Wearable Therapy Tracker

     When I started this project, I wanted to create a piano on a stuffed animal so that my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s, could play the piano again. I found that a lot of other students were using sound as the communicating element of their projects, and I decided I wanted to create something that didn’t use sound but that would still be usable for my grandmother. My next project idea, that I suddenly scribbled into a notebook while someone else was presenting their idea (sorry about that!), was to create a tracker inside a stuffed animal that when pressed would record a data point. The idea being that when an Alzheimer’s patient was anxious or felt uncomfortable, the amount of data points would go up, helping the care provider to know if something was bothering them, even if they couldn’t verbally tell them. I posed the problem to my mother (ICU nurse and my grandmother’s primary caretaker) to bounce some ideas back and forth. Her suggestions were to create a tracker with a time element and a gps that could be placed inside a person’s comfort item to track when and where the patient felt anxious. For example, a tracker could be sewn into the corner of a blanket for a patient with nonverbal autism, nonverbal down syndrome etc. to help understand what is making the patient anxious. Identifying what the problem is can be extremely difficult for patients that are nonverbal or can’t communicate with you because they can’t simply tell you what the problem is. The other suggestion, which is what I went with, was to create a wearable tracker for behavior modification therapy in patients with things like Anxiety, OCD, ADHD, etc. These can be extremely debilitating for the patient– interrupting daily life. Therapy can also be extremely difficult because of the time it may take for a therapy to work, which can be frustrating and discouraging, and the judgement from others against those with mental illness (“It’s all in your head” “Get over yourself” “I get nervous sometimes too”). Therapy itself can be be a trigger for some because they worry that the therapist and others may judge them if the therapy doesn’t work immediately. Many patients will give a false positive report that the therapy is working because they worry the therapist or others will judge them if it doesn’t. In the long run, this hurts the patient even more because they aren’t able to find a therapy method that truly does work for them. By creating a therapy tracker, the goal was to help alleviate any anxiety caused by therapy and to give an objective way for therapists to see if the therapy is helping the patient. The basic principle of the tracker is like a stress ball that can count for you. The patient will press on the center of the striped fabric when they feel anxious and the arduino records a data point. By hiding the number count within the arduino rather than in something like a tally counter, it can help prevent any anxiety that could be caused by seeing the number go up. This data could then be seen by the therapist as a way to understand if the patient is anxious. By comparing the number of presses to a baseline it would be possible to see if the therapy is working. If the number is lower than baseline, then the therapy is working. If the number is higher or the same as the baseline, then the therapy is not working. There is a two-fold purpose in hiding the tracker in a bracelet. First, by hiding it in a bracelet, it looks like normal clothing preventing any anxiety or judgment from knowing that someone is wearing a tracker. Second, people tend to play with clothing, jewelry, pens, etc. when they are nervous. This allows the person to continue those calming, physical ways of alleviating any nervousness or anxiety in a way that can be quantified in a helpful way.

     Once I had the idea of what I wanted to do, my first major hurdle was coding the arduino. I do very poorly when it comes to coding, so I owe a big thanks to Professor Antonius for helping me write the code. In order to record data into the Arduino, we wrote in an EEPROM record function. When the button, ultimately the pressure sensor, was pressed it would record in the EEPROM an increase in the variable. However, with this alone, it may record three, six, or a whole bunch of points depending on the length of the press in the EEPROM instead of just once when the button was pressed. Professor Antonius suggested to use a debouncer into the code to make it record one data point in the EEPROM when the button was pressed once. In order to do this we wrote in a Boolean variable. When the button was pressed it would register that as a “false” and update the EEPROM once. It would then change the “false” to “true”. If the button was still registering as “true” (ie holding the button) it would not update the number. When the button was released, it would go back to “false.” So in simple terms, even if you press and hold the button, it will still only record one data point, making it just like a stress ball. To record six data points, press six times, etc.

      Once the Arduino was coded, I could start on transferring the hardware from a bulky breadboard and button into the  slim(mer), wireless bracelet that I wanted to create. I asking the equipment room for a prototyping shield with a breadboard so I could slim down the design, all they had with a breadboard was a cellphone shield, but it still ultimately worked for my prototyping. I put the button, a resistor, and two 3.7 V battery packs onto this using wires. I used all black wires so it would blend in with the black fabric. In order to make sure I didn’t short circuit it, I used tape to create a system I could understand for plugging all the wires in. Masking tape went to the same battery and green electrical tape were the positives. The sensor was created by using two pieces of conductive tape and two places of stranded core wire. The wires are plugged into the Arduino and then each attached to one of the pieces of tape respectively. The wires are stripped and spread on the end connected to the tape. I spread the strands apart and used electrical tape to press them onto the conductive tape. Touching the two pieces of conductive tape together completes the circuit, acting like a button-press.

