After many iterations……
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a Chibitronics fan. So when I saw an adorable strawberry stuffie project on their site, I knew I wanted to make my own version. These adorable chibi stickers are great for paper circuits, but I wasn’t sure how they would hold up in a sewing project. I ended up failing a lot and making about four different versions before I was able to get the really cute strawberry pictured above.
I decided I wanted to use the new tropical stickers and attempt to use an effect sticker to have some control over my pulsing LED stickers. So I busted out my Effects pack , mapped out my circuitry and used a Lilypad battery holder to power my project. Sewing the effect stickers worked brilliantly! It worked great and withheld being punctured by my sewing needle.
However, in my first stuffie iteration I used too many chibi LEDS. Initially, I really wanted to try switching the polarity to see how the different colored LEDS would pulse in opposite rotation. (See Jie’s tutorial here.) You can see this effect in the Instagram below. I thought it looked super cute, but when it was time to sew my stuffie together, my circuits started shorting. I thought I’d maybe overloaded the battery attempting to use so many LEDs.
Plus, the material I used for the body of the strawberry was too stretchy and the topside of the fabric was too fluffy. Either my threads were shorting in the stretchy fabric, or the LEDs were losing connectivity because of the surface of the fabric, or I had too many LEDs for my battery. I wasn’t sure. Chibitronics are made for paper, so I suspected the fabric was the real problem. Rather than ditching the fabric my daughter chose for her strawberry, I started thinking about ways I could ensure connectivity. How could I debug and get all the elements I wanted?
First off, I had to realize that blushing cheeks would be more adorable without all the other blinkiness going on above, so I cut back on my amount of LEDs. My second debugging idea was to sew conductive fabric tape on my stuffie for the copper pads of my Chibi stickers to stick to. This worked at first, but then when I attempted flipping my stuffie inside out to sew together, one of my LEDs went out again. At this point, I had one LED working well, but the other just kept shorting. For my third debugging trick, I fused interfacing to the inside of the strawberry fabric so I could see my lines of circuitry more clearly. This helped ensure that my sewn circuits didn’t cross, but it also helped sturdy up my fabric.
I sewed my circuits a third time, but still had one Chibi sticker that wouldn’t stay lit. So I added a Lily LED to the inside of my fabric to check my sewn circuits, it lit up! I’d sewn everything correctly. The culprit in my short circuit was not my circuitry, but actually the way I was attempting to sew the stickers to the strawberry. I was busting the chibi LED the way I’d sewn it making it work only intermittently. I looked at my functioning chibi LED to determine what I’d done right. I’d sewn up from the edge of the sticker AND down into the pre-existing holes on the Chibitronics stickers. I’d looped multiple times and used a very skinny sewing needle.
Fourth time is a charm! I re-sewed my last chibi sticker with my debugged ideas and finally…. got this little plushie just right!
Next Chibi Project?
I’m so stoked to play around with Jie’s new board for Chibitronics that can clip right to a paper circuit! Right out of the box, I modified one of our projects from the book Aaron and I wrote together. I quickly uploaded a blink sketch FROM MY PHONE! The video below is my first sketch that I’ve already changed a few times. Now, I’m excited to play around and mash some Lilypad components with paper circuits. More tinkering to come!