LED (light-up) DRESS: Ravishing Roses

So I’ve been gone a while and I’ve been helping my friend with her dress for a fashion show. Honestly I never thought I would be working on a dress for a fashion show. It was a lot of work. Its basically just a parallel circuit with UV LEDs, which give off quite a bit of violet light in the visible light spectrum.  The aim for the UV was so that the rest of the white dress would literally glow.  Everybody at the fashion show absolutely loved it!

Update  (08/27/2015): This link may break in the future and I’m not sure where, or if, she currently blogs so I’ve basically duplicated what her post said.  She didn’t post her real name in her blog so if you must know that, let me know and I’ll get in touch with her.

The reason I have not posted anything recently, is finally here! My UV-LED Dress that is made out of boning, LED lights that are individually wired, and 45 handcrafted, roses. (Message me if you would like to know how to make these roses, that may be another post that I will work on, this summer.)

As a student at the University of Wisonsin-Stout – I made this dress for the annual Silhouettes Fashion show this year. The theme was called “Glow” and my fellow students used glow in the dark paint and EL wire (*photos not here).  Well, I hope you like my dress, it took nearly a month to make!


Special thanks to:

Photographer: Kelly Connelly

Model: Mina Na

Electrical Engineer: Shannon Strutz

The following is from an afterthought post I’d made.  Around this time, I’d had a good amount of circuit design knowledge, but very little actual firmware programming knowledge.  Also when this dress was made, the WS2812 wasn’t nearly as popular and possibly wasn’t even around.

Even though this project has bee indefinitely postponed, I still think about it quite often.  I keep on trying to figure out new ways to re-engineer the entire concept.

The circuit in this dress wasn’t exactly that well made.  The circuit we ended up using was just 16 blue LEDs connected in parallel to a 3.7v LiPo battery.  The original plan was to have a small board that had an ATmega328P and a TLC5940 mounted on the back of the battery that would fade the LEDs in a stunning manner.  Unfortunately I didn’t plan it too well.  Not only was I under a lot of stress (using a soldering iron on synthetic fibers is super stressful b/c you can’t let anything touch the dress or it melts) but I also had very little time to make it.  Making a dress magically light up is kind of difficult to find time for when going through engineering courses, trying to help friends with their homework, and managing all other aspects of student life.

Now its not to say that I’m not happy with the dress.  The model won over the entire audience and the other designer received a lot of attention for the dress, even though we weren’t listed in the pamphlet for the show.  The lights were beautiful.  Although I do wish that I’d spent more time on the actual board.

I’m a sucker for making custom boards and ordering them from a professional fabrication service.  That way I know all the traces will be solid and any mistakes in design were my fault and I can go back on the computer to check it out rather than just observing a simple pcb.  If I’d had more time, I would have definitely done that.

If I were to re-make the dress, I would have definitely made a custom board as well as required more time to work on it, at least a week.  I do say this project is indefinitly postponed, but that doesn’t mean I will never return to it.  In fact I look forward to the opportunity.



By Shannon Strutz

It's over on the About me page

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