I’VE BEEN A GEEK SINCE EARLY DAYS OF THE AFTERSCHOOL COMPUTER CLUB*, I WANTED TO MERGE MY LOVE OF FASHION & DESIGN WITH MY PASSION FOR TECHNOLOGY.
(I’m shouting aren’t I?)
Here’s a blurb about me.
I’ve been a teacher for many years and decided to leave to be able to try something new, which turned out to be going back to study. For the last few years, I’ve been a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University of London and am in the Cognitive Science research group (information on my research interests if you’re interested). It was at QMUL that I started working with Arduino and components. I’m pretty sure it’s bordering on an addiction, and looking around my house might confirm this by a number of tools, solder, wires, boards… all organized of course!
It is one of those things though, that maybe you find yourself holding back or thinking it’s hard, or too hard to start, but as with most things, we spend too much time thinking about it, too much time making excuses about it. I knew I needed to dive in because I made a commitment, and so I followed the tutorials (and had classes at Uni) and of course, having a deadline motivates a person… but I want to show others how much damn fun this is, and how getting started is the beginning, and it doesn’t take a lot of investment, the time/money (you can buy cheap components from a variety of sites, I’ve written a post about where to get them on a budget) are totally in your control.
I’m now working on finding a way to work in the field of teaching, as I love it so much, but also I need the creativity, hardware, software and making in general. I want to find a way to mix these passions together. I’m hoping if I am able to motivate others to begin making too then it will have been a great choice.
I’ve since been working on making some handbags that have RFID readers in them to track a set of items. I do this through ilyware.com
This Information about ilyware is on that site but I’ve put it here as it explains a bit about what I do.
I feel so lucky to be doing what I love and this mix of fashion and technology means…..
- I shop for & buy awesome 1950s handbags
- ditto with amazing fabrics 🙂
- research online for amazing electrical components and think of ways to use them with handbags / various bags
- it’s not visible, but I program the circuit boards that are embedded
- solder components
- and then I plan how the components will fit & sew the bags
- Researching beautiful packaging & materials & smells
Every bag I make I’d like to keep for myself – and actually, that’s my test of when the bag is ready!
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MY PROCESS…
I live in the beautiful city of York, UK (I am from Winnipeg, Canada) and for me, I like to spend a lot of time searching for the right bag to modify. I get to walk down the lovely cobbled streets, where the colours themselves are inspirational, looking for wonderful materials and bags. To start with – they have to have good interiors, I want a bag that I would be happy to put my own items into. Then I look at different materials that they can be made out of, particularly I like the bags that have a really nice solid shell, and are made from leather so they are typically classic/vintage bags. I really need to find the right bag first before I can modify it.
I love to spend time thinking of creating the surface area that I will be sewing the components to. The components are sewn on with thin 3 core wire and so this does affect the material choices available to me. I also like to think of the colours of lights I might put on the bag and how they will work together.
For the bags that have circuit boards, I also have to program them. This involves hooking up the boards to my computer and using software, I plan what the board will be doing. I then write the code, check for errors – I do this a lot – and then I upload it to the board.
This can take a while especially if it is a new feature or function of the bag. Everything needs testing before it’s sewn so I have a lot of funky crocodile clips to hand as well as prototyping boards!
PROGRAMMING & PATTERNS
When it’s all planned out and programmed, I map out the bag area where the pockets will go and make the pattern. These are typically done with several pieces of fabric and I always love making the inside of the pocket with a beautiful piece of fabric. I know that this really will only be seen by you and me but I always think of it as a nice bit of luxury.
Once the materials are sewn, and then the components are sewn in, I then hook it up to the battery pack and be sure it’s all working as it should. Every time I do this I get a little buzz of how pleased I am when I see a bag working. I’ll never tire of that.
The bags are then photographed and I plan the packaging as much as I can, it may be a gift so I’ll add a hand written card too if you’d like.
The bags are always noticed when out and about, and they are a real treasure to make.
* thanks to Mr Mousseau & my Uncle John who inspired my love of computers.