      I used black neoprene for the bracelet body because it was stretchy for going onto different sized wrists and it the fabric was thick and dark to hide any color on the Arduino and blunt any sharp edges. To make it easier to sew together, I used a water bottle to act as a wrist form kind of like a dress form you would use for creating a T-shirt. This kept me from sewing it so small that I would be the only person it would fit on. I cut out a piece of fabric long and wide enough to create a bracelet when the ends were sewn together. I also added a section at the top that could be folded over the Arduino to create a rudimentary pocket-hem-like-thing. I sewed the ends of the bracelet into the circle shape while it was inside-out so the seam would be on the inside. I then put this on the water bottle so I could add the electronics. I had the Arduino, shield, sensor, and batteries all wired together at this point so I detached the batteries so I could sew it on. I placed the Arduino and shield on the top and folded the fabric over it, sewing the sides down to hold it in place. I left the end open so it was still possible to access the spot for the computer plug-in and see the LED to make sure the Arduino was actually receiving power. I then cut another long piece of the black neoprene so I could make another band over the rest of the band to create a pocket for the batteries to sit in and to act like a rubber band to hold on the Arduino as securely as possible. I taped the batteries together in a V-like shape so they would be more ergonomic on the wrist. I also taped their connection wires together and to the side. I sewed the band around on the rest of the band starting with a seam just around the top first. I then put the batteries in the half pocket that was created. I pulled the connection wires of the batteries close to the Arduino and the Arduino power wires to the same side. When I did the seam around the bottom I did a very long stitch over these wires to hold them in place for easy access but to also make sure they didn’t move once they were wired together. To create an opening for the Arduino in the bottom like I did with the pocket-sem-like opening, I did what I’ve done before to create gathered lace. I did a simple running stitch through the fabric without connecting it to the bottom piece of fabric. Once I got to the other side, I pushed the needle through both piece of fabric and pulled the thread tight to bunch the fabric together around the opening. It’s kinda like the opening in a sock without the elastic. You want it to stretch and be big enough to get your foot in, but not so big it falls off. Gathering the fabric here makes it so you can access the Arduino when you need to, but it holds it in place otherwise. Having this opening also allowed for the wires going from the sensor to the Arduino. I then went to sew the sensor on top of the bracelet, but I discovered one of the wires came untaped so I had to bust it apart to retape everything. Once I repaired it, the wires were still very touchy and required constant fixing. Even when I couched the wires in place they still tended to pull out of the tape, so I should have looked for another method to attach the wires. Here I used 2 pieces of striped woven fabric to hide the conductive tape sensor because stripes are very popular right now (makes it look even more like regular clothing) and they were already the size I needed for my project. In retrospect, I should have used a serger hem on the edge of these pieces because they were beginning to pull apart. After the sensor was sewn on, it covered a seam on the top band and the project was completely put together barring any problem.

     But, there are always problems.

     Once I had it all together, I had a problem with getting it to record data. After showing it to Professor Antonius, we found that I had wired the breadboard incorrectly. Fixing the breadboard wiring did ultimately fix that problem. I then put electrical tape over the top of this so that the wires wouldn’t disconnect when I put the Arduino back in the bracelet. Luckily the opening I left in the bottom was just large enough to remove and put the Arduino back in without having to rip the seam out.

     After this problem was fixed, the project worked just like I had intended, even if the sensor was a little finicky.

     For the future of this project, I would like to add a GPS tracker and a clock to add in the potential to see if particular times of day or a particular place causes the patient anxiety. I’d also like to make the microcontroller and battery pack much smaller and more flexible. A button switch for the battery pack would also be an ideal addition so you are able to turn it on and off without unplugging it.

Further projects with this could include other versions of it for other applications. For example, create a sensor that could be placed on object for OCD patients, such as light switches or faucet handles. It would also be ideal if there was an App on a smart device like a phone or tablet to have a patient recorded therapy evaluation (similar to current models) that could be coupled with the data received by the device to provide additional information for the therapist.

The presentation I created for the IMA show has some additional info in an easily viewable way:



-Sarah Brooker

#include <EEPROM.h>
int addr = 0;
int val;
boolean pressed = false;

void setup() {
  // put your setup code here, to run once:
  pinMode(13, INPUT);
  val = EEPROM.read(addr);

void loop() {
  // put your main code here, to run repeatedly:
  if (digitalRead(13) == 1) {
    if (pressed == false) {
      EEPROM.update(addr, val);
      pressed = true;
  } else {
    if (pressed == true) {
      pressed = false;

