I hope to cover all aspects of this dress creation, but for now I'm starting with the simplest part. Sailor Moon's Princess Serenity often has a flower in her hair in manga and fan art. I wanted lots of lights and saw the flower as another opportunity.
Project Materials used:
- Big fake flower
- Flexible wire
- My pick was this thin 30AWG wire that is flexible like cooked pasta
- Gemma from Adafruit
- 1 Neopixel from Adafruit
- You can get the Gemma and neopixel in this handy starter pack
- Alligator clips
- Soldering iron
- Wire cutter
- Wire stripper
New to electronics? I got my gear from Adafruit in Ladyada's Electronics Toolkit. Gave me everything I need for a great price.
Essentially, I sewed a neopixel attached to a Gemma into a flower. I'm not an electronics expert so I'm going to drop yet another link back to Adafruit. To learn all about neopixels, read their full guide.
I started by hooking up my gemma and neopixel via clips to work out the coding on the lights.
|Wires everywhere! The neopixel hooked up to the gemma.|
There's plenty of resource code in the Arduino library for color changing. I had to work out (with the help of my computer science husband) what colors I wanted to cycle and how fast to cycle them. I went with a six color rotation: blue, pink, purple, green, orange, white. Each color stays for around 5-7 second before taking another 5 seconds to shift to the next color.
The colors and timing is completely by feel. I spent around an hour tweaking both until I had a combination that I liked. I wanted it to shift fast enough that someone passing by would see the change, but slow enough that it doesn't look like a rave on my head.
|Flower color and placement testing.|
Next, I started to sew/pin things into place. I knew I wanted the gemma on an outside petal so I could easily turn it on/off. The neopixel placement required more finesse. It can't go directly in the middle and shot out as that would just blind people. I conclude to put it towards the 'bottom' of the flower and shoot up through the petals. I sewed and cut the inside petals into better positions for the light.
With positions marked, I took it all apart to solder the neopixel and gemma together. I ran the wire from my marked positions to get an idea for length, then added an inch. I don't want the wire too tight; I want it to flow.
|Flower with neopixel sewn in and gemma outside. Those are the thin, flexible wires from Adafruit.|
The perk of using gemma and neopixels is that they are made for wearables, so you have these large pads you can sew though. I sewed the gemma and neopixel into place using the holes I did not solder.
|Gemma - sewable and small!|
The gemma unit is on the 'top' of the flower. To hold down the petal hiding it, I used a small strip of velcro. The neopixel sits on the bottom of the flower. The wire to the pixel is all white so I can run it through the flower petals without bring attention to it. It meant for keeping careful track of things when soldering!
I feel like it's cheating on a Usagi wig as I knew I had buns that I could wrap the unit around. Another cheat was a lot of fan art with pearls wrapped around the buns. My theory was to make the flower a chain in a bracelet. I would hide a side release buckle behind smaller flowers to allow the unit to clip around the bun.
My original plan was to make the battery unit a part of the bracelet with more flowers hiding it. However, I underestimated the weight of the coin batteries and had to make it a separate piece (but still attached because of wires and power - duh!)
I glued two more pink flowers on the top of coin battery pack to disguise it, then did a sew/glue combo on the bottom to attach a hair clip. The batteries now clip into my hair as extra decoration.
|From the back, battery pack helps to hide my natural hair color while powering the flower.|
The final result is a hairpiece that is sure to light up the night!