Smart Fashion

Shoulder Pad Diagram and Sample Code

Mandy Gordon


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.

In Action

Saeed Arida


Max Ingersoll

Project Description

Grace Bucking

Fashion has always been a strong form of expression, and it is a tool people often use to show off their personality. This studio is meant to take this concept even further. With modern technology, fashion has become even more of a way to put ideas into the world in unconventional forms. There is an opposite side to this also, which is the idea of fashion reflecting what is happening around it, instead of behind it. Our goal for this project was to make an outfit that somehow responds to the environment around it. This, in addition to using and learning about design, electronics, and programming, is the main problem this studio is based around and trying to solve. 

Our group decided to take on this challenge by creating a garment that responded to audio. The concept of sound was intriguing to us, especially because we also liked the design aspect of actual soundwaves. Sound is ubiquitous, and it impacts many elements in it’s environment. We went with this idea and designed a dress with a soundwave pattern on the skirt that lights up from underneath according to how loud the room is. With proper programming, it is possible to make LED lights react to the volume or frequency around them.

We started making the dress by brainstorming first. We came up with ideas on what we wanted our design to accomplish and the physical appearance of it. After we had a solid idea for our project, we then moved on to prototyping. Prototyping consisted of a lot of trial and error in creating our final piece which helped us to make the best finishing product as possible. We went to goodwill to get fabric to practice our techniques on to test them out to make sure we knew what would work and what could be improved by using different things.

As a result of our prototype, we discovered the most effective and best ways to make our dress. For example, we had an issue with fraying on our skirt. The prototype gave us the opportunity to test out different strategies and methods to keep the fraying at a minimum. We started by making patterns, then sewing, and then putting all of the pieces together while adding the finishing touches. 
In conclusion, this studio was very enjoyable and interesting. We learned a lot about the fashion industry and how difficult it is to make an exceptional dress on a time limit.


Max Ingersoll
The inspiration for our outfit was Tron and Iron Man. The reason we were inspired by these suits is purely because they look cool, futuristc and unique. Nobody ever sees someone wear a real Tron or Iron man suit on the street so we decided to build one of the world's first street-worthy Supersuit!

Our task was to design and create a garment which incorporates technology into fashion. We used a combination of fiber optics and LED lights within our suit. We made something that is called an infinity mirror by having an LED strip in the middle of two mirrors, one of which is only visible from the outside. The infinity mirror is placed on the center of the chest like Ironman. The final feature is the backpack. The backpack is made of three clear cylindrical containers that hold glowing tonic water. The water glows by illuminating the liquid with blacklights that are hidden above the cylinders.

The first thing that we did when designing the suit was acquire fabric that would act as a working prototype. We went to Goodwill, a local thrift store, and bought a jacket that fit one of our teammates, Graeme, and that was made of a material onto which we could sew fiber optics. Then, once we tailored the jacket to the right fit, we started to sew the fiber optics based on the pattern we had designed. The fiber optics were then attached to an LED strip and programmed to light up and switch colors. We then stitched the fiber optics to a spandex material thinking that spandex would look more like a tron suit, but in reality it was too hard to sew on to the spandex and we had to switch to a non-stretchy sweater material. For the infinity mirror, we found a template online that we could laser-cut from clear acrylic and assemble to make an iris mechanism that would open and close with servos to reveal the infinity mirror. The backpack was designed in Sketchup, then laser cut into separate parts, and then assembled once cut. The tonic water was put inside the assembled piece near the very end, and the backpack and iris mechanism with the infinity mirror were attached at the very end of the process.

We discovered that our final project looked futuristic and technologically advanced, and we had mostly achieved what we were hoping to create for the Tron/Ironman superhero suit, but it was uncomfortable and a little bulky!

Although we did not entirely finish the project, the final product was impressive with all of the technology components included in the suit and made within a two week studio.

Galaxy Overview

Mandy Gordon

The Smarter Fashion studio had an end goal of creating professional looking garments that had technology incorporated into them. Emmy, Mandy and Kate's inspiration to create a pair of modern galaxy leggings came from the 80s and todays fashion world. There had a lot of brainstorming sessions, but our end decision was to make leggings that were galaxy print and that had light up stars, and a shirt made entirely of black pyramids.  In addition to this, the shirt would have two larger sized pyramids as shoulder pads, and these would open and close to reveal a laser star projection.

