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Start Clapping–it’s the Neon Frenzy Dress #WearableWednesday


You might think this dress is from Project Runway, but actually it was developed by a group of inspired teachers at Constructing Modern Knowledge Institute–an unusual conference for educators. Teachers become makers and work in teams to create projects that will help teach the next generation, all in cozy New Hampshire. This year’s trip even included a visit to MIT’s Media Lab, but let’s get back to the awesome dress!

The project nicknamed Neon Frenzy is an applause sensing dress. The teachers started their work with an Adafruit FLORA and added some NeoPixel strips and a microphone. They ran into some trouble when the conductive thread started heating up.

Because the strips of NeoPixel LEDs drew so much power (there were 204 lights altogether), the thread just couldn’t handle the current and the strips were “going to red.”  They would go from working to just shining a dim uniform red color.

They quickly shifted to wire and then things got brighter. They used a mix of different NeoPixel strips, and you can see how some of the pixels appear closer together on one of the strips. Go Neo Tassel!


This group was great with documentation and you can tell they were having fun testing the applause sensing feature. They were able to use existing code from another Adafruit project and learned how open source code is meant to be manipulated and shared, which was a great takeaway for the team.

Another challenge faced by the group was the ambitious sewing needed to make their dress from scratch. They ended up getting advice from another friend, as well as the staff at the craft store. Their fabrics of choice were faux satin for the underskirt and a sheer iridescent for the overskirt and cowl. Learning how fabrics behave, and understanding why it is helpful to cut on the bias, helped to make the dress hang gracefully.


You can see the cowl also has some glowing LED sequins, which are attached to a Lily Twinkle with conductive thread. It seems like something Princess Leia would have worn to her prom. Like Project Runway, the group did not have much time to construct the dress, but what they achieved definitely made a splash. It all comes from being engaged and having good planning throughout the process. Check out the applause meter and finished details.

For more pics of the project, check out the group’s Tumblr. Also, I mentioned that their code was from another Adafruit project–it was the Ampli-Tie. So, if you want to make a wearable that reacts to sound, you should be checking it out. It’s a great introduction to sensors, those things that just make our life a little more vivid. If you are a teacher, this is another fine STEAM opportunity for you. Have fun, and it’s definitely something you can wear to class.

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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