Dress with Electronic Flapping Butterflies

Craft & Design

Alexander Reed made a dress with butterflies that flap to your heartbeat. He writes:

The butterflies are attached with magnetic snaps, which also supplies power. These snaps are modular; a flapping, extending or even sound making module could be attached. As the butterflies are removable, the dress can be worn with no butterflies, one or three. A small gear motor is used to drive the hand crafted flapping mechanism. The butterflies themselves are designed from five different living species. Each is laser cut from gold metallic linen. Besides flapping butterflies, an extending version is being developed, currently on its third revision. Each piece takes time to make sure it is durable, light and most importantly: does not sacrifice the form of the dress.

The Lilypad coordinates the dress, gathering data and controlling motors. The heartbeat belt, powered by a Polar board, wraps snuggly around the body, three electrodes listening to your pulse. The belt, Lilypad, and other electronics reside on an inner layer, hidden from view by two layers of light silk organza. Conductive thread connects the various components.. Two butterflies will flap continuously for over four hours – plenty of time for a night out. The battery snaps into place on a garment board. All non-washable parts are removable, so after a long night out the dress can be dry cleaned.

Alex is a student at NYU’s ITP program and has documented the creation of this garment very well at his site. Via Fashioning Technology.

From the Maker Shed:


Fashioning Technology by Syuzi Pakhchyan

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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