hold together the tent poles

Strip LED (Creatron) LEDXF-006105

9V battery (Creatron) BATTA-160449

Battery snaps (Creatron) BATTH-900010

Conductive thread (Creatron) LILYP-010867

45″ zipper x 2 (King Textiles) for the sleeves

White thread (King Textiles)


15301118_1136092896428316_903441285_n 15301345_1136092923094980_1935220830_n 15310632_1136093006428305_1049813891_n 15310745_1136093003094972_98640321_n 15319574_1136093126428293_2033539743_n 15320270_1136093073094965_917509978_n 15320314_1136093039761635_1255370695_n 15327546_1136092763094996_1593791321_n 15327789_1136092926428313_221026044_n 15356031_1136093103094962_988940708_n 15356109_1136092933094979_1275012462_n 15356115_1136092979761641_1710651856_n 15356994_1136092976428308_865214880_n 15401288_1136093009761638_1644876294_n

As you can see, the garment works as intended with the prototype, but the patterning fabric (muslin) wasn’t strong enough to maintain the tent shape in the life-size version. This is obviously something I would have to address if the garment were ever produced commercially, but I think double-layering the vinyl and including tent poles along the bottom edges of the garment would work to solve the problem.

Final Garment

15631528_1153665311337741_489663472_o 15658072_1153665308004408_1269295124_o 15658187_1153665301337742_497590991_o 15658774_1153665318004407_1694559215_o 15681699_1153665288004410_1494917463_o 15682358_1153665294671076_1802395348_o

My brother agrees that it’s pretty neat and practical!

15658833_1153665278004411_347391761_o <– but a little too tall (he’s 6’4″)


Material Exploration: Leather and Imitation Leather


For my project I wanted to explore using leather and leather-imitation fabrics in sewing projects so I can get some experience working with them and learning different techniques based on the needs of the material.

15182468_1121424351228504_2052205303_o 15183907_1121424304561842_457461420_o 15183910_1121424261228513_533473967_o 15204176_1121424291228510_1212062130_o 15215901_1121424277895178_382458621_o 15215829_1121424617895144_1577328353_o

I tried brown and blue vinyl (top left and bottom right, respectively), real cattle leather (top middle and bottom left), conductive fabric (top right), and imitation leather (bottom middle)


111 15145147_1121424567895149_1888518074_o 15184108_1121424341228505_444796898_o 15204043_1121424314561841_927100213_o 15209092_1121424284561844_966582249_n

My first experiment was to make a “leather” glove that I could wear while using my phone. I drew out a pattern in the dark blue imitation leather (from Fabricland), then cut it out, leaving about a half inch to give some room when I flipped the garment inside out (because I hand-sewed it inverse). Before reversing it though, I sewed in a small patch of conductive fabric that would be pressed to the phone by my finger tip.

The fabric was VERY easy to hand sew – it’s a little stretchy but not so much that it affects the stitch at all. I tried sewing it on a home sewing machine (not industrial) but the stitches ripped through the entire fabric like I was cutting it with scissors. It was suggested that I change the size of my stitches to be longer but then the foot of the machine wouldn’t move over the fabric (kept sticking) so I had to layer tissue paper under the foot on top of the fabric so it could glide. Then, upon removing the tissue paper, the stitches ripped through the entire fabric again.

You can see the awesome stretch in the fabric when I make a fist, and though I wore it a little every day for a week, the only stitches that ripped were along the outer corner of my wrist.


14976017_1121424597895146_1157917435_o 15146709_1121424691228470_506735014_o 15152931_1121424581228481_66335681_o 15184028_1121424331228506_1759883053_o 15204273_1121424577895148_1949872909_o 15205814_1121424667895139_1999383819_o

This experiment was meant to examine making wearable pockets that I could keep things in (like batteries and electronic components) using a weird vinyl fabric that I bought in two colours, and experimenting with different sewing notions.

