Business

Technology: Even more in fashion

NEW YORK — With her carefully styled blond hair, expertly applied makeup and fashionable blue dress, nothing about Alison Lewis even hints at the word nerd.

But ask her about circuits or light-emitting diodes and you'll see that she is equally familiar with switches and soldering irons as with swatches and seams.

Her book, Switch Craft: Battery-Powered Crafts to Make and Sew, brims with instructions for projects that combine technology with clothing and accessories. For instance, there's a music-blaring bag, a pillow with a cell phone headset, an illuminated skirt, and wriggling squids for cats to play with.

Lewis, who is 34 and lives in Philadelphia, wants to communicate that technology doesn't need to be complicated or unfriendly. In fact, it can be approachable and stylish enough to tote or wear around town.

This idea of adorning clothing with wires and LED lights might sound incongruous. But electronics have seeped deeply into our lives. You might care as much about remembering your cell phone and MP3 player as your wallet and keys when you leave the house. And if you're already toting these gadgets with you, why not integrate their functions with your hat or bag?

Lewis' work also speaks to the popularity of crafting — the hand-fashioning of everything from afghans to zombie dolls — and do-it-yourself electronics. Both have swelled during the past few years, helped by publications like O'Reilly Media Inc.'s Make and Craft magazines and Web sites like handmade marketplace etsy.com and online crafting community Craftster.

Besides Lewis' book, the culmination of 2½ years of work with artist and designer Fang-Yu Lin, she hosts a Web video show called Switch that integrates fashion and technology. And she has co-taught a fashion technology class at Parsons The New School for Design in New York.

But Switch Craft could bring her widest audience thus far, buoyed by a mini-flurry of similar fare released in the past year. This includes the book Fashioning Technology: A DIY Intro to Smart Crafting by designer and friend Syuzi Pakhchyan, and a book that explores the intersection of clothing and technology by Lewis' co-teacher at Parsons, Sabine Seymour.

"This is going to change the way people craft," Lewis says.

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