Arduino women's and the Community Quilt Project

Arduino women, Tenaya Hurst co-orginized the Community Quilt Project at Sunnyvale Public Library that helped to bring community together and promote wearable technologies. We are happy to post her review of this amazing event.


After helping to develop the Make-HER program at Sunnyvale Public Library, I thought my work was done at the library. This is a special program that brings several free workshops to young girl makers and their moms / maker-mentors. So, I was thrilled when the adult services department contacted me about an exciting new quilt project.  The library is a great resource for sewing classes and thanks to a grant (and the hard working librarians who apply for such grants!), there are several new shiny sewing machines for patrons to use. Rachel, the librarian and Terrie, the quilting expert, are my co-organizers.


Arduino woman's at the community quilt event

The idea behind the quilt project was to get the community involved. Everyone makes a square! To take it to the next level though, the library wanted me to go electronic with an innovative design that everyone could help to create. At first, I wanted to add all kinds of sensors and speakers, buttons that would trigger sound-bytes of sewing stories, and of course it would be cool for the quilt to sense temperature and transmit weather data to an LCD! Then I realized that it would be best to take it back a step.  Though I wanted to challenge myself, I knew that members of the community would be experienced in quilting, but brand new to the tech.


Arduino at the Sunnyvale Public Library

With Fritzing to the rescue, I created a design using the sewable Lilypad Arduino microcontroller and broke it up into 9 squares. This way, we could print 9 pages and on the day of the workshop, each quilter could select which electronic design they would incorporate into their overall creativity of their contribution. This worked very well and was a great way to teach, make expectations clear, and collaborate on which square would look best with which added tech design!


Lilypad Arduino microcontroller

Sewing elements for the Arduino community quilt project

How were we going to connect all of the squares? Well, just like in all quilt designs, you leave a border of fabric around each square to create seams connecting everything together. But what about the conductive thread connecting our Lilypad Arduino and LEDs? I’m so pleased that my idea worked - it was a snap! On each square design, I indicated to sew conductive thread to a snap on the seam allowance, either on the center edge of the square, or on the diagonal. It matters to have the correct male and female snaps so that all the squares could be joined together.


workshops for young girl makers and their moms

The final Arduino community quilt project

Connecting the Arduino community quilt project

I love to teach wearable technology and it’s such a great way to get students into electrical engineering and sewing (an O.G. maker skill!). Young makers love the opportunity and responsibility to add electronics to their hats, t-shirts, bags, and more!  With a quilt, we’re still learning the sewing with electronics lesson while working together as a group to create something totally new. I’d be happy to share more details and guidance with any educator or workshop leader who would like to try to make a #CommunityQuilt with #WearableTech and #LilypadArduino.


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