I bought the fabric from a store on Queen St W (this store had no name; I asked the owner), and the “leather” hook-and-eye thing from Fabricland. I started by making a small rectangle by sewing a small piece of the brown vinyl and a small piece of the blue vinyl together (front-to-front) and flipping it inside out. Then I sewed on each triangular pad from the notions and sized them so it would fit my wrist.

I like this experiment because it turned out clean and simple, and I learned more about hand-sewing techniques with vinyl and I think I’m going to use the pocket technique (without sewing all the way through with the notions, obviously) in one of my future projects


15152392_1121424671228472_1122981915_o 15215992_1121424294561843_1504483975_o

This one is still in progress; I laser-etched this cool square pattern on a piece of real leather (thanks again, Hillary!) when we took our field trip to STEAMLabs a couple weeks ago, and I talked to Lindy in the lab there about how I could turn it into a wallet. I think I’m going to use this leather for the outside of the wallet, and use the brown vinyl for the inside (because the real leather is way too thick to be used for the entire thing)

I used an industrial punch to poke holes in the leather, to practice what I’m going to need to do to sew the wallet together, but the piece was so thick that it took forever to get the remaining fabric out of the hole and it still looks pretty messy. I need to keep experimenting with this one, but hopefully I’ll have it finished for class next week – will update this post when it’s done!

Wearing Light – Fibre Optic Boots

For my project I was inspired to make something that I could use everyday, like an accessory rather than a garment (which you would have to wash before wearing twice). I decided to alter a pair of boots that I got from Salvation Army, because I could make them a flashy addition to club nights and parties.

I got a pair of boots with a sort of legwarmer attached, which was perfect for concealing the electronic components of my project. I assembled the piece by first creating a bundle of fibre optic cable (recovered from an old wand toy), then affixing it to a 5mm super bright white LED using black heatshrink tubing. I chose black tubing so no ambient light would slip through the legwarmer fabric of the boot. I then sewed the LED to a coin cell battery holder and created a switch for my circuit using metal sewing snaps. Then I fanned out the fibre optic cable and sewed bundles of 5-10 strands around the boot in a fan pattern, securing the end of each bundle with a drop of hot glue, which also serves to spread the light coming from the end of each strand.

Materials / Parts List

Pair of boots: Salvation Army

5mm Super Bright White LED: Creatron LEDTU-590013

Fibre optic cable: toy, Chinatown

Black 5mm heatshrink tubing: Creatron HEATT-039353

Hot glue

Black sewing thread

Conductive thread: Creatron LILYP-010867

20mm coin cell battery: Creatron BATTG-202500

20mm cell battery holder: Creatron LILYB-008822

Metal sewing snaps: Michael’s

Circuit Diagram


^^ pretty simple! just a battery, switch, and LED

Process Pictures


^^ this shows the bundle of fibre optic cable held to the LED with heat shrink tubing, which I heated up with my space heater (shown). In my first iteration I used a hair dryer to heat it up, but it was such direct heat that it warped all the fibre optics too


^^ this is still my first iteration, when I was working with the warped fibre optic cables still (I wanted to make sure it worked before starting again with newer ones). This iteration finally killed itself when the negative arm of the LED broke off


^^ this is a near-finished version of my first iteration, when I used single strands of fibre optic cable instead of small bundles. The light didn’t really show up that well though so I decided to use the bundles with a blob of hot glue to really amplify it

Final Pictures

final1 final2 final3

final4 final5


Social Switches – Lock Box

The biggest concern for me with this project was creating a piece that people would actually be comfortable using, and that would be practical. Most of my ideas in the beginning were really basic touch circuits but I wasn’t really happy with them because it seemed like that would just be another impractical project that I make and then never touch again.

Because of this, I decided to build a small wooden box with a circuit engraved on top. Inlaid into the circuit groves are my electronic components (wires and a red 5mm LED), which are connected to 4.5V worth of AA batteries (3 x 1.5V each) and a small solenoid inside the box. The solenoid, when current isn’t running through it, holds the box closed by keeping its “arm” extended through a metal hook attached to the roof.

