Book Preview: "Practical Fashion Tech" by Joan Horvath, Lyn Hoge, and Rich Cameron

By Joan Horvath, Lyn Hoge, Rich Cameron

This book is the result of a collaboration between two technologists and a veteran teacher, costumer, and choreographer. They came together to pull back the curtain on making fun and innovative costumes and accessories incorporating technologies like low-cost microprocessors, sensors and programmable LEDs.

Fashion tech can require skills in design, pattern-making, sewing, electronics, and maybe 3D printing. Besides the tech skills, making a good costume or accessory also requires knowledge of the intangibles of what makes a good costume. Regardless of whether you are coming at this from the theater costuming, sewing, or electronics side, the authors will help you get started with the other skills you need.

More than just a book of projects (although it has those too), Practical Fashion Tech teaches why things are done a certain way to impart the authors’ collective wealth of experience. Whether you need a book for a wearable tech class or you just want to get started making fantastic costumes and wearables on your own, Practical Fashion Tech will get you there. 

A sample of the authors’ practical advice is found in Chapter 2, “What is a Costume”:

Before you get too far into this book, think about what kind of project you want to do ultimately. This may change as you learn more about what is possible, but having a goal will both motivate you and keep you from going down too many isolated tech explorations, resulting in never having a cool finished product. Flip through the project chapters (Chapters 8 and 11) to see if something jumps out at you.

If you are a teacher laying out a class, you might want to come up with a few types of final projects that will narrow down the possibilities a little. For example, you might suggest that they create props for some part of a school theater production that happens near the end of the course.

Alternatively, the whole class can work on one historical costume piece that has a lot of detail and accessories. They can all participate in different levels of its creation. It is inspiring to work as a group, and they can learn to collaborate and express their ideas. Another good final project is to have each student choose one character in one scene from a play, design the costume and accessories, and then build the entire look.