Introduction: DIY LED Stick Figure Costume

Picture of DIY LED Stick Figure Costume

I'm going to show you how to build a simple LED stick figure costume. This project is super easy providing you have basic soldering skills. It was a huge hit in our neighborhood. I lost count of how many people said this was the best costume they had seen that night and how cool they thought it was. It seemed like every single house we went to had something to say about it.

I've seen other tutorials on how to do this but none detailed the LED connections the way I felt they needed to be detailed for beginners. Hopefully this makes it easy enough for anyone to complete this project in just a few hours.

Video of the final product can be seen above. Bonus video at the end of this Instructable!


Step 1: Gather the Materials

Picture of Gather the Materials

The following materials are all that you need for this build:

  • Roll of LED lights (Amaz on)
  • Wood Embroidery Hoop (A m azon)
  • Male / Female "JST" Connectors (Am azon)
  • 12V Rechargeable Battery Pack (A mazon)
    • Note, if the power pack does not come with a DC jack as mine did, you can buy one from Amazo n here .
  • Toddler Sized Hoodie & Sweatpants (A mazon)
  • Electrical Tape for electrical connections

The power supply is the most expensive component. It is rechargeable and can be used for many other projects. If you want to go a bit cheaper, you can substitute the 12 VDC supply for a standard 9V battery. The 9V won't be as bright or last as long but it is still quite good for most needs. Note: The 12 VDC supply shown here was tested for 5 hours straight and was still shining bright!

The Embroidery Hoop helps to keep the head clearly "defined" as a circle.

Step 2: Gather the Tools

Picture of Gather the Tools

You need the following tools for this project:

  • Soldering Iron (and solder, flux, etc.)
  • Hot Glue
  • Wire Strippers / Cutters

Step 3: Cut the LED Strips

Picture of Cut the LED Strips

Cut the LED strips for the suite. You will be making a total of 5 strips which will eventually turn into 6 (will explain why later).

The length of your cuts will vary depending on the size of the outfit you have. The most important thing to remember is that LED strips have a "cut line" that is typically every 3 LEDs. It is clearly marked on the LED strips as a line or may contain "scissors" indicating the place to cut. You may have to cut your strips slightly short or long depending on where your cut-lines fall.

Cut the 5 strips to length using the hand drawn diagram. The longest strip will be the one that extends from the torso area up and around the head.

Step 4: Build the Pants

Picture of Build the Pants
  1. Solder a wire to the positive connection on each of the two LED strips
  2. Twist and solder the two positive leads together
  3. Repeat the process for the two negative leads
  4. Attach a male or female JST connector to these leads (It doesn't matter which you use. You just need to use the opposite on the hoodie side)
  5. Secure the LED strips to the pants using the peel off tape from the LEDs and hot glue at the top where the wires meet the LED strips. The hot glue will pretty much ruin the pants unless you're willing to invest a lot of time getting it out. That said, it does an amazing job keeping the LED strips in place and attached to the suite. You might be able to get away with using just the LED strip tape, but I would be willing to bet that it won't hold up for long.

Step 5: Build the Hoodie

Picture of Build the Hoodie
  1. Lay the arms in place on the hoodie
  2. Lay the center LED strip in place
  3. Cut the center LED strip where the arms meet (see photos)
  4. Solder the LED strips as shown in the hand drawn diagram
  5. Attach the LED strips using adhesive tape and hot glue as shown in the photos
  6. Insert wooden hoop to ensure proper fit. If needed, using hot-glue to hold hoop in place (I did not need to do this as it was a pretty tight fit)Wood
  7. Attach both the opposite JST connector AND two wires for power at the waste level point as shown in picture. Note: The DC power jack shown in this picture comes with the LED strip purchase.

Step 6: Power It Up

Picture of Power It Up

Connect the 12DC power source to the DC power jack and fire it up! If your connections are all good, it should immediately light up.

Step 7: Have Fun!