Arm band tilt sensor

When we started everyone had a similar general idea to create a project attached to clothing that would make a noise depending on a certain movement. We eventually decided on a project that was most similar to Arizona’s yoga band idea and Angelina’s step/music idea. Together we decided to create a set of wristbands that would make a sound when a certain motion was done. Initially we wanted each of us to have two wristbands, each set to a different tone so that together they could play a song when moved. We quickly realized, however, that this was not going to be possible because of the amount of work it would involved compared with the amount of time we had. We started by prototyping with a buzzer and a remote on an Arduino. This was able to work fairly well, although we had problems with the remotes not sending signals to the receiver. We found several remotes that worked and then tried to move the whole circuit onto a Lilypad Arduino. After struggling with the coding for a long time, even with the help of Professor Antonius, we found that the libraries were not compatible between the devices we were using. Because of this we were forced to go back to using a regular Arduino for our project. The next hurdle was the remote and how to activate the tone. We wanted to use a tilt sensor to activate or deactivate the tone, so we planned to short circuit a remote so it would always be on, attach a tilt sensor and that would determine whether a signal was sent or not. After trying to use copper tape and trying to solder the remote, we eventually had to settle for pressing the button as well because neither of the other methods were short circuiting the remote. We cut a button out of the remote top and taped it back on in place over the button we were using in the remote. Unfortunately, the button was still really difficult to use and needed to be pressed down hard in order to connect.  We soldered the remote to a 3V coin battery and a tilt sensor so that when the button was pushed and the remote tilted it would turn the tone on and off. Once the Arduino was attached to the breadboard we had initially used for prototyping, we were ready to put the circuit and remote onto wristbands so it could be worn. The Arduino, AA battery pack and breadboard were all connected and large enough to require three wristbands. We used black and pink more for aesthetic choice rather than for any other particular reason. Slits were then cut into the top and bottom of the middle wristband and one end each of the top and bottom wristbands. Carefully we put the circuitry into the wristbands with the arduino in the middle, the breadboard at one end, and the battery pack at the other. The wristband with the breadboard also had a hole in the top layer of fabric in order for the remote sensor to receive signal without being blocked by the fabric. The remote was put into a separate wristband with a hole cut out of the center of the Adidas symbol so it was easy to locate where the push button was. When we initially tried it on, I had the Arduino wristband on one arm and the remote wristband on the other. Immediately we realized that I couldn’t push the button with one arm while trying to point the remote at the same arm. Once someone else put on the remote wristband, we tried it and the buzzer made a tone– it worked! A few flaws with the system include the bulk of the Arduino, the heat of the battery back inside the wristband, the difficulty in pressing the remote button, the overall size of the Arduino wristband and lack of room for a normal sized wrist because of the bulk, and the delicacy of the breadboard in the wristband. When I put on the Arduino wristband just before we presented it, several of the wires connecting the Arduino with the breadboard came undone because of pulling the wristband on. Overall, for future use I’d like to see the circuitry, batteries and all, reduced in size. It would also be nice to have an easier button (aka short circuited or otherwise) and the ability to play more than a single tone.

-Sarah Brooker

#define BUZZER  10                        //Connect Buzzer to Digital Pin 10
#define LED_RED 11                        //Connect a Red LED to Digital Pin 11
#define IR_IN   8                         //Connect the Infrared receiver to Digital Pin 8
int Pulse_Width=0;                       //Pulse width
int  ir_code=0x00;                       //IR command code

void timer1_init(void){                  //Initilize timer
    TCCR1A = 0X00; 
    TCCR1B = 0X05; 
    TCCR1C = 0X00;
    TCNT1  = 0X00;
    TIMSK1 = 0X00;  

void remote_deal(void){                         //Get IR command
    case 0xff00:                                //Press stop button on the remote controller
        digitalWrite(LED_RED,LOW);              //Turn off red led
        digitalWrite(BUZZER,LOW);               //Silence the buzzer
    case 0xfe01:                                //Press VOL+ button
        tone(BUZZER, 784, 1000);
        digitalWrite(BUZZER,HIGH); ;             //Turn off Red LED
    case 0xf609:                                //Press VOL- button
        tone(BUZZER, 640, 1000);
        digitalWrite(BUZZER,HIGH);              //Turn on Buzzer

char logic_value(){                                         // The function determine the logic value "1" and "0".
    while(!(digitalRead(8)));                               //Wait low 
    Pulse_Width = TCNT1;
    TCNT1 = 0;
    if( Pulse_Width >= 7 && Pulse_Width <= 10 ){               //low level 560us
        while(digitalRead(8));                                //Value is high, then wait.
        Pulse_Width = TCNT1;
        if( Pulse_Width >= 7 && Pulse_Width <= 10 )            //High level 560us
             return 0;
        else if( Pulse_Width >= 25 && Pulse_Width <= 27 )      //High level 1.7ms
             return 1;
    return -1;

void pulse_deal()  {                                 //Receive address code and command code pulse function
    int i;   
    // Run 8 zeros
    for(i=0; i<8; i++) {
      if( logic_value() != 0 )                       //If it isn't 0.
    // Run 6 ones
    for(i=0; i<6; i++) {
      if(logic_value()!= 1)                        //If it isn't 1.
    // Run 1 zero
    if(logic_value()!= 0)                          //If it isn't 0.
    //Run 1 one
    if(logic_value()!= 1)                          //If it isn't 1.
    //decode the commands of IR remote control codes 
    ir_code = 0x00;                                  //clear
    for(i=0; i<16;i++ )  {
      if(logic_value() == 1)   {
        ir_code |=(1<<i);

