Final Project: Positivity Hat

Positivity Hat Documentation by Kai Zheng


Beginning this final project, I had the inspiration of EFT in mind. I recently went to a health and wellness workshop and was introduced to emotional freedom techniques or EFT. The psychologist got everyone to do tap on their heads, their faces, their chests, all the way to our forearms and hands. I found this process to be very interesting and it really got me inspired for my final talking fabrics project.

The main function of my project is that it’s meant to be a hat that when you touch when tapping, it will teach you how to say the positive, healthful comments to yourself. For example, these 3 phrases:

My Chinese is very good.


Even though [I expect others to validate me], I deeply and completely accept myself.


I will speak the truth to myself.


I recorded these phrases with audacity, converted everything to a .mp3 file, and uploaded all of that to the microSD card. This microSD card was then mounted to the MP3 shield, which Professor Antonius kindly lent out to me. I learned that shields were like hats that allowed the Arduino to have even more functionality. Once the shield was connected to Arduino, they could communicate with each other. However, I also had to put another hat/shield in between the Arduino and the MP3 shield because someone already soldered the holes into the MP3 shield.

Following all of the coding, which I have a screen video of here:


I had to transfer all of this onto an actual piece of fabric. That would be my hat. I made the hat earlier in the day. It looked like this:

Then, I sewed some reinforcements to get the Arduino to not slip off as easily. I also had to make 3 soft push buttons so that those would trigger the audio to play. I made the soft push buttons by cutting a hole in a piece of square shaped fabric. There would be two tails that had conductive thread sewn into them. And, that way, when those two tails touched, it would complete the circuit, and the code would recognize that trigger and play the corresponding track.



Final Version of my Positivity Hat:

Ultimately, I believed I learned a great deal in making my Positivity Hat. However, to improve in the future, I have two suggestions. 1) Make the hat more wearable, meaning, a better design for the fabric part of the hat. I could either come up with a bigger compartment to fit the Arduino and the battery, or move onto learning how to use a Lilypad. In either case, I would need to learn how a hat can be worn on a round head, because right now, it can sit on a flat table, which isn’t its intended purpose. 2) I would make the push buttons either more sensitive or more noticeably present so that people will know exactly what to push. I could experiment with another way to create a more obvious push button that didn’t need to be fiddled in the pull-up-then-down way.  All these suggestions are to make the hat more functional and improve the prototype.

Here are all the materials I used for my Positivity Hat:

Felt (any color)

Conductive thread

Regular thread


Conductive tape

Wires that go into the Arduino

Breadboard to prototype

Push buttons to prototype

Soldering supplies


Arduino hat to put in between the MP3 shield and Arduino

MP3 Shield

MicroSD card


External battery that could be plugged into an Arduino



Assignment 5: Tilt Remote Sensor Makes a Sound

In this group project, Angelina, Sarah, Arizona, and I made a tilt remote sensor with the Arduino that can play a sound corresponding to tone 640 when you pressed the remote and tilted your wrist. We attached both the Arduino and the remote to separate wristbands. The Arduino wristband was quite long, spanning with 3 wristbands because it included a condensed breadboard and a portable battery.


This is the code for the Arduino. From what I know, you could get a regular remote without the tilt sensor and press volume – and volume + to get different sounds. But, for the conventions of our tilt sensor wristband, we can only play one sound, which came from the volume – button.

In our breadboard, besides wires, we used a buzzer, a sensor, and although in the photo it shows the LED light and resistor, we later realized we did not need it and replaced it with wires. This was because we didn’t need any component of our Arduino to light up, it only needed to receive the tilt sensor from the remote and make the sound. The communication was an audio response to the sensor, and not a visual one.


