Sunday, September 11, 2016

E-textiles and soft circuits for quilts and quilters

LEDs incorporated into the quilted
Paris Rendezvous fabric panel.
Have you heard of E-textiles? Textiles or fabrics with electronics sewn into them?

A lot of research and development has been devoted to this topic in the science and medical fields and in the last few years it's moved into fashion and the performance arts. Now here is an example of electronics and soft circuits in a quilt! (I'm thinking about developing a class, so leave a comment if you're interested.)

This is the Paris Rendezvous fabric panel that was featured in this post. The "special embellishment" that I planned for this quilt is the incorporation of LEDs (light-emitting diodes). Can you see the white lights on the Eiffel Tower?

I had some peripheral exposure to e-textiles over the past few years and picked up a book on the topic, but had to make myself sit down and do hands-on experimenting with the technology to get my head wrapped around it. A shout out and thank you to my friend, the talented felting and weaving artist and instructor Geri Forkner, for the introductory tutorial this summer. I couldn't have gotten a better jump start into this amazing technology without her guidance and assistance. (Thank you again, Geri!)

Sparing you the tech babble about Ohm's Law, microcontrollers and circuits, I'll just offer a few off/on pictures of the LEDs on the Paris Rendezvous quilt. The lights are better seen in twilight or darkness, but hopefully the side-by-side photos will help.
Paris Rendezvous with LEDs off (left) and on (right).
There are three circuits on this piece—one for the tower lights and two others for the roses on each side. They all connect to a battery.
Paris Rendezvous with yellow and red LEDs in the roses: lights off (left) and on (right).
Can you find the two LEDs in the flowers below?
Paris Rendezvous with red LEDs in the roses: lights off (left) and on (right).
I am surprised that some of the terminology from a semester of basic electronics in undergrad school came back to me. (The printing and graphic arts program was under the College of Engineering at NIU, so I and my fellow printing majors were required to take the Intro Electronics class.) Dr. Hamm would be so pleased.

So what do you think? Electronics in quilts? Anyone interested in a class? Leave me a Comment with your thoughts and ideas. Thanks!
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