void remote_decode(void){                          //decode function
    TCNT1 = 0X00;       
    while(digitalRead(8)){                         // Value is high, then wait.
      if(TCNT1>=1563) {                            // High level duration exceeds 100ms,which means "no button pressed".
        ir_code = 0xff00;
    // High level duration doesn't exceed 100ms.
    TCNT1 = 0X00;
    while(!(digitalRead(8)));                           // wait low
    TCNT1 = 0;
    if(Pulse_Width>=140&&Pulse_Width<=141) {            // 9ms  
        while(digitalRead(8));                          //Value is high, then wait.
        if(Pulse_Width>=68&&Pulse_Width<=72) {          //4.5ms
        else if(Pulse_Width>=34&&Pulse_Width<=36){     //2.25ms
          while(!(digitalRead(8)));                    //wait low
          if(Pulse_Width>=7&&Pulse_Width<=10){         //560us

void setup(){
  unsigned char i;
  pinMode(LED_RED,OUTPUT);                      //Set red led pin output
  pinMode(BUZZER,OUTPUT);                       //Set buaaer pin output
  pinMode(IR_IN,INPUT);                         //Set ir receiver input

void loop(){  
  timer1_init();                                //timer init
    remote_decode();                            //decode
    remote_deal();                              //Run decodeerout

Social Interaction– Huggable Heart

Diego and I were working together on the social interaction project, and we decided to create a heart that would light up when a person was hugged with the lights getting brighter the harder you hugged it. We planned on doing this with the microcontroller and the PWM pins to create a pressure sensor for the LEDs. After looking in the fabric scrap room, we decided on using blue felt to give the LEDs a sturdy backing. We also used some red ribbon to define the shape of the heart, as we were only using six LEDs to define the shape of the heart. We ended up using the Lilypad sewable LEDs. Luckily these LEDs have resistors built into them, which made the overall circuitry much easier.

First I sewed the red ribbon onto the blue felt in the shape of the heart, and then sewed the LEDs onto that so Diego could wire them. When we first prototyped the ground connections in class, it would only allow a few of the LEDs to light up at the same time, so Antonius suggested we wire them individually, which worked much better in the long run. Diego then used female to male wire connections to add these individual ground wires to the prototyping shield. We also used this same kind of connection for the positive wiring. Unfortunately after creating a mostly working prototype, we realized the connections to the LEDs were too flimsy, so we needed to solder them in place. This resulted in almost completely redoing the entire circuit from the beginning. Once this was done it worked much better, although it was still a little touchy in some spots.

While Diego worked on this wiring, I worked on creating a pocket on the back of the shirt for the microcontroller and the battery pack to sit in. After Antonius’s suggestion, I put a line of stitches in the center to make the components more stable and secure in the pocket. However, as Antonius pointed out during the presentation, it might have been more stable and more visually appealing to create an actual pocket for the components to sit in, rather than sewing a piece of fabric onto the shirt to create a basic sort of pocket.

We then began to work on the pressure sensor that Antonius showed us how to use in class. The conductive fabric was connected to the prototype shield using conductive thread, some alligator clips, and a few wires. We had one major problem with this however. We noticed that if the conductive thread touched anywhere on the board that had exposed parts that it would start to smoke and burn. In order to prevent a fire, we added wires with loops on the end that connected to the board to move the conductive threads away from the board. It ended up looking somewhat like an insect antenna. The initial code that Diego created for a blink function worked to light up the LEDs. Once we moved to creating code for a pressure sensitive switch, the LEDs, however, would not change in intensity, even after some code modifications.

After getting the main part of the circuitry working and in place, we decided to add a t-shirt over the top to hide the main portion of the wiring and to dim the LEDs since our pressure sensor wasn’t working. It was possible to see some of the color through the top t-shirt. As Antonius suggested though, it might have been more visually appealing to play with using different fabrics on top of the circuitry.




Sight Project– Jane Eyre Dress

Materials used: Conductive thread, needle, scissors, dress, single-sided interface, iron

When we started this project my initial idea was to create a calendar that had special events or holidays embroidered on that day with a small LED that could light up in the square. However, after sketching out how to make this possible, I realized it would take several color changes and it a lot of time to put all of the art together in illustrator. Given the amount of time I had available, this was not feasible, so I decided I needed to change my idea.

