Addressable LEDs strips are a great and easy way to add complex multicolor light effects to any sort of object. Inspired by skirt projects from Make: authors Debra Ansell and Becky Stern, this project integrates 120 LEDs into a skirt while aiming to make it both as shiny and as wearable as possible. The LEDs are installed only at the front of the skirt to allow the wearer to sit down or use the restroom without potentially breaking the electronics. The LEDs and cables are completely removable for washing.
The sewing was done by my wonderful girlfriend, Sabine. She has been sewing her skirts and dresses for decades now and creating her own sewing patterns. But the LED integration can be adapted to many other patterns, and we’ve added some tips for sewing your own. For this you’ll need some experience in sewing and pattern construction.
But you can also add these LEDs to an existing skirt — maybe one you don’t wear anymore — and add a semi-transparent fabric on top to get the same diffusion effect.
All electronics are hidden either in the skirt or in a pocket at the back, so the skirt appears as normal as possible when the LEDs are switched off. By adding a 6-axis accelerometer/gyroscope, we can trigger effects by movement or rotation in any direction, so there are many options to add unique lighting patterns to the LEDs in the future.
Building this skirt will teach you the usage of addressable LEDs in a simple matrix arrangement (6×20), and you will get a lot of attention wearing it. This is especially the case in school environments (e.g., for STEM teachers) to motivate kids doing LED projects and coding.
Uploading new code to the microcontroller is very easy, so you can continue to learn and improve your coding skills by adding new light effects.