Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Iteration project – Eric Hallstrom

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

This project turned out to probably be the most failed project in this course so far for me. I had two objectives, make a pouch with a 3D printer side and make a traffic light brodery picture on one side that lights up each light as you drag the zipper. Both of these objectives was to upgrade my previous sewn pouch that had neither of these features. However, the 3D printer side turned out to be really good but the failure was me sewing the fabric side way to tight so the pouch looks like a tight bended banana. Because of this failure my second objective failed because the room for the zipper is very tight and the pouch isn’t even straight.

Even though I had to drop the big failure of the project to begin with, let’s start explaining the journey that led up the failure. I got the idea to make the one sided pouch when we brainstormed ideas during last lecture and was very intrigued by the idea of combining different material. I also wanted to remake the pouch because I really enjoyed sewing last time we did that.

This project was basically divided into three parts. The first part was the 3D printing part where I got lots of help from Andrew. We did the print on the tassle 3D printer which was quite hardcore and I’m certain that it wouldn’t go as smooth as it did with Andrew’s help. The print took 29h and I didn’t have access to printer outside opening hours so the small success in this project is definitely because of Andrew.

The second part was the sewing part, this part consists of sewing the fabric to a pouch and combining the printed side with the fabric. The sewing part went fine and I managed to add a zipper inside the pouch which was a nice feature and helped a lot when working with the soft circuits inside. Not to be forgotten a big part of this was to do the actual brodery. I did a more minimalistic traffic light compared to the previous pouch I made. It took some time to get used to the software for the brodery which I can now say have a horrible interface. For example I made the patch to fit inside the rectangular piece you and sent it to the machine but nothing showed up. After about 30 min of trouble shooting someone said it won’t show up if the patch is to large and that was exactly what the problem was, it was to large. The brodery went  fine up to a point when the thread got stuck in the handle a top of the sewing machine :


Thread spool got stuck in the handle.

Ouch, sry Duncan

New patch with fill stitches.

Old patch with satin stitches.









With the completed patch I could start sewing the inside and outside fabrics together which went fine but required some repetition to get my head around the flip it outside in part.

Now on to the third part where the soft circuit came into picture. I really messed up the last soft circuit I did because of the conductive thread was way too close to each other so I spent a significant amount of time thinking of how I should do this. My plan was to have a 3 rails just beneath the main zipper and then fasten the positive side on the zipper that would touch and slide along with the rails where each rail was connected to a LED’s positive side so when sliding past that railing the circuit would close and the LED would light up. This turned out to work really well actually. Mostly because I did the circuit very carefully because of the lessons learned from last time.


Circuit on my first pouch

Diagram of how to connect the LED with the rails

Inside of the new pouch

Clean circuit on the new bag!

New circuit















The pitfalls during this project was clearly my failure of executing the most vital with perfection. I really made sure that I wouldn’t fall into the failures I did on the last iteration and I can clearly say that I spent a significant amount of just thinking instead of doing.


The stuff I learned from this project is to have some sort of testing model that could be made of paper or something that resembled the actual bag. This is an interesting parallel to software development where I in most cases unit tests would have saved several hours of debugging and troubleshooting. Maybe a 3D model of the pouch would have helped but that would have been very time consuming. But the essence of my failure is the lack of failing fast. When I attached the 3D part with the fabric I just kept going and didn’t notice how tight it was until it was time to flip the bag inside out. Since this was the most vital part of the project several iterations would have been better than just doing it in one go and notice how bad it turned out afterwards.


If I had more time on this project I would have corrected my mistake and cut out a bigger piece of fabric to be on the front so I would have more slack in the pouch and it wouldn’t look like a uptight banana.

To conclude this project I didn’t meet my two initial objectives, 3D printed side of the pouch and a sliding LED circuit. Reasons for this was that it turned out that the sliding LED rail was depending on a straight bag. I guess it’s good to have independent objectives when doing a project. Even though my failures this project was really fun and required a significant amount of time, more than any other project which is one reason for my disappointment because I spent so much time and turned out to be the worst project so far. But I’m still stoked on sewing and as Winston would say, success is the ability to go from failure to failure.  


Completed pouch, like a banana..

Previous completed pouch


Last pouch, you can see that I didn’t had enough stabiliser behind the patch so it looks ugl

You can’t see the bend!

3D printed holes to be able to sew.

Zipper failed because of too tight fabric

Sewing went actually good because of the pre printed holes.

One side put together!

Inside view

Second patch, this didn’t fail!

Inner zipper.

With the letters, the print is 1 cm thick, way to thick for this actually..

The print turned out really nice

It bends!


30h later