My next idea was to embroider something from my favorite book, Jane Eyre, onto a piece of clothing. I knew I wanted to include the figure of Jane Eyre as well as a symbol and quotes from the book. I decided to use the first sentence of the first chapter and the first sentence of the conclusion chapter as the quotes from the book, and I would place them on the front and back respectively. I thought that it would be too simple to embroider the letters straight onto the clothing so I decided to turn the sentences into binary, convert that to symbols, and then embroider that onto the clothing. I drew my inspiration for that from the weaving project shown in class that used binary to create a pattern from a poem. I then searched for silhouette clipart of a victorian woman. I decided on two images that I wanted to splice together using a drawing app (I don’t know how to use photoshop). I found a silhouette of a chestnut tree, which is the important symbol from the book that I chose to use.

I after some photo editing and converting the text to binary and then to symbols, I used illustrator to arrange what the front and back of the design would look like. I placed the image of Jane (and the birds) on the front with the symbolic binary of the first sentence. On the back I placed the chestnut tree and the symbolic binary of the first sentence of the last chapter. Then I created outlines from these shapes to get it ready for the embroidery programs. At this point I purchased a long sleeve, turtleneck dress from Forever 21 to use as the clothing this would be embroidered on. It was bought on clearance for 40 kuai.

During the working class day I ironed single-sided interface onto the inside of the front and back of the dress (chest area) so it was stiff and wouldn’t stretch or move in the embroidery machine. While another student was working on the embroidery machine I chose what thread I would use for the embroidery since I planned on only using one color for the whole project. Because we didn’t have a large serger thread size spool of white thread, I chose to use silver, which also happened to be three-ply conductive thread. Right after, Professor Antonius took a look at the files that I had created for the embroidery machine. Unfortunately they were too complex for the machine, so I needed to simplify the designs. At this time I went down to the fifth floor Mac labs to use illustrator to simplify the designs. I decided to remove all the symbols standing for zeros in the binary, chose a simplified tree design, and would later also remove several of the birds coming out of the book. I also made the design smaller in scale overall so it would fit better for the machine.

Once this was done, I brought the files back up to the eighth floor for Professor Antonius to look over again. This time the files were small enough to go into the convertor program, but for the front design it gave me several errors by cutting the Jane silhouette into two shapes and it refused to recognize the + symbols (representing 1s) as shapes to embroider. I then figured I could at least embroider the back design since the program recognized all the shapes in it correctly.

Another student was using the embroidery machine, however, it was frequently giving her error messages. Then the machine jammed by pulling the fabric into the machine. We worked together to follow the instructions given by the machine to unjam it, but once the jam was removed and we attempted to turn the machine on again, it refused to turn on. After consulting another IMA professor and testing different sockets and power cords, she felt we wouldn’t be able to use the machine until we had someone come in to fix it and determine what the problem was. By this point, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish the project. So, in order to insure I had a finished project, I decided to start hand embroidering the design that I created as best I could. I had mostly finished the outline of Jane’s silhouette when I was told the embroidery machine was working again. I returned to the IMA lab to see about the embroidery machine. I thought that I could leave the work I had done so far and just use the machine to embroider the rest onto the clothing. The machine, however, was not working very well and frequently gave error messages (even at times when there was no error), slowing it down. We then received permission to move the embroidery machine up to the 9th floor in order to continue working on the machine past the closing time of the IMA lab.

After moving the machine up to the 9th floor, I continued to hand embroider the large silhouettes onto the clothing while another student used the embroidery machine. Once this student was finished using the machine I tried to use the machine. Unfortunately because of the size, shape, and bulk on my clothing, it would not fit onto the embroidery hoop that the machine used. Because the IMA lab was closed and all of the IMA fellows and staff had gone, I couldn’t access the scrap room either to embroider another piece of cloth and then attach that to the clothing. I also didn’t have fabric scissors to cut the clothing apart and sew it back together once I’d finished. Because of this, I decided that I would finish hand embroidering the clothing with the design in an even more simplified form. I knew that I would not have time the next day to work on it because I had classes until 9:30pm, nor would I have time on the day it was due, so I knew I needed to finish the project that night. As I was working on the hand embroidery, the needle in the machine broke while another student was using it, and as this was the second needle to break and last needle we had available, it further meant that I would not be able to use the embroidery machine to finish my project. At around 3:30am Wednesday morning I finished hand embroidering the front part of the design. However, because of words that I had decided to place on the back (“Reader, I married him”) were so uneven in length and the tree was too large, I decided not to embroider it on the back (my hair would cover it on the top and it wouldn’t look good so low on the bottom).

Since I had decided that I was finished embroidering the designs, I attempted to put the dress on. Bad idea. With the interface still on the dress it was difficult to put on, and even more difficult to take off. I was flailing around in the Women’s Restroom at 4:00am with a dress stuck on my head and arms. I was honestly worried I may need to leave it on and then have someone help me later to pull it off of me. Fortunately with persistence and quite a bit of pulling, I managed to work it off. In order to prevent this from happening again, I decided to remove all the interface that was not sewn in my the embroidery. As I was removing this it left a sort of residue on the inside of the dress that I still have not been able to remove. Then I tried to put the dress on again, and this time it worked much, much better, almost the same as before the embroidery was on it. At this point, I felt I was finished with my project and prepared it to present on Thursday.

