Each year, since 2008, we host an ugly sweater and white elephant gift exchange party with our friends. This year was a blast and we had a lot of fun and plenty of food and drink. Even though there was no contest attached to the ugly sweater this year (a contest that I lost every time), I decided to go the extra mile and breakout the wearable, hoping to get an edge. I went classic with the Flora board – think of it as an Arduino-like board with holes you can use to saw it to your cloth. I also used an accelerometer and a bunch of neo-pixels from Adafruit. Everything went pretty smooth until I reached the installation phase. I planned to saw the entire system (board, sensor, battery, and neo-pixels) using an ordinary thread and silver-based thread to establish the power and control buses. It is true that I am not talented when it comes to sawing, so I tried hard for a few hours before giving up.

To my discharge, I was sawing on a tank top, and even with an embroidering ring, I never got the right tension in the cloth. In addition, the silver thread is really stiff (but good quality). So I used the ordinary thread to attach the board, create a little pouch for the battery. The neo-pixels didn’t need any special fixation, because the edge of the PCBs – when I’ve them punched-out of their frame – had enough grip to stick to the tank top (so no hot glue for them!). Because I’ve planned to wear the tank top under my sweater and let the neo-pixels glow sparkle subtlety thru, I decided to use wire wrapping.

After the party, I can report that it worded-out really well! Among the other learning, I can share that going for the heavier 1200 mAh battery was wise (it ran out of power right at the end of the party). Other good learning: do not expect that everything will nicely stay in place. No, really, everything will be on the move. So plan for it. If you wonder if I managed to get the edge I was hoping for, the answer is no. The reason: don’t do subtle for this kind of event. When the first friend arrived with a roll of Xmas lights around his neck, I knew that I lost again 🙂