Belle’s Dress Gets Gazillion LEDs #WearableWednesday

I’ve been counting down the days to #WearableWednesday to reveal this awesome dress by Teresa Roberts. She’s a data processor/costumer/mega-mom, and her daughter really wants to be Belle when they visit Disney World this year. From the looks of this dress, Disney better invite her daughter to dance in the Electric Light Parade, or they may find themselves losing their audience to a petite Belle!

Time to get into the electric wizardry on the dress. Teresa used four Lilypad ATmega 128 boards connected to approximately 600 LEDs. You’ll find warm white at the edge of the skirt, red swirling on the front panel of the dress, and ultra bright clear twinkling on the body of the skirt. Since these are traditional LEDs, she had to use the correct resistors, which definitely makes for some fancy circuitry. One of the challenges Teresa faced making the dress was dealing with conductive thread over long distances. She quickly learned that the resistance was going to make that impossible, so she opted for some 24 gauge coated speaker wire, so she wouldn’t have to worry about shorts.


My favorite part about the dress is the use of EL wire for Belle’s iconic rose. This is the second time I’ve seen it used for imitating embroidery, and I just love the effect. You’ll also see some EL wire gently edging the center of the bodice, which is also a nice touch. Teresa used a USB converter for the EL wire and also powers the dress with three C batteries. There’s a lot going on. In fact, she mentions that she had to adjust the LED brightness so it wouldn’t overpower the rose. When working with so many different lighting effects, it’s really smart to remember where you want to keep the attention.


This is Teresa’s second costume using electronics, and needless to say, she is giving it her all. Her dream would be to combine her programming and sewing skills as a costumer for Disney. So, if anyone has any Disney connections, please get Teresa an interview before she gets snatched up by some other company. As for the rest of you costumer wannabes, you should get started learning about stitchable circuits with our FLORA Budget Pack. It’s got our FLORA microcontroller, NeoPixel LEDs, conductive thread, battery pack and all the cables you need to get going. So, take the guesswork out of your first project and get right down to stitching and programming. Then you just have to worry about ordering late night pizza for your new addictive hobby.


Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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