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Diana Eng (best known from her season on Project Runway and her book Fashion Geek: Clothes Accessories Tech) is our current guest contributor, covering ham radio for Make: Online. In this Make: Project, Diana adds a little fashion frill to a standard piece of ham radio gear, the Morse code key. – Gareth Branwyn


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I am just starting to learn Morse code and got a brand new key from American Morse Equipment. Most keys need to be mounted to hold them in place while the operator is dah-dit-ing. Keys are mounted on a heavy platform, or fastened to a radio. And some keys are worn on a leg strap. As a lady operator, and fashion designer, I wanted something cuter to keep my key on my leg, so here it is — how to turn a standard leg strap into a cute Morse code key leg strap.

cutekeylegstrapexample.jpg

Materials:
* 1 yd 2″ wide satin ribbon
* 1 yd 3/8″ wide patterned ribbon
* 1 yd 3″ wide lace
* 2 spools of thread (to match patterned ribbon and lace)
* scissors
* a small amount of tulle (an 8″ x 8″ square will work just fine)
* a small amount of organza
* pins
* screw driver
* measuring tape

* key
* leg strap

1. Using the measuring tape, measure around your leg where you’d like to wear the strap. Subtract ½” from this measurement and cut the lace and patterned ribbon to this length.

2. Using a sewing machine, straight stitch the edge of the ribbon 1 1/8″ in from the edge of the lace.

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3. Fold the lace along the stitched edge of the patterned ribbon. Fold the satin ribbon in half and sandwich it inside of the folded lace so that they overlap by ¾”.

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4. Using the sewing machine, zigzag stitch the edge of the lace to the ribbon. Start by forward stitching across the width of the ribbon. When you get to the edge, back stitch across the entire width. Then forward stitch across the entire width. You will have stitched over the same place three times to securely hold the ribbon in place.

5. Repeat step 4 ½” away from the first row of zigzag stitches so that you will have two rows of stitches.

6. Cut away excess ribbon and lace so that the strap will be nice and neat.

7. Using the sewing machine, straight stitch the unsewn edge of the patterned ribbon.

cutekeylegstrapstep7.jpg

8. Using the flower pattern, cut along the gray line. Cut 4 flowers from the tulle and 2 flowers from the organza.

9. Layer the flower pieces: two tulle on the bottom, one organza, two tulle, and one organza on the top.

10. Most leg straps have a separate plate or piece which the strap feeds through that connects to the key, often by a screw. The fabric flower will go between this plate/piece and the key. Place the fabric flower on the plate/piece and make a hole in the flower for the screw to fit through. Then screw the key in place on top of the flower and plate/piece.

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11. Thread the ribbon into the plate/piece, and strap your key on your leg tying the ribbon at the side.

cutekeylegstrapfinished.jpg

dianaeng

Fashion + Technology
Diana was a contestant on Project Runway season 2, graduated from RISD, and currently lives in New York City.


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Comments

  1. Ruthie says:

    As someone who has had Ham Radio in her life for almost the whole 52 years, and who loves CW (and also enjoys sewing), this was a real, FUN surprise to see! Whether I’ll make it or not, that’s another story but I could only imagine the looks I’d get on the interstates from the truck drivers whizzing by my car while I was wearing and using something like this ;-)

    The OM and myself have been enjoying Make online for some time now. Thank you thank you.

    73,
    Ruthie K2ZQ

  2. Mike Ki6H says:

    FB on the CW for YL’s. Great article & thanks for bringing a little verve to hamming.

    I brought my CW up to around 16 wpm for random groups & 20 wpm for plain language by using Fabian DJ1YFK’s free online trainer at http://www.lcwo.net and Simon AA9PW’s free Morse Code Practice Page ataa9pw.com/morsecode/

    73 es gud DXing,

    Mike Ki6H

  3. Mike says:

    Pretty cool! Ran across this while hunting up pictures of different ways to mount a key while mobile! …I’ve been using the up/down buttons on my icom 706, but it’s torture! hi! Anyway very cool Make! I’ll prolly buy the key (they also sell a kit single lever paddle I think that is a bit bigger that I’ve been eyeing) but will hold off on the make, haha :>

    Mike de W5NIG

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