Looking back, there are a few things I would have done differently. I would have chosen a simpler design to embroider, or chosen a different method of application altogether. I also would have chosen something simpler like a T-shirt to make it easier to do whatever method I would ultimately choose. If I still chose this design and the machine would still not work for this cloth, I would have invested in some tailor’s chalk to at least draw the design onto the fabric first, rather than do it without any guidelines at all. Hand embroidering this took longer than I expected, although the interface did make it stiffer and much easier to embroider.

Because I used conductive thread, there is a possibility of added a circuit into the dress. However, given the way I embroidered, it would be very likely to short circuit. And, with the placement of the thread being on the chest and back, I would not want something to risk someone’s safety with a short circuit in these areas, so I think it would be best to leave the dress as is.

I attached my presentation slides that have all of my pictures (start to finish) on them.


Sarah Brooker

Hand Loom

For this project I knew my lack of skills in spatial thinking and anything mechanical would severally limit my ability to create a loom that was more advanced mechanically. In order to try and counteract this, I wanted to create a loom that was more simplistic in design but that I could do a complicated raster etch and a more complex weave pattern.
My initial ideas for a loom was to have it upright with a heddle that would push down on the weave using gravity to help, but I had trouble thinking of a way to design that so I switched to something even more simple. I didn’t want to do a completely flat loom because it was difficult to weave the thread through without any space to move the weft threads. So to give the threads space, I decided to have the threads elevated off the base of the loom. In my drawings shown here, I had also planned on having pieces of cardboard along the side that were short so that the threads still had room to move but would provide structural support to the loom. However, after finding the pizza box lid that already had bent ends and could support itself, I chose not to add this piece to save on cardboard and hot glue. The loom would be structurally strong enough to function without it, it saves on resources, and the sides may have gotten in the way of weaving the ends, so overall I think it was a good choice to leave it out.

I did some searching online, specifically on google and Pinterest, and found a chart of various weaves. The Spanish lace weave in particular drew my attention because it looked like it would create a beautiful pattern despite the simplicity of the taffeta weave that it is based on. I decided to give it a try on the small scale with the loom and yarn from the first class we did on weaving. I really liked the pattern it created so I decided to use this for my project.

For the raster etching, I took a long time to think about what I wanted to use. Initially I thought about using a picture of some otters since they’re one of my favorite animals, but I wanted it to be a bit more unique and different from the fish design that was shown in class. Sticking with the cactus idea I had earlier in the semester I decided to use some sort of image that could be associated with my home (-ish, it’s a long story) state of Arizona. After a lot of google searching I decided to use an image of a Cactus Wren on top of a Saguaro for the raster etching. The image was initially a coloring page, so the etching would mostly be thinner lines rather than fills. Because of the way this image was created, it was A LOT of little outlines. This took a while to fill in red on Adobe Illustrator…. But the finished product was definitely worth it. I also added the word “Arizona” next to the Wren in a sort of Old West style font. Unfortunately, as it was pointed out to me during presentations, when you’re weaving the design gets covered by the fabric. With the way the loom is designed however, the image could only be on the inside and covered by the fabric or on the bottom when set in your lap or on a table. I personally prefer to have it on the inside so I can see it while I’m weaving, but I can definitely understand wanting to show it off to others. Initially I was planned to make more of a needle shape for the shuttle, but then decided to make it more rounded so it would hold up better. And, because it would be extremely difficult to create a heddle for this weaving pattern, Professor Antonius suggested I create a comb, styled after a Spanish comb, for pushing the weave together after pulling the thread through. After googling some Spanish comb designs I was worried about the amount of cardboard I would need as well as the durability of the comb, even if it was beautiful. I also wanted to stick with an Arizona theme, despite using a Spanish style weave. I decided to put a coyote silhouette on the shuttle, which unfortunately became covered by yarn, and a prickly pear cactus design on the comb. For a larger loom a handle would definitely be helpful on the comb, but for this small loom the square shape worked really well. It was easy to set the comb on top of the weft threads when I wasn’t using it without worrying about it getting tangled.

When it came time to cut the loom out, I had some problems with the scale of my project in illustrator. I’m really bad at measuring, even in a straight line with a ruler, so my numbers were a little off. It also didn’t help that my ruler was in centimeters compared to the cutter’s inches. I did convert but it was still slightly off. There was a slight problem with the shape of the cardboard interfering with the design. One of the slots for the weft thread was open more than it should have been because the cardboard had a sharp angle to fit in its original shape if a pizza box lid. Because my scale was also initially wrong, the holes on the loom were not on the edge. The fellow helping me offered to cut off the excess with the laser cutter, but I opted to use a box cutter so he could help the person in the next appointment slot (my raster etching took a long time). After everything was cut out and etched, I used some hot glue to make sure that the ends stayed upright. They were already folded in that shape to begin with, but the hot glue insured that it wouldn’t move while I was weaving. To improve on my design it would have been nice to have deeper holes in the loom so the weft thread would stay in place while I was trying to get them wrapped around the loom tightly. To solve this problem I taped them in place. Once I had a few lines of the weave going the weft threads didn’t move a much, but it was still good to know that they were secure when I pulled them up to pass the shuttle through.


