One of the worst things about sewing is finding out that your bobbin — that’s the smaller spool that works together with the needle and the larger spool to make a complete stitch — ran out of thread several stitches ago. If you’re lucky, the machine has a viewing window on the bobbin so you can easily tell when it’s getting dangerously close to running out, but many machines (ours included) must be taken halfway apart and the bobbin removed before it can be checked.
Here’s how it works: load up the clever little acrylic slide with up to twelve empty bobbins, then dial in the speed percentage and press the start button. The bobbins load one at a time onto a drill chuck that’s on the output shaft of a beefy 775 DC motor. The motor spins ridiculously fast, loading up the bobbin in a few seconds. Then the bobbin falls down a ramp and into a rack, and the thread is severed by a piece of nichrome wire.
An important part of winding bobbins is making sure the thread stays in place at the start of the wind. We love the way [Mr. Innovative] handled this part of the problem — a little foam doughnut around a bearing holds the thread in place just long enough to get the winding started. The schematic, BOM, and CAD files are available if you’d like to make one of these amazing machines for yourself. In the meantime, check out the demo/build video after the break.
Fabrics with electrical functionality have been around for several years, but are very rarely used in mainstream clothing. The fabrics are very expensive and the supply can be unreliable. Frustrated by this, [Counter Chemists] developed PolySense, simple open-source technology to make any fibrous material into a conductive material that can be used to sense pressure, stretch, capacitive touch, humidity, or temperature.
PolySense uses a process called in-situ polymerization, effectively dying a fabric to become piezoelectric. This is done by first soaking the fabric in a mixture of water and the organic compound pyrrole, and then adding iron chloride to trigger a reaction. The polymerization process that takes place wraps the individual fibers of the fabric in conductive polymer chains.
Instead of just uniformly coating a fabric, various masking techniques can be used to dye patterns onto the fabric for various use cases. The video after the break shows a range of these applications, including using polymerized gloves and leggings for motion capture, a zipper that acts like a linear potentiometer, and touch-sensitive fabric. The project page lists sources for the required chemicals in both Europe and the US, and we look forward to seeing what other applications the community can come up with.
The Japanese market product eschewed the typical mechanical controls of the era, to instead interface with a Nintendo Game Boy. The sewing machine would hook up to the handheld console via the Link Port, while the user ran a special cartridge containing the control software. This would allow the user to select different stitch types, or embroider letters. Very much a product of its time, the nu yell mimics the then-cutting edge industrial design of the first-generation Apple iMac. The technology was later licensed to Singer, who brought it to the US under the name IZEK. Sales were poor, and the later Jaguar nuotto didn’t get a similar rebranding stateside.
Some folks bring out an heirloom table runner when they have company, but what if you sewed your own and made it musical? We’d never put it away! [kAi CHENG] has an Instructable about how to recreate his melodic material, and there is a link to his website, which describes his design process, not just the finished product. We have a video below showing a jam session where he exercises a basic function set.
GarageBand is his DAW of choice, which receives translated MIDI from a Lilypad. If you don’t have a Lilypad, any Arduino based on the ATmega328P chip should work seamlessly. Testing shows that conductive threads in the soft circuit results in an occasional short circuit, but copper tape makes a good conductor at the intersections. Wide metallic strips make for tolerant landing pads beneath modular potentiometers fitted with inviting foam knobs. Each twist controls a loop in GarageBand, and there is a pressure-sensitive pad to change the soundset. Of course, since this is all over MIDI, you can customize to your heart’s content.
Furries came out of early American comics and grew into the subculture the internet just can’t leave alone today. Many people take on an avatar of their furry self when participating in this subculture, and one of the prize achievements is to design, commission, or build a fur suit. What [Dr. Cockroach]’s build shows is why some of these suits can easily fetch 10,000USD. It really is a labor of love. It’s also brings up one of his goals in this project, to discover cheaper ways to construct these suits, so other people who share his hobby have a more financially accessible process to join in.
We were fascinated at the construction process. A base was built out of soft foam around a mock head. On this base more foam was layered and carved before the shape of his avatar, Marcus, started to take form. His wife found the testing process particularly humorous, but when he was happy with the arrangement and the movable jaw he began working on the pattern.
The pattern making process is very clever. He layers the foam base with masking tape and then peels it off. It’s easy to then cut the tape strategically until it lays flat. We can definitely see ourselves using this trick to do anything from sheet metal to duplicating plastic forms.
Then comes quite a lot of difficult stitching. We’d never thought about it before, but if you’re trying to simulate fur a lot of attention has to be paid tot he direction the fur lays; further increasing the difficulty.
Wherever your opinion lies, no hacker can turn down a detailed build log, and there are tricks to be learned anywhere if enough attention is paid.
You’ve designed PCBs. You’ve cut, drilled, Dremeled, and blow-torched various objects into project enclosurehood. You’ve dreamed up some object in three dimensions and marveled as the machine stacked up strings of hot plastic, making that object come to life one line of g-code at a time. But have you ever felt the near-limitless freedom of designing in fabric?
I don’t have to tell you how satisfying it is to make something with your hands, especially something that will get a lot of use. When it comes to that sweet cross between satisfaction and utility, fabric is as rewarding as any other medium. You might think that designing in fabric is difficult, but let’s just say that it is not intuitive. Fabric is just like anything else — mysterious until you start learning about it. The ability to design and implement in fabric won’t solve all your problems, but it sure is a useful tool for the box.
To prove it, I’m going to take you through the process of designing something in fabric. More specifically, a tool roll. These two words may conjure images of worn, oily leather or canvas, rolled out under the open hood of a car. But the tool roll is a broad, useful concept that easily and efficiently bundles up anything from socket wrenches to BBQ utensils and from soldering irons to knitting needles. Tool rolls are the best in flexible, space-saving storage — especially when custom-designed for your need.
In this case, the tools will be pens, notebooks, and index cards. You know, writer stuff. But the same can just as easily organize your oscilloscope probes. It’s usefully and a great first foray into building things with fabric if this is your first time.
Most hobbies come with a lot of tools, and thread injecting is no different. Quilting itself may be Queen Hobby when it comes to the sheer volume of things you can buy: specialized templates, clips, thimbles, disappearing ink pens, and so on. And of course, you want it all within arm’s reach while sitting at the machine.
Years ago, [KevsWoodworks] built an impressive custom quilting desk for his wife. He’d added on to it over the years, but it was time for a bigger one. This beautiful beast has 21 drawers and 6 large cubbyholes for plastic bins. At the wife’s request, one of the drawers is vertical. [Kev] doesn’t say what she put in there, but if it were our desk, that’s where we’d stash all our large plastic rulers that need to be kept flat (or vertical). There’s also a lift, so any sewing machine can be brought up flush with the enormous top.
Fortunately for us, [Kev] likes to teach. He documented the build in a series of videos that go nicely with his CAD drawings, which are available for download. Thread your way past the break to see those videos.
Want to do some thread injecting, but don’t want to spend hundreds on a machine? We got lucky with our entry-level injector. If yours is a piece of scrap or has limited stitch options, replace the motor, or add an Arduino.