Reengineering the Wheel

Over the weekend, I redrafted my glove pattern. Previously, I had used the generic glove pattern that I found on the original Mi.Mu dev-blog as the base for my old gloves. For the next iterations, I wanted to have them fit my hands without any weird finger lengths (on me) and to try a few ways to route the wiring inside of the gloves. I should note here that I have quite disproportionally small hands with long fingers. Without exaggeration, I have the hand size of a woman 23cm shorter than I, so having to make my own pattern eventually was a given.

I started with this bad-boy sketch to think my way through the entire process from drafting to fitting the electronics.

Rough sketch for the new drafting pattern.

I want to have a few links that can be decoupled to make getting the gloves faster to put on and remove. The current test version has an elasticated armband that remains separate from the glove itself. I ended up shortening the finger lengths (as shown in the paper pattern draft below) to keep more of my fingertips exposed in case of instrument-usage during performances.

Glove patterns always make me feel like I have the fattest fingers in existence.

I measured the lengths against all of the marked points in centimetres. I then did the same for the underside of my hand. The bottom is a slightly smaller pattern; this means that the gloves are not perfectly symmetrical on both sides. What it allows future me to do is quickly try out open palms, sensors on the palms, or any myriad of palm-specific location problems so that the fabric channels are accurate to my hand size.

Here’s the first test pattern realised:

One glove has zigzag stitching. Extra loose threads for your viewing pleasure.

The left glove has zigzag stitching, and the right has straight, stretch stitching. I have sewn them this way to see how the different stitches perform in Lycra/Spandex over time and how they alter the fit. Zigzag stitching makes the gloves slightly larger when using the same pattern. The straight stitching is a little tighter because the fabric stretch is limited in comparison. The stretch stitch on my machine performs a small back and forth movement over each straight stitch for strength in stretch material.

One has straight stitching.

I chose this vibrant fabric for two reasons. One, the southern hemisphere winter is bearing down on us, and I feel like I need some brightness. Two, I have some remnants to use up, and with the COVID-19 lock-down, I felt like going to a fabric store wasn’t a necessary trip when I have fabric plenty capable for testing purposes. The postage has also been infuriatingly slow, so I wanted to try SOMETHING before the start of the next millennium.

Alterations were made to the physical patterns based on the fit of the end product gloves. I tested glove one and altered the cut fabric for the second glove. I checked that it was successful and then altered the paper pattern accordingly. I initially left a little too much room on the outer edge of my palm for the underside of the glove. The fingers also needed to be marginally shortened and one of them did not have a straight finger opening, so this was corrected. Finally, I redesigned my channelling and button location and scanned it into the computer for safe keeping.

My printer is running out of toner.
You put your left hand in…
And then you shake it all about.

One of the traps that I get into in the designing process is planning the next version in my head as I’m in the process of making the current one. A function of wielding the sewing machine again is that I think about the whole performance attire – so now I have the pattern for a superhero costume. See you once I’ve finished wiring it up.

In thinking about the next design stage, I have ordered a variety of fabric. Amongst them are PowerMesh, four-way-stretch velvet, neoprene, and three types of Lycra. All of these are in a selection of colours. The neoprene will be used for mounting buttons and securing the glove and wristband (perhaps with a fabric snap). The PowerMesh will be used to create a glove with a two-layer top, and the sensor channels stitched directly into the two layers. This would let me be slightly either more fanciful with the colour scheme or to use a more sheer material for the bulk of the glove construction. The velvet is for a more “luxe” feeling glove – in case I’m ever swanning about in front of a piano, in a sparkly dress, singing sultry jazz with electroacoustic embellishments. The Lycra/Spandex is my old reliable. Due to the different colours, I can choose to make a fuss over the wiring channels, i.e. make them a visible feature, or have them blend in. I am also researching different conductive materials, ribbons, webbing, and threads for durability vs cost-effectiveness.

Here’s hoping the next one of these is the new set up ready for performance. Still, if my new Arduino boards would get here (so I could complete my electronic component revision) sometime in the next three years, I’d be eternally (re: temporarily) grateful to the US and Australian postal services.

The now ubiquitous social media marker for a completion milestone.