We learned how to correspond the red wires to power and positive and the black wire to ground and negative. This differentiation helped us in the long run in knowing how the breadboard and Arduino worked. The sensor also had a red wire for power, a black wire for ground, and a yellow wire for the Infrared receiver. The buzzer was connected to digital pin 10, and the sensor was connected to digital pin 8. I realize that we didn’t need to connect anything to digital pin 11 after all, because we removed the LED light, but we still just added wires where the resistor and the LED light would be so that it would close and continue the circuit.

For a future project, we should use our time to make more sound with the Arduino, and also make it more compact. We tried transferring it to the lilypad this time, but somewhere along the lines, it didn’t seem to comply, so we reverted back to the Arduino. In the end, I think this was a successful group project, and I got much enjoyment out of working with my group.

Assignment 4: Microcontrollers

March 30, 2018

To begin our learning process, we had to figure out how to code with an Arduino, and incorporate an Arduino into our fabric. We were to create a social switch that would respond to a sensor. My partner, Phyllis, had a great idea to use an audio sensor. She built up the code, shown below.

From what I gather, I find that the void.setup is for a one time use, and void.loop is for a continuous use. And, the delay is 10 milliseconds. We used analogWrite so that the LED would light up according to the audio sensor.

I worked more through the design process, especially the fabric part. We had to brainstorm way to incorporate the microcontroller along with the audio sensor into fabric. At first, we imagined that a birthday cake would work because people would blow at the audio sensor, and the LED light would light up. However, in the end, we decided not to do this approach because having a fabric birthday cake really wasn’t that joyful, especially when you’d rather have a real birthday cake to eat.

Our second idea was to make a star badge that would light up when spoken to. The star badge would be worn on the left shoulder of the person, and whenever some would say something, it would light up.

This sort of switch, I think, is very creative, because just imagine if we had more of these badges and we were attending a concert, and all these LEDs would light up responding to different sounds. Therefore, to create more of these badges, no matter if it was stars or another object like a sun, would be the next step in this project.

Design Process:


Yellow felt

Blue felt

Double sided Fusible

Thread with corresponding colors (blue, yellow)

Arduino Uno


Portable Battery


Yellow LED light



220 Ohm Resistor

We made a prototype with the breadboard, and then transferred it onto fabric after soldering and couching the wires. Nonetheless, we had a finished product at the end, so that’s pretty cool!



Sight Fabric Project: The Little Prince’s Rose

Documentation by Kai on March 18, 2018

The purpose of a sight fabric project is to represent a visual story onto fabric. Although we didn’t have to include circuitry, I decided to make an upgraded version of my sewn circuit.

This time, I wanted to make my circuit have an actual image instead of making it look like a circuit. But, first, I had to make a breadboard circuit to see how the circuit would work. The button circuit on the breadboard required these materials:

Red led light

1 red wire

2 black wires

3V coin battery

Battery holder

220 ohm resistor

Push button


This is what it looked like:

After I got the breadboard circuit figured out and I knew the push button would allow the LED to light up, I decided to progress and find my inspiration for the image I was creating.

My inspiration came from The Little Prince, and more specifically, the rose that he cared for.

My materials for the sewn circuit were:

Muslin cloth

Blue felt

Embroidery hoop

Watercolor paint

Red, green, and blue thread

Conductive Thread

Soldering Machine and Solder

3V Coin battery

Battery holder

1 Red wire

2 Black wires


Therefore, I first painted onto the fabric with watercolor paint. It was just the general areas of a rose, the blossom, the stem, the grounding, and the blue background. I then hand embroidered a rose using three colors: red, blue, and green.

At first I made the mistake of using conductive thread, which just made connecting to the battery a lot more difficult, so instead, I took the conductive thread out, replacing the wiring with actual wire.

The stitching method was backstitch for the rose design and couching for the wires. I soldered the battery’s positive and negative ends to the appropriate red and black wire. I wanted to make sure that if you pressed the leaf, then the rose bud would light up. Lining up the rose to the position of the red LED was crucial, as well as the soft button for the green leaf. I also had no need for a resistor to reduce the current flow in my sewn circuit.

