• Elvin Ou

Garment/ Space between us 2

Updated: Mar 25, 2019

Current product:


Inspired by the project "Space between us" I did last year, I want to create a garment piece that not just uses light as a "cool effect" but an element that tells a story and foster a collaborative experience.

The project "Space between us" was an exploration of human interaction in an architectural scale that focuses on transforming the individual experience into a collaborative connection through light.The project is composed of a set of two screens suspended back to back with neoPixel strips embedded in between them. The lights are activated by data that is collected from two cameras that capture movements. One side of the piece performs as a “mirror” reflecting users’ own movement. The other side performs as a “window” seeing through, which requires collaborative effort to complete the experience

My goal for the garment project is to bring that system into soft circuit and wearable and ultimately making it wireless as a product.


I started the design by brainstorming what type of garment I wanted this piece to be, a daily wear? or maybe avande garde. From there I tried to process the image in my mind of how I want the garment to look and also how the light would be diffused by what kind of material. Then I started my first stop at the garment district.

It was actually the first time for me to visit all those fabric stores and it was amazing. I got so so excited and started touching everything I see, stretching them, putting light source behind them etc. After getting lost in the fabric world, I eventually decided to go with this warm tone weaved fabric for the garment project since i really enjoyed how it looks under the light. Taking the fabric back I started hand sewing out couple "boxes" as the light diffusing modules and putting different light behind and see the effect and I loved it. I really enjoyed how the depth of the "boxes" and the weave of the fabric are giving the light a very soft glow and texture.

After settling down how the light diffuser layer of the garment, I needed to move on to try to create a base garment for the electronics to sit on and it did not go well at first. I was not sure how to or where to find a pattern so I kind of just took one of my jacket and kind of roughly trace it over. Then I cut out the shapes and used the serger to sew them together and it was awful.

From there I knew that I had to ask for some help, so I went to my fashion designer friend Isaac and "cried" for help. After telling my friend about my vision he pulled out one of her jacket patterns and I started resizing the pattern based on the model. After that, it was just a very very long day of learning how to create a garment and eventually actually created one. I am not gonna lie, I felt like I could do anything after I created this jacket out fo scratch. It was such an amazing experience.

After that I started sewing out more of the "boxes" and tried to put them all together to create a pattern. After having a nice piece of pattern and sew them together, I tried out again using some light source to shine behind it. It made me even more excited about my following process.

Well, it did not actually turn out to be that exciting since the next step was to create a gazillion of those boxes.. It was so so so much time and patience. I felt like I was in a sweatshop constantly cutting, sewing and cutting and sewing. After couple days of on and off creating and sewing those boxes together, I eventually was able to create a fairly amount of boxes to sew on the base garment. However, before doing that, I need to create another layer of fabric for the electronics to sit on and actually create the soft circuit and test out everything.

Originally, I was planning to use sewable neoPixels for this project until I realized how expensive it was purchasing them. Instead, after talking to Jingwen, I decided to use light strips instead of individual lights. That brought the limitation of the sewing process, because the neoPixels strips does not have those conductive thread holes and the connecting parts are made of very fragile materials, I could not use actual hardwire to solder them together to complete the circuit instead of soft circuit. I was not so happy about that but i am just glad it eventually turned out to be pretty organized and flat and nice. After completing the circuit I needed a power source, which I ultimately would need to make it portable instead of an AC adaptor. I also need to learn how to use raspberry pi zero and the camera to make everything wireless so it could eventually become an actual product , an actual wearable garment.

With what I have so far, I did a test run putting everything together on a mannequin. Here are some photos and videos of how it looks like right now, I am super excited to work towards to the next step and complete this wearable project.