Prototyping Wearable Utility (part 3)

Over the past two weeks I have been building several smaller parts of the utility harness. I imagine the entire piece being a modular system that can attach and detach based on the wearer's needs. I plan to rebuild all the smaller pieces in a way that fits into the overall design.

Fabric Breadboard

When I first discovered soft circuitry through a long series of internet searches, I came across this image of a fabric breadboard by Plusea. It really stuck with me because it embodied what I was looking to do with electronics. I could use my skills of sewing and crafting to make my own circuits. Physical computing was not limited to hard materials like metal and plastic and glass.

Fabric Breadboard

Fabric breadboard and pin cushion by Plusea

In another project, Plusea made a wearable breadboard using a mini breadboard that she attached to a wristband.

Wearable Breadboard

Wearable breadboard by Plusea

For this project I want to include a breadboard into the harness. I think it should be detachable, but I also really like the idea of wearing around a prototype. When I am prototyping a project I usually end up traveling with it to home and school. I get worried that it will get damaged in travel. I like the idea of wearing it to show off my progress, but also to keep it safe and close to me.

My fabric breadboard with attached battery holder

This week I made my own fabric breadboard. I used conductive fabric with iron-on backing. I also attached a battery holder so it would work as soon as you plugged it in. I hand-embroidered the power and ground symbols corresponding to the battery.

I really love the simplicity of this board, but I think I could get even simpler. It definitely doesn't need to resemble a regular plastic breadboard. In my next design I want to get a little more creative with the shape and consider how to add alligator clips. I imagine this would snap on to one of the shoulder straps.

Needle Book

As my first solo leather working project I made a small leather needle book. I bought some scraps to practice with from Global Leathers. I modeled the book loosely after one I had seen by Merchant & Mills. I decided to add a snap closure and some slots for other notions.

My leather needle book

My leather needle book fully stocked

The slots I added for needle threaders and a seam ripper

During this process I realized that I would need to buy at least a few more leather tools to make the stitching and cutting neater. (Which also means I will eventually need to make them their own case.) I also realized the snaps I bought were much larger than I needed, and they required a lot of hammering. Choosing the correct hardware is a whole new design challenge.

In the next iterations I want to add more "pages" for needles. I have several types of needles (embroidery, bookbinding, leather, and darning), and it would be nice to have them organized. Aside from needles I think this is a good place to store other small notions such as needle threaders, a seam ripper, tweezers, embroidery scissors, and safety pins. The slots that I used were not a great design. They keep the back from laying flat, which is important for when I attach it to the garment. They are also not super easy to use and the needle threaders get bent an. I am actually thinking of designing my own needle threader that is more durable, but maybe not before the end of the semester. I would also like to make it with thinner leather so it would have less body.

Knitting Needle Case

For this project I am also considering how to carry knitting needles. I had originally envisioned something like a quiver for archery that hangs on the back. The trouble was that it's difficult to pick specific needles, and the needles could fall out when the wearer bends over. I still found images of quivers very inspiring.

Multifunctional Quiver by MadeOfLeather on Etsy

I decided instead to look make a tool roll. I think it makes sense that the wearer doesn't need all their needles immediately available. The roll will attach onto the harness so the wearer can easily unclip it, but they won't have to blindly reach back for needles.

Needle case by OtterburnPQ and tool roll by Sweet Juniper Wood Craft

I started by laying my knitting needles out on a piece of fabric and measuring out all the spaces they need. I left a few extra spaces and room for a pocket.

I made a small paper model that allowed me to figure out the best seams and construction before I moved to fabric.

I used a mid-weight linen for the exterior and lined the inside so the needles would be less likely to stab through the fabric. This is not something I'm too worried about with leather.

I used some velcro as a closure on a small pocket for stitch markers and other small notions. For the leather version I'm thinking about a flap that snaps shut. To hold the roll closed I added a small piece of rope, but for future iterations I would like to add buckles or snaps. I think I would have two closures instead of one.