I made a simple soft circuit button using Antonius’s Instructables link in the Resources>Workshop link on the page. To paraphrase, I sewed conductive thread to two pieces of fabric that were separate by a piece of fabric with a hole in the middle. This way, it would function as a push button and would close the circuit so the LED would light up when pressed.

Finally, I connected the felted fabric with the circuit with the muslin cloth embroidered rose design so that the whole sewn circuit design was complete. The push button matched up with the green leaf perfectly and so did the LED with the rose blossom. Another great added function of the two fabrics, muslin cloth and felt being connected with embroidery hoop was that this allowed for the battery to be changed later on.



In the future, to improve, I can make another circuit the exact same way unto the same felted fabric and sew a star on the muslin cloth to give even greater function to the project.

Assignment 3: Pineapple Hand Loom

March 8, 2018

I knew the assignment was to make a creative hand loom out of cardboard and yarn. My resources were Adobe Illustrator, the professor’s office hours, other IMA fellows, and the laser cutter.

Starting out, Antonius took us to the Mac lab on the fifth floor, and that began my introduction to using Illustrator. I learned what made a vector cut a vector cut, and that raster was for etching, and often had a fill. In order to cut anything through with the laser cut, we had to make the stroke 0.1pt. All this was very important and novel to me.

However, what I learned in the Mac lab was not enough. I had more visits to IMA fellows, including Cici, who helped me learn how to use the pen tool to trace the design I wanted. I learned to trace the pineapple image as well as my knives that were used like weaving needles. Truth be told, I found it very hard to use illustrator, and I can’t say I really got the hang of it, but I did my best.

In order to have the wedges of the pineapple to be orderly and lined up, I made lines to trace along, which I later deleted. The following photo is an example of how I did the lines to line up, but the pineapple was different, because I changed the design afterwards, but the method of the lines was the same.


It was only later that I discovered that I needed to make the heddle for the hand loom. For this, I went to Antonius’s office hours, and got to include the etching/raster function of my hand loom. The words, Pineapple Paradise, were etched onto the heddle.


If I were to remake my pineapple hand loom in the future, I would like to etch more intricate and detailed designs on the pineapple, and not just have it simply be a cut out. I would also like to make more wedges on the sides of the pineapple so that the fabric will not have to be so spread apart when it was being weaved, and come out so thin later. I could also make sure to include the gap in the heddle so that I could take out my fabric out without cutting through the yarn.

Writing 2: Fabric Market Trip

On this field trip, we went to the fabric market, and got to look at all sorts of fabrics. These fabrics included those that were not yet sewn into ready to wear clothes and even some suits and dresses that were ready for sale. I was impressed with the abundance of different fabrics, including silk and denim.

I noticed that although there were a lot of clothes sewn meant for tops and dresses and suit jackets, there were few pants, shorts, or skirts. There was also a lot of samples of satin or silk that were just small squares of fabric. I was told not to trust sample squares, because you won’t know what the real larger amount of fabric will feel like, unless you trust the seller.

I also got to see some indigo stained fabrics, which were really beautiful. Some of the silk fabrics reminded me of beautiful watercolor and flowers, and I was really shocked that there was real silk here, as another classmate told me that this market was quite reputable.

Often times, I could see a sea of fabric all of different colors, rolled up into cylinders, stacked vertically and horizontally. I also was told that there was one store of real leather in this market, so if I want to buy leather, I now know who to trust. I realized that a lot of the twill weaves were from the denim and the satin weaves were from the silk. I just wish I had that microscope Antonius used during class to see clearer and make sure the fabrics had their certain designated weave.

Writing 1: Notions Market

Jikai Zheng’s Documentation 3: 2/13/18

On February 10, our talking fabrics class set out to the notions market to get familiar with all sorts of embellishments, buttons, lace, zips, and thread. There was a plethora to look at and, of course, to test with our multimeters.

