Natalie Walsh’s Fiber-tastic Coat #WearableWednesday


It’s hard to forget Natalie Walsh’s fiber optic dress that we featured a while back on our blog. A delight of whirling strands, it is a futuristic flapper dress. Well, the owner of the the fiber optics company, Ants on a Melon, wanted his own stylish illuminated wear, and Natalie came through with this coat. The design follows the lines of a vintage tail coat, placing the tips of the fibers at the back flaps for a sparkle at each step. You can see her detailed construction on Instructables. The coat takes advantage of a specific flashlight assembly with attachable fiber optics. So, the first consideration is some smoke and mirrors to hide the unit. Natalie creates a long vertical pocket of similar dark fabric to conceal it. She could have chosen to place this inside the back of the coat, but why waste those fibers which contour the shoulders so nicely?


Once the placement of the fibers is decided, they must be stitched into place, which is the time consuming part. Natalie makes sure to secure them first in groups to hold them in place, and then works to whip them individually as they separate in the pattern. I thought they looked a bit unruly, and Natalie offers advice for dealing with the large clump.

What I have found is not to even try to comb them out, instead separate out a bundle at a time. I used around 12 fibers per bundle for this coat, and ended up with a total of 30 bundles, 15 per side.


The resulting coat is fabulous, and as with the dress, Natalie recommends trimming the fiber optic pieces in a layered style, much like hair. The layers really show up in the light painting shots and add to the movement of the piece. I’m sure the owner is loving his new wearable art, and it helps to show how easy it is for someone to create an illuminated wearable without having to start from scratch.


If you like drawing attention to lines with light, you might want to consider EL Wire as another option for clothing. It’s slightly thicker and faster to stitch. We have a great tutorial to make a Tron Hoodie that will have you glowing in a linear fashion, and yes, you can even have it done in time for your late night beach party. So, start sketching where you want your light to be–you can do this.

Tron Hoodie

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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