Our team was inspired by the social justice issue of physical abilities. We were inclined to develop an adaptive garment that was human-centred and universal to all users. The reasoning behind this was due to a story about a friend who requires a wheelchair not being able to share clothing with a sibling who is able-bodied. When researching further, we realized there was also a gap in the accessible clothing market for formal silhouettes. Thus, we sought to create a garment with a formal silhouette that could be worn by both able-bodied folks and people with disabilities.
What it does
Our garment is meant to be a universal and a modular design that contributes to promoting human-centered design practices. Our coat has many features that aim to improve user experience and facilitate ease of donning and doffing for wheelchair users. Through this, the garment helps to expand the range of garments available to individuals in wheelchairs. As we took a modular design approach, our garment aims to promote and normalize the idea of creating every garment accessible to every individual.
How we built it
We draped, pattern drafted, and sewed a coat. Using the Stoll knitwear machine, we created a ribbed panel along the back shoulder line to create a stretchable component to the garment as an individual pulls it on through one armhole to the next. As formal coats tend to be more fitted around the side seam and sleeves, we decided to create a zipper in the underarm that could be unzipped in the donning and doffing process to reveal a mesh fabric that would add space in the garment. Zipping this panel closed would retain the fit of the garment. Using Velcro, we created a detachable panel on the center back of the garment below the waist that can be removed in order for individuals in wheelchairs to comfortably wear their garments and avoid undesirable bunching in the torso area that typically results from the tight fit of formal garments. As snap closures can be fussy and zipper closures can require effort on the user's part, we chose to use magnetic closures for the front of our coat. Additionally, we added an LED signal system on the left forearm using the Adafruit circuit playground express micro-controller. This signal blinks every 15 minutes and serves as a reminder to the wearer to adjust their position and allow their muscles to stretch if they have been in the same position for a prolonged time.
Challenges we ran into
Throughout the process, our team experienced some challenges. One of the first challenges that we ran into involved having to improvise due to not having access to slopers/blocks. Instead, our team draped basic blocks, transferred the pattern, and altered the pattern into a coat. Another challenge that we faced included not having the exact supplies we required and having to improvise our approach to achieve our goals.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud that we were able to achieve the product that we set out to create. We completed our goal within the time limit, met new people, and enjoyed ourselves during this weekend.
What we learned
Throughout the duration of this hackathon, our team learned various skills. We had the opportunity to experiment with the Adafruit circuit playground express and some LilyPad products. As well, our team experienced using the industrial Stoll knitting machines and developing a design using the 6D software to transfer to the embroidery machines.
What's next for ADAwear
In terms of the future of ADAwear, our team aims to further refine our prototype by fixing and improving current problematic areas. As well, we hope to continue to make our human-centred product more user-friendly by incorporating a GPS tracker and an emergency help button.