We use the multimeters to test for anything that could be deemed conductive. Once we set our multimeters, we could search for truly conductive embellishments, not just assume something is conductive because of its metallic luster. Just because something looks metallic doesn’t mean it will be conductive!

In actuality, we found quite a lot of beads on fabric to be metallic because they were cast in metal, and even heard one seller proclaim his embellishments were stainless steel. Turns out buttons covered in metal were not rare either, and they were definitely conductive. Zippers with metal components were also conductive. Every time the multimeters beeped was an assurance of conductivity,

However, there were some gold looking plastic thread that was not conductive at all. At first, I thought it was conductive because the multimeter beeped, but it was actually the two testers touching each other that caused the sound, not the thread itself. Guess we’ll just have to work with the real stuff back in our school then.

Overall, our field trip was a great introduction to knowing what we could find in the notions market. However, since it was nearing Spring Festival, many of the shops were closed, and therefore, I would like to come back another time if I needed to find buttons and zips for my projects. Next field trip will be the fabric market, which will be crucial to my project ideas.


Assignment 2: Sewn Circuit

Jikai Zheng’s Documentation for February 8, 2018

For this assignment, I really thought I had it all figured out. I found it easy to make a circuit on a breadboard, connecting wires to the breadboard, and then including the resistor to prevent the LED from getting too much power, all functioning with a push button. Well, it wasn’t as easy as I thought to transplant that same idea onto fabric.

First, I had to solder my battery’s positive and negative ends to the wires, and make sure to use a black one for negative, and a red one for positive. Although soldering the battery was pretty easy, as I’ve soldered before, but when I moved onto the next part to sew with conductive thread, almost everything fell apart.

I had couched the thread for all the wirings in my sewn circuit, including those for my push button. I realized in order to make it more stable, I should have couched better closer to the wires afterwards. I also found out working with conductive thread to not be as easy a step as imagined. Firstly, conductive thread is slippery and it often frays, creating short circuits. Secondly, the conductive thread often slipped out of my needle’s eye, so I had to continue heedlessly to rethread the needle. The good part was that my conductive thread was used only in areas that really needed it, which was short distances apart.

Also, I forgot to mention that my wires all were soldered with loops so that I could connect the wires to the conductive thread easier. Anyway, everything seemed to be working out, battery to wire, wire to resistor, resistor to LED, when all of a sudden, the push button was inserted but it lit up anyway without pushing it. This meant that my push button was not connected within the circuit and had no effect.

Therefore, I had to readjust my conductive thread from the wire loop to the push button, and then to the LED light. I must include the push button! That component cannot be sacrificed!

I felt ecstatic when my push button turned on the LED, and felt the need to make my circuit more creative by sewing the image of a boat onto the fabric.

All in all, I had a well-learned experience throughout this assignment. I hope for more assignments like this in the future.



Assignment 1: Felted Sun

Documented by Jikai Zheng on 1/31/18

Materials: Wool made for felting, 3V Coin Battery, Led, Electrical Tape

Step 1: I started out with the yellow wool and used the needle felting technique to push the scales of fibers up, agitating them together by force to form a piece of felt fabric that could later be cut into a circle and other shapes.

Step 2: I then cut out a circle and seven triangles and attached them by needle felting again, this time adding a bit more wool to each of the connections so they would attach better.

Step 3: For the battery and Led connection, I taped the anode onto the positive side of the battery and left the negative side to touch the battery once you pressed the cathode. That way, this would run a current only when it was being pressed and wouldn’t use up all of the 3V battery.

Step 4: For the last step, I felted a small piece of fabric to contain the battery, and cut a hole for the cathode to touch the battery. Finally, I felted that piece of felt fabric containing the battery into my sun.

Looking back, I wish I changed the placement of the battery, because when it was being pressed, it covered up too much of the sun. I also wish I could have made smaller circles to make the sun more 3D.