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Chic Cyclist Outfit!

Reimagining Bicycle Safety Gear | Projects

  • Our goal throughout the studio was to create fashionable bike safety gear that would look normal during the day and would glow at night.  We made two products: a pair of snap-up, reflective and glow-in-the-dark pants, and a belt with LED lights.  The pants were snap-up so bicyclists could roll up their pant legs when biking to keep their pants clean and keep cool.  Additionally, the shortened length acted as a safety feature and revealed the reflective material.

    To make the LED belt, we used a sheer, white material, a black, lacy material, and a black, canvas-like material.  We chose these fabrics because they allowed the LED lights to shine through when turned on and they hid the LED lights when powered off.  The LED belt uses a rechargeable battery that is easily accessible.  

  • From the start, Molly and I knew that we wanted to make snap up reflective pants. We made an initial sketch, and then started to test materials. We tested different reflective paints, fabrics, and beads and glow in the dark materials.  Molly and I were searching for the brightest glow possible.

    We chose the orange reflective fabric to sew into the jeans.  To do this, we had to open up the seams of the pants.  After the fabric was sewed in, we closed the pants.  Then, we tried to attach snaps.  The snap tool was not long enough to reach where we wanted to place the snaps.  Therefore, Molly and I had to open and close the pants again.  Once the snaps were attached, they did not look natural on the jeans.  Their silver color really stood out, so we spray painted the snaps blue.

    Then, we spray painted the pants with the reflective spray.  We could see that the spray was reflective by how the pants shined in pictures with flash.  However, when we first tested the pants at home, we did not get good results.  The fault was with our testing; we tested the pants too close to headlights, and we did not have someone looking at the pants from the driver's point of view.  The next night, our coach Tess confirmed that the pants did reflect light.  

    We also added glow in the dark features to the pants (so the pants glow even when light is not shining on them).  One glowing feature is our logo.  We designed the logo on Sketchup, and we printed a stencil of it on the laser cutter.

    After the pants were finished, Molly and I decided to make a belt with LED lights.  The first step was picking materials that hid the lights during the day, but allowed the lights to shine through when powered on.  We chose a sheer, white material, a black, lacy material, and a black, canvas-like material.  Next, we had to sew these materials together and add the LED’s.  We wanted the lights to be placed in a polka dot pattern, but that could not be done because the wiring would have been too difficult for the time that we had.  Therefore, we decided to use a LED strip.  We programmed the strip with an Arduino so that the pattern and colors of the lights were specific to our tastes.  We then had to sew the arduino into the LED strip and into the belt.  This proved to be a major challenge.  The orientation of the Arduino and the lights were wrong at first.  Once we figured out where to put them both, we had to connect them with conductive thread.  We had to be careful with the wiring; the holes in the Arduino were very close together, yet if two different pieces of the conductive thread that went through these holes touched, the circuit would short out.  We had to do this sewing job twice, because our first time was too messy; the circuit was not reliable.   

    To finish off the belt, we added three snaps in order to make the size adjustable.


  • If we could change one thing about the pants, it would be to have started with a different pair of jeans.  Since the jeans were skinny, we could not roll them up as high as we had hoped.  Also, they were hard to get off with the extra layer of fabric.  If we had more time on the project, we would make a do it yourself kit, or a "how to" guide to teach people how to make the pants.

    We're both really proud of the pants and belt.  Both look normal during the day, but they become reflective or lit up at night.  The pants look great, and they are functional.  The biggest thing we learned from making the pants was how to use a sewing machine.  Molly and I both had no prior experience with sewing, and now we feel comfortable with the machine.  Molly and I had also never used an Arduino.  We definitely learned a lot through this studio about both fashion and technology.