Once you're done have a blast! This costume was the hit of our neighborhood this year. Check out the reactions from the people in my video. Every house was like this! We had bus drivers and a pizza delivery guy stopping to say how great it was. Parents wanted to have their picture taken with him. It was so much fun and well worth the effort!


TheFrankTurk (author)2014-11-12

This is one of the great minimalist costume ideas of all time, and this is a great implementation/build.

Maybe I am the only one, but to me this is infinitely creepier than a zombie because it is so unreal and other-worldly.

I can't take credit for the original idea (saw it on YouTube last year) but I agree that for such a simple costume to build it can have a huge impact. As mentioned in my tutorial we had people stopping their cars when driving by (including a public transportation bus and pizza delivery guy) and constant comments of "that is the best costume I have ever seen!". Watch the videos with audio and you'll see what I mean. Thanks for the feedback!

PeteGriff65 (author)siliconghost2017-07-30

Hi, am doing this for a party in the U.K. & have purchased all the parts, but just need clarity on how to connect the strips to the power once it's all connected. The pic isn't very clear, thanks.

siliconghost (author)PeteGriff652017-07-30

I didn't realize that photo was so low quality. I will update it tonight with something that is easier to understand.

PeteGriff65 (author)siliconghost2017-08-11

Did you manage to get a better pic of the connection to the wires for the top/battery pack? Thanks

PeteGriff65 (author)siliconghost2017-07-31

Great, thanks. Great idea by the way & thanks for the tips. nearly bought this on Glowy Zoey site all made, but at over $200 including shpping to UK, it's an expensive outfit!

otto1007 (author)siliconghost2015-10-22

hi, I bought all the items on amazon, but the battery pack does not have anything to attach those male/female connector . I have no idea how you went from the little black and red wires into the battery pack- any help please...My son just loved your idea- he found it :). But I'm better with the sewing machine then wires :)


jimcathers (author)2014-11-11

i love this idea. Adorable, and it looks like it worked really well too! added to my favorites and following you now. I hope I remember next year when my baby boy will be walking by halloween! Thanks for the instructable!

siliconghost (author)jimcathers2014-11-11

Thanks Jim!

WinterG3 made it! (author)2017-07-02

Thanks for the instructions! Made a few small mods like adding a piece of velcro to the the hood and the inside of the sewing ring to give it a little more flexibility. Everyone loved it especially my three year old! Thanks again.

Here's a quick video of it in action:

siliconghost (author)WinterG32017-07-03

Awesome, nice work! Looks great!

pattyricks18 (author)2016-10-17

Can anyone explain the powering aspect a little deeper to me? It seems like the bottom legs are powered in parallel while the torso piece is in series. How does that work with the battery?

lgershen (author)2016-10-08

What size embroidery hoop should I get for a 4T hoodie and for a Mens Size Large Hoodie?

RitaM123 (author)2016-10-07

Do i need all 20 pairs of Male/ female connectors?

lgershen (author)2016-09-30

Where did the leads come from? Did you simply cut off the connectors
of the male/female connectors to twist together or did you use a type of
gauge spiral wire?

PrestonC9 made it! (author)2016-08-21

I made it! Great directions. Just a few things to add.
You need a "Size M coaxial DC power jack" Tip size 5.5mm O.D. x 2.1mm ID.

They prob have it on amazon too but that basically the female to the male on the power jack. You unscrew the femail and thats where you connect the wires. Thecenter is the negative...we like somone else had mentioned you just make sure you keep black with black and red with red.

Also that 4 connector recomended above would be choice.

Finally I got Female crimp on quick disconnects a variety pack from radio shack also it hook in the internal that was listed above. Jusy find the one that fits for you :)

siliconghost (author)PrestonC92016-08-21

Thanks for the feedback and photos! Really appreciate it. Two years later, I'm tempted to make this costume again for my son because it was such a huge hit.

PrestonC9 (author)siliconghost2016-08-21

Its great! The only thing that i noticed was that the piece i added earlier....