Maddy Maxey lit up the runway last week at the ZAC Zac Posen show, where the Made with Code collaboration dress made its debut. I got a chance to ask Maddy a few questions about the dress and her work!
Adafruit: You know we love LEDs, and there sure do seem to be a lot of them in the dress! What components were used to create the look?
Maddy Maxey: Our initial prototype used NeoPixel sequins soldered onto a copper braid. Our second iteration used 30 pitch NeoPixel strips which made for something much more robust.
See our BOM below to see everything that went into the dress on the runway!
- NeoPixel strip
- sewable NeoPixels
- Adafruit FLORA
- Adafruit flex perma-proto
- i2c eeprom chip
- 6AH battery
- RGB cable
- black cotton muslin
- mini lipoly USB charger
- JST ports
- fairy lights
- 100mF capacitor
- 250 ohm resistor
- 4.7k ohm resistor
- diffusion fabric
What were the benefits working with FLORA and NeoPixels for this project?
NeoPixels and Flora make working with programmable LEDs so easy! Much of the magic is in the NeoPixel library. Getting up and running with NeoPixels and a Flora takes about 10-15 minutes.
What about this particular dress made it suitable for adding so much tech?
This dress has a wide mesh overlay that made it easy to hide our LED shield without hiding the pixels. For this build, we created a modular system as we only had 6 weeks to get things runway ready. By building a shield for the dress, we could “plug and play” the night before the show!
What was the biggest challenge in creating this project, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for this project was our timeline. We had just a few weeks to do everything from designing the circuit, to prototyping the build, to writing code. We had little room for error!
How did you get interested in coding and electronics?
I generally love making things and got interested in coding about 2-3 years ago. From there, it was a slippery slope from web dev to physical computing. As a friend of mine so beautifully put it, “there’s nothing like having the power to create and manipulate the world around you”. I feel as though code, electronics and fabrications in general allow for just that.
What was it like to work with Zac Posen and the Made with Code team?
It was such a wonderful and informative experience to work with such talented teams. The Made With Code team is incredible at messaging and storytelling and the Zac Posen team really knows how to make beautiful and creative garments. I learned so much from being involved in such a large project.
What is the next project you have planned that combines electronics and fashion?
I’m currently doing an artist residency at Autodesk and I’m working on making conductive inks that can be plotted onto textiles to make circuits for prototyping and general use! Part of this is also building a plotter or robot art to deposit the inks. I have a series of laser cut parts on my desk in SF that will make for the initial syringe extruder. I’m very excited to get back and start assembling!
Who are your role models in fashion, and in technology? Do any of them overlap?
I’m actually a huge fan of Adafruit and idolize companies and people who are changing supply chains, industries and making. In technology, I love what Autodesk is doing for creative technologists with Pier 9 and accessible software like Fusion 360. In fashion, I respect what companies like Patagonia are doing to improve sustainability. The connecting thread is that these companies are choosing to fill voids that extend further than building a web app, or creating another runway season to add to the pile.
If you could give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Ask your father what he’s doing whenever he’s building something. Do not argue with your mother as she is always right.