Grace Bucking

Smart Fashion was my first studio at NuVu. My teammates were Charlie and Grace. We worked together to make a sound activated dress, with mirror pieces to reflect like a disco ball. We wanted the dress to be cool and high tech, but also simple and wearable for every day use.  Our goal was to have a sound wave pattern on the skirt that would light up and mirror pieces on the belt and shirt to reflect those lights. 

My coaches were amazing and helpful.  Tess taught us how to sew, refine our ideas, and helped us fabricate our design. Jacob and Sean helped us with the technical aspect of our dress; coding the Arduino, using the laser cutter, soldering, and with other out of the ordinary tasks.

First we planned and sketched out our design on paper.  We sketched the dress from many different angles and discussed what would work and what wouldn’t work.  After we were done planning and refining our ideas, we learned how to sew. To learn how to sew we made wristbands with magnets to hold our pins. It took me three tries to make a decent wristband that was the right size. 

Next we learned how to do some basic coding. We had a strip of LED, which we coded to make the lights rainbow in reaction to a dial we spun.  We learned about the Arduinos, and how to solder.

Next, we went to Good Will, and bought garments similar to our designs that we could use to prototype or modify, or just use for the fabric. We got a stiff skirt at Good Will, that we fitted to me just for practice sewing. Our sewing was so good though that we were able to use it for the bottom layer of our skirt.

Our team made a prototype of the outer skirt using butcher paper cut by the laser cutter. We did this to make sure our dimensions were correct, and so we knew what to expect. From our prototype we realized here were a few flaws in our sound wave. On Sketch Up, the sound wave was too big in some places, and it didn’t connect all the way in other places.

Once we fixed these errors we made another prototype of the skirt on butcher paper, then made a prototype of the skirt with the fabric we would be using. The fabric was black canvas, the same that we cut the sound wave out of. We used a piece of sheer black fabric behind this using using iron-on adhesive.  We noticed some of the tips of the sound wave started to peel off, so we went over each sound wave from the back with fabric glue called Fray Away.

Next, as a team, we prototyped the lights. We had a simple strip of LED lights that we used, but we found that when we put the skirt over them you could see each individual light, and we wanted the lights to be more defused. We started to experiment with layers that would go in between the lights and the final layer of the skirt. This worked, but we found that to get the effect we wanted we had to have a piece of plastic about an inch around on top off each light. 

Next we started making our final skirt. This didn’t take much time because we new exactly what to do and we had been careful and learned so much from our prototyping. We cut out the skirt on the laser cutter, put the sheer behind it, and went at it with Fray Away 

Simultaneously, we started sewing the LED’s on to the base skirt from Good Will.  After the lights were sewn on, we still were not getting the diffused effect we wanted, so we cut out small one inch pieces of felt, and stacked them together on the back of the plastic, then stuffed them in between with sheer. This gave the lights more more physical space to diffuse properly. With the plastic added to diffuse the lights, I couldn’t move in the dress, so we cut the plastic in strips and sewed each on individually.

Problems occurred when we tried to put the sound wave over skirt on the base skirt. With the extra inch that was added with the plastic and felt, the over skirt was too small to go over the under skirt.

We solved this by cutting the sides of the over skirt, and adding black canvas to the sides, making the over skirt big enough. This was actually a happy mistake because it made the skirt poof out in a really cute way, and there was more than enough room for the underskirt.

Our team also had a few programming glitches. When we first programmed the sound activated lights, they would only work when it was loud. Once it got quiet the sound wouldn’t work. We managed to fix that problem with the help of our fabulous couches.

We were also originally going to have a belt buckle on the belt that would move, but because we ran out of time our team had to compromise this idea. The prototype we had made of it was too bulky for the dress.

Overall, we were pretty good with managing our time. Some things took much longer than we expected, like sewing mirrors on the complementary shirt.  The belt buckle also took too much time, so we had to scrap it.  As a team we felt we were able to portray our main design, just as we were hoping for.

The presentation at Beaver Country Day School went as expected. Our dress worked just as we planned it with no last minute problems, which was good. I think our dress really looked good during the presentation, and we explained ourselves well.  I was proud that we could make such a finished product so quickly with none of us having previous experience.