For this challenge I wanted to create a running vest with an integrated LED system. The idea behind this was to create a garment that would make running safer in low light. Many people have to run either early in the morning or in the evening because their jobs keep them occupied during the lighter hours. Reflective fabric is good but doesn’t work until light is shining directly on it and so often doesn’t become very useful until cars/bikes are quite close to the runner, especially on corners. Having a light on the back of the garment should make the wearer more visible and thus safer around traffic.
I made the vest out of jersey material for warmth (collar to be added later), created my design in the fabric and then laid a light strip around the outside of the design. Even this low level light source was very visible in darker conditions and in further iterations I would experiment with brighter lights and different placements. I was also limited with fabric but would vent the side panels to allow for garment breathability.
The battery pack is always an issue with running vests as they are bulky and bounce when someone is running. I attached the battery low on the hips at the back of the jersey and would (time allowing) attach gripped elastication to the bottom of the jersey which would hold the pack more in place as well as creating a slimmer, more streamlined battery pack which distributed the weight more evenly across the hem of the jersey.
This is low level tech integration (lights) into garments but, I believe that it would make a big difference to the safety of people who run at dawn/dusk/night and, since it is so low-tech, it is achievable now. I hand stitched this in about 8 hours. With a sowing machine and professional processing this is a very achievable product and is one that, I believe, could be popular.