chebe: (GoldenMask)
[personal profile] chebe
It's the first of October! Finally, my favourite month begins, and I can start throwing Hallowe'en things at you! *grin* I like this one, it's great when you're stuck for ideas, but still want something a little special. Just add LEDs! This is the simplest, most basic way to add LEDs with a soft circuit. The bigger circuits I do are just expansions of this one.

First, you need to gather the equipment:

  • Sewing needles (try to get ones with large eyes)

  • Pliers for twisting the legs of the LED; I like chain nose and bent chain nose

  • Scissors

  • Conductive thread

  • Regular thread

  • LED

  • 2-hole button just slightly larger than your LED

  • Coin cell battery (it depends on your LED, but I find 3V generally is the best bet. Again, depending on the LEDs, you can usually run 3/4 LEDs off one 3V battery.)

  • Strip of thick elastic, slightly wider than your battery

  • Something to put the LED into when finished, in my case, spare devil horn

Assumptions: You know very basic sewing; how to thread a needle, how to start a stitch with a knot, and how to finish a stitch.
Note: most pictures can be clicked for a larger image.

Prepare the LED:
1. Place the two legs of the LED through the two holes of the button.

2. Twist the legs with your pliers.

You will see that one leg is longer than the other. When twisting the legs I make sure and leave a little bit poking out of the longer leg, so I know which one it is. Usually the longer leg is the Positive terminal of the LED, and should connect to the Positive side of the battery.

I only use the bent chain nose pliers to flatten the twisted legs against the button. You can make do without them. Also, make sure you don't completely flatten them, you need to leave space to work a needle in and out later.

Turn the elastic into a battery holder:

0. This is the idea. You take just enough elastic to wrap around your battery, and when sewn to hold it snugly. But don't sew it up just yet!

1. Stitch the first battery terminal.

Thread a length of conductive thread into a needle. With the elastic open, sew a small patch (a few stitches side by side) near the bottom right. To make terminals that stand up a bit like a real battery holder, make a few knots. [I did this by putting the needle under the stitches already made, and wrapping the tail of the thread around the needle a couple of times. Pull the needle through, making sure the knot tightens at the elastic.] This is now the inside of the battery holder. Then made a couple more stitches, and finish on the other/out -side of the elastic.

2. Attach a leg of the LED to this terminal.

On the outside of the elastic holder, stitch through the loop you made in one of the LED legs, wrap around again and again, making sure you get a good connection. I've found about 4/5 times is good, so long you keep the thread tight, and away from the other leg. When done, finish off with another stitch or two into the patch of conductive thread, and finish off with a knot or two.

[Conductive thread frays a lot. So now is a good time to seal your ends/knots. You can use fray-stop fabric glue, but it takes a while to dry. You can also use nail-polish, it dries quickly, but can become brittle and scratchy.]

You should know have something that looks like this:

3. Add the other battery terminal.

In the opposite corner make another terminal patch. When you come out on the outside of the battery holder you won't be under the LED like you were for the previous terminal. Just continue the line of thread towards the empty leg of the LED, and when you get there, wrap conductive thread around the leg as before. Finish off with just a knot. [And seal as before.] Do not make any stitches, you must keep the conductive thread on the outside. Also, make sure the two pieces of conductive thread do not touch. To secure this piece of conductive thread to the elastic, thread a piece of regular thread on a needle, and sew in place [look up the idea of 'couching'].

You should have something that looks like this:

4. Sew up the edge of the elastic.

Sew up the two shortest ends of the elastic with regular thread. You will see that you now have one conductive-thread-terminal on the top, and one on the bottom, of the elastic-battery-pouch.

Power it up:

Put the coin-cell battery in. It will only light up if you've put the battery in the correct way. If it doesn't light up, turn the battery around. If it still doesn't light up, make sure that your conductive thread, not even a fine frayed hair of it, doesn't touch the other line. If it does you've created a 'short', and your circuit won't work. You can attempt to fix this by separating the strands, and putting an insulator between them. 3D/puffy/plasticy fabric paint will do the trick, but make sure to let it dry.

Now all that's left to do is include it in your costume. I just happened to have a pair of hollow devil horns that I took off an old hair band. When attaching be careful not to put the conductive thread in contact with anything metal (e.g. metal hair clip). It might be a good idea to cover your little battery pouch with thick regular fabric if you need to.

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