This studio allowed the team to use high fashion and technology all together. None of the team was familiar with the computer programs that enabled leggings to light up, or the shoulder pads to open. This was a problem that affected the entire group, but with the help of their coach, Sean, learning about the technology was more interesting that any of them could imagine.

Emmy focused mainly on the technical side of our project, and Kate worked mostly on the leggings. Lastly Mandy created the shirt for this outfit. We encountered many problems throughout the process. For example, it was hard getting the shoulder pads to open up exactly at the right angle while projecting the laser. Also, weaving the LED's through the leggings and hand sewing the pyramids on were difficult. We had to think of many different ways to overcome these obstacles in order for the project to work.

The audience’s reaction to the outfit was really good, and when the shoulder pads opened there was a lot of 'ooing’ and ‘aahing'. Overall, the team had a really great time in this studio and discovered some of their unlikely strengths!


The Future - Final Product

Sydney Allen

For this studio, Smart Fashion, we looked at creative ways to incorporate technology with fashion. We all believe that as new forms of technology are invented, technology will become more prevalent in fashion.

Our group decided to make a very fashionable skirt, shirt and clutch that all lit up with LEDs and fiber optics. The two biggest tasks we faced were designing the actual clothing from scratch and programming the lights. GoodWill was a resource we used to get fabric to experiment with. After making a prototype of the skirt using an older skirt from GoodWill, we decided to use this as our actual model because it came out very well. We ended up adding onto this original skirt and using it for our final product. The prototype was made for an underlayer of stiff material to hold the LED lights. Once we finished hemming and sizing the underlayer and sewing on LED lights to the rim of the skirt we added tulle. This added more volume and shape to the skirt. Next, we wanted to cover the tulle with a transparent black fabric for a more high fashion look. Finally we added a purple trim around the waist with a big bow on the back for a cleaner and more attractive look.

We used an arduino chip to program our skirt. Using various codes, the skirt was programmed to light up. In the end, the lights that we programmed changed colors based on the sound responsive microphone chip on the back of the skirt. We programmed the lights to fluxuate colors based on the decibels around the microphone. The microphone was based off of the clutch purse that was created after the skirt. The clutch had two speakers in it and produced sound at a high volume. We laser cut all the material for the clutch. When the clutch was turned on, it played music causing the skirt to light up in tune with the rhythm of the song.

In the end the project turned out very well. We were all very happy with our final result, and we enjoyed displaying our work in the final fashion show.As time goes on, we are all excited to see how technology is going to play a bigger role in fashion. At the Grammys, Carrie Underwood wore a dress that was programmed similarly to ours. It was exciting to see that our theory of technology beginning to play a bigger role is really coming true.

The ZT Backpack

Zach Rosenberg

Winter 2012- Session 1/4

The ZT Backpack was a two-week project done by Tyler Monaghan, Zachary Rosenberg, and Zachary Steinberg. The aim of the project was to make an innovative fashion piece that teenagers would have an interest in. Most backpacks these days have nothing new but the shape; thus, the team wanted to make one that stood above the rest.

While many of the other teams constructed basic clothing like dresses and jackets, this group wanted to design a functioning accessory that was not as easily constructed. The ZT Backpack consists of three main parts; built-in speakers, audio responsive LED lights, and voice recognition software. The voice recognition tool lets you orally change music and make calls using an iPhone plugged into the bag. All sound and music will be played throughout the three speakers and the LEDs will light up accordingly with the music. A device called an Arduino board controlled all of the components and allowed them to function. 

Each member split into their own section when it was time to build the backpack. Monaghan had the job of assembling the electronics and soldering the LEDs. Rosenberg assembled the backpack by assembling fabric and accessories after a number of prototypes, and Steinberg programmed the Arduino.

As part of the project, the crew had the idea to install LED blinker lights, as seen on automobiles, into the sides of the bag. Part of the reaction the team realized after their presentation was that the blinkers were one of the most interesting components to the audience. The crowd was astounded by the innovative idea to make activities like walking and biking more safe and enjoyable.

The team was very happy with their work on the project and they plan to think of new ideas to possibly incorporate in the future. There may even be commercial opportunities for the product as the group learned after giving their final presentation to a group of students, faculty and parents from the Beaver Country Day School.