The weaving itself was extremely easy, but the design was still very beautiful. As Professor Antonius pointed out though, I do think it would look better using a different kind of thread. This red yarn, however, was readily available, small (relative to the other options), and there was plenty of it (my loom was a little big and the weave uses a lot of thread). I don’t have much money to spare, so it was also better for me personally to be able to use a thread that I didn’t have to purchase.

Overall my largest issues were mechanical design (measurement, simple design in general) and where to place the etchings so that they can be seen best.

Sarah Brooker

Fabric Market Trip

Compared to the notions market trip, the fabric market was much busier and most of the shops were opened compared to the few that were open at the notions market. However, this fabric Market seemed to be much quieter than the South Bund fabric market that I visited last semester with my roommate. I think probably amounts to the time of day and the day of the week (I visited the South Bund market on a Saturday). At this market there wa as very large variety of fabrics available that also varied in length and quality. Many of the stiffer cottons and linens at the shirt shops were on shorter bolts while some of the more specialized fabrics like denim and dress fabrics (satins, silk, laces) were available in much wider panels.

One particular store had a dress displayed made of a stiff, yellow jacquard fabric. Another even had fabrics for projections and a synthetic fabric with a see-through, opalescent shine to it! Several of the stores also had books of fabric samples available; however, as with most stores that provide samples, it is much more reliable to base purchases off the full product that’s available in hand. From my experience with paint usually the sample tends to be either faded or slightly dirty, skewing what the color will look like as a finished project, which, depending on the project, can make a huge difference. Many of the shops here also functioned as tailors. Just by window shopping, it appeared as though there was a very wide variety of specialities from gowns, Qi Pao, shirts, coats, and suits to curtains, bedding, and upholstery. Compared to tailors and fabric stores in the US the prices here are favorable, even for custom tailoring. Several of the tailors appeared to have several patterns and stencils available to make a wide variety of custom items.

Sarah B.

Notions Market

Before this market trip, I expected the Notions Market to be similar to the South Bund Fabric Market (which I visited last semester with my roommate) in terms of scale. Despite many of the stalls being closed for the upcoming holiday, the few stores that were open provided a glance at the large variety of available products. By looking into some of the glass store fronts, it was possible to see that many of the vendors also display products outside of the storefront adding to the scale and complexity of the market. When we add in the fact that many of the vendors also have an online presence or that they have moved completely online, the sheer scale of availability is impressive. (My sense of scale may be slightly skewed as to find anything similar to this near were I live would require a six hour drive to Boston, an eight hour drive to New York, or a four hour drive to Quebec.)

The look of some of the products can be very deceptive in terms of conductivity. The beadwork pictured below, which on first glance looks plastic, was indeed conductive. However, the metallic looking thread, pictured next to it, was not conductive. The metallic threads in the fabric pictured below were also not conductive while some of the plastic appearing buttons and the loops on some beads were conductive. One particular vendor that specialized in zippers showed us a device that he uses to test the conductivity of products similar in appearance to a stud-finder. Many of his zippers were conductive while others ranged from plastic to large, almost industrial-sized zippers.

The types of products available feel like a dream come true for any sort of crafter, costumer, designer, etc. coming from areas were this sort of open market is not available. Pictured below are just some of the wide range of things available from lace, ribbons, appliqués, buttons, tassels, and fasteners to fabric panels and thread.

Before I head home for the summer, I hope to do a small bit of shopping for a project I have planned. 🙂 (sorry for the sideways photos, the window crashes when I try to rotate them)

-Sarah Brooker

Sewn Circuit- Pocket Square

For this project I started out with creating a circuit on a breadboard. Once this circuit was working, I transferred it to the white fabric we had previously used to practice, while I decided what to do for my project. I eventually decided to make a light-up pocket square, hopefully done with a flower fold. In the scrap room I found a piece of thin black fabric that I flower folded into a pocket square. I then took some green thread, later replaced with black thread, to hold the fold in place so I could sew the components of the circuit onto the pocket square.

The next thing I planned on doing was to solder the components of the circuit together so that I could simply couch them in place and then use conductive thread to attach the LED to the circuit. Before the class presentation I was able to see the LED in place with regular thread, but due to poor planning of my time, I did not solder the components together to make a circuit. I was also missing conductive snaps as a switch to the circuit that I had planned to buy during the Notions market field trip (we ended up having some on Thursday so this part was unnecessary).