I also built three metal rings; one is a plain metal ring, one has a 3V cell battery attached to the top (so the top of the ring is positive and the ring itself becomes negative), and one is a plain metal ring that’s been cut in half and put back together with resin so the two halves don’t touch. This way, each “arm” of the ring can have its own charge.

CONTEXT: You and your two closest allies are running a small cash-based business. You keep all of your cash in the box, which should only ever be opened in the presence of all three of you. Each of you has a ring. When you come together, you each remove your ring and place it in its respective grove on the top of the box, connecting the circuit and sending voltage to the solenoid inside, which snaps back and allows the box to be opened.

Materials List

20mm 3V battery: BATTG-102500 (Creatron)

Duracell AA battery 4-pack: BATTA-154044 (Creatron)

AA x 3 cell battery enclosure: BATTH-010891 (Creatron)

Particle board

Cherry red wood stain

Cherry red wood finish

Metal hinges

Metal rivets

16g steel tubing

5V mini solenoid: USOLE-511015 (Creatron)



5mm red LED: LEDTU-520003

Wood glue

Hot glue

Photos of the Final Work

14803186_1096613917042881_359046567_o 14808023_1096613913709548_408144476_o



I forgot to take photos of my process but I thought it would be useful to describe what I did step-by-step.

  1. Constructed box of particleboard (attaching the hinges was the last step though, to keep the two halves easy to work with)
  2. Troubleshooted circuit (the current I needed for my solenoid wasn’t being achieved with the coin cell battery so I needed to add 3 x AA batteries and make sure everything still worked)
  3. Made rings by cutting slices from a steel tube, then attaching a coin cell battery to one (using hot glue) and splitting the other with resin
  4. Engraved circuit on the top of the box, drilling holes for the circuit to connect to the battery pack and solenoid inside
  5. Stained and applied finish to the box and circuit
  6. Inlaid wires; this was tricky because I needed to strip them to the exact length but the stranded core wire kept breaking up
  7. Attached hook to the roof of the box, lined up with the solenoid so as to keep the box locked while the current is closed
  8. Attached hinges to the back of the box


Circuit Diagram


note* the three switches represent each of the three metal rings, and that weird thing on the bottom left is a solenoid

Beautiful Circuit – Madi

I was motivated in part to do my project after reading about an autistic boy in a school in the US who was bullied for his inability to read body language of his peers, which is a common issue for people with developmental disorders. I wanted to create a shirt that would be able to communicate basic emotions based on the wearer’s body language, which would press one of the soft switches in the shirt depending on their pose. I decided on three emotions to represent a positive state (“calm”), a negative state (“tense”), and something in the middle (“sassy”). I assigned each emotion a coloured LED (calm = green, sassy = yellow, tense = red), then sewed each in to the shirt in parallel connected to a battery holder running 6V. I had to work through a lot of different design models to find a way to route my conductive thread through all the components without shorting or looking too messy.

This is my circuit diagram:


where you can see my three LEDs, two resistors (the yellow LED was too faint for a resistor), and battery pack.

Parts List

10mm Super Bright LED – Green (LEDTT-108015)

10mm Super Bright LED – Yellow (LEDTT-108014)

10mm Super Bright LED – Red (LEDTT-108012)

CR2025 Coin Cell Battery (BATTG-202500) x 2

20mm Sewable Coin Cell Battery Holder (LILYB-008822)

Conductive Thread (LILYP-010867)

Conductive Fabric (LILFB-001220)

Neoprene Fabric

Black T-Shirt

In-Progress Pics

1 2

I started by embroidering the words and connecting the negative sides of the LEDs to the battery pack on the back of the shirt

3 4

Then I sewed in the soft switches, made with conductive fabric on either side of a thick neoprene fabric with a hole cut out


This is the illustration of how my circuit ended up laid out on my shirt

6 7

Finished work!