Making Wearable Tech: 4 Things to Know Before You Start
Making your own wearable electronics is a great way to create stunning outfits, cosplay, or runway-ready wearable art.
Before getting started with your design, here are 4 important things to think about ahead of time that will save you trouble and extra work down the road.
1: Controller Access
Depending on your design, you may have controllers, switches or an on/off button. Consider who will be wearing the outfit. If it’s something you plan on wearing yourself, make sure you can reach the controller without assistance.
Consider using a design that has an external remote control, so you can change the effects on-the-go. Our wearable tech kit offers a remote controlled LED system for this purpose.
Pixelman at a MakeFashion event. Source: MakeFashion
As anyone who has used electronics will know, even the most sophisticated technology can break down or have problems.
When designing your wearable tech, consider how you will access the inner workings if anything goes wrong. Make sure you have a way to check and repair all electronic components and connection points without having to take the entire thing apart. This can be addressed by having a zipper that conceals the electronics inside the garment, or by having alternating layers of fabric and technology components. It may be tempting to sew everything up and hide your electronics completely, but you’ll regret this decision the moment something goes wrong.
MakeFashion Edu students work on a wearable tech project. Source: MakeFashion Edu
3: Battery Placement
Most likely, the largest and bulkiest part of your garment is going to be the battery. Design your outfit with battery placement in mind. Having a pocket for batteries and electronics is a must, and ensure that it is easily accessible to turn on and off without having to reach into awkward places.
For more tips on battery placement, see my tutorial on battery placement here, or learn about choosing different types of batteries for wearables here.
Working on a FashionTech project with fairy lights. Source: MakeFashion
Unlike most outfits, wearable tech garments can’t be easily tossed in the washing machine. Wearables take time, money, and effort to create: so don’t waste your efforts with a garment that is going to get smelly and unhygenic.
The best way to make a garment washable is to design it with two layers: one layer that goes directly against the body (like a slip or lining) and the second layer that contains technology. You can also wear an off-the-shelf slip underneath your garment whenever you wear it, ensuring a long lasting (and nice smelling) garment.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own fashiontech creations!