After the class on Thursday when we were supposed to present the complete circuit, I was able to solder together most of the circuit before a spring in the helping hands popped out. Later, I couched the soldered parts onto the back of the pocket square where they would not be visible during normal wear. My hope is to have a functioning circuit by the next class. Now I know for future reference to be much more careful with my time management and to be very certain of when the deadline is.

Sarah Brooker

Saguaro Cactus

Date: January 25, 2018

Project name: Saguaro Cactus

Documented by: Sarah Brooker


  • Wool roving– 9 colors
    • Pale green
    • Dark green
    • Green
    • Tan
    • Black
    • White
    • Coral
    • Pink
    • Red
  • Felting Needle
  • Styrofoam Block
  • Red LED
  • Battery
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Pencil


I initially was going to create a tree with a green LED, modeled after a pine tree. I then decided that it would take more wool roving and felt than I had of that color to create the shape that I wanted while still holding the battery. To be completely honest, another motivation to change my decision was that I dislike Pine trees. I lived for a long time around Saguaros, so I grew to be very fond of them, despite the spines. At the bottom I added some pictures of a Saguaro cactus from Tucson! 🙂 

  1. The first step that I did was in class. I started by layering the pale green roving in a lattice pattern, and then I felted this together using the felting needle. This was the point when I decided to shift from a Pine tree to a Saguaro cactus. At this point I also switched my LED color from green to red so better reflect the place that the LED was going to be on the felt (the color switch is also visible in the photos).                                 
  2. Then I began to felt together the other colors I planned on using, the dark green and the red.
  3. Then once I had the basic colors felted together, I sketched out my design on paper to ensure that the components would fit in the amount of fabric that I had felted together.
  4. Then using this as a pattern, I cut out the basic shapes for the body of the cactus and the four main ridges from the dark green felt. I then felted these together. I ended up flipping the pattern because once the arms were felted on the main body, the one side looked much better than the other.                                                                   
  5. I next added the green felt right next to the dark green felt to create a highlight for the ridges of the cactus. In order to achieve the thin highlight that I wanted, I pulled off some of the green roving and twisted it in the Z direction. I then felted this into the dark green and the pale green felt.                                                                                   
  6. After I felted a large portion of the main cactus body together, I felted the tan wool roving into a rectangular fabric. I added some small pieces of red and black roving to this to achieve a more varied color, similar to real desert sand. Once it was felted together, I added it to the bottom of the cactus body. Here I decided not to trim the sand as I had drawn on my plan. I preferred the look of the square bottom rather than the round one I drawn. Here I used a very shallow angle to felt the sand and the cactus body together in order to make it appear more like the cactus was growing out of the sand rather than sitting on top of it. I would use this same technique to felt together the fruit to again make it look like it was growing rather than floating.
  7. I next cut the red felt into round, fruit-like shapes, which I then felted onto the cactus body and arms at the top. Once these were in place, I added the 3 colors of highlighting to the fruit. I had intended to only use two, but the roving that I had pulled from the box turned out to be white and pale pink rather than just white. I used the pure white for the center fruit and the pink for the two arms. The highlighting I felted from roving straight onto the cactus without making it into fabric separately first.                                             
  8. Once all the pieces were felted together, I used a pair of closed scissors to push a hole into the top fruit. I then pushed the red LED through this hole. Once it was in place I approximated where the battery should be placed and used left over pale green felt to create a pocket for the battery.  At the same time, I added small pieces of black felt to the main body and arms of the cactus to simulate the spines found on a Saguaro cactus.
  9. I then put the battery into the pocket to check if the placement was correct. The ends of the LED did touch the battery and it lit correctly.                       


The highlighting of my cactus was inconsistent in where the light source would be placed. For the ridges the light source would be on the right side of the cactus, but for the fruit the light source is coming from the top left. The pocket for the battery is a little too small as well so the battery is prone to falling out. I would like to have been able to use wires to connect the battery to the LED, with a resistor and switch as well. This would have eliminated the issue of my hand covering portions of the cactus when holding it up because the LED would not remain in contact with the battery on both sides. By using wires, I could have moved the battery down to the bottom of the cactus while still having the LED at the top, preventing a top heavy cactus.


Saguaro Photos & Factoids:

These particular Saguaros can be found in Sabino Canyon, in Tucson, Arizona. It’s one of my favorite hiking spots! We actually love the cactus so much that it is a Class 4 felony to harm one in any way, especially because they take a very long time to grow, some living well over 150 years!

These are the flowers that bloom on the cactus. They are the state wildflower, and are loved by all sorts of insects and birds!                                                                     

The fruits shown here are edible (to animals and humans), but you need a pole to get them down because the cactus can be up to 40 feet tall. They taste sweet and a little bitter! (I personally prefer Prickly Pear cactus fruit to Saguaro) The native tribes have relied on this fruit for a very long time, often fermenting it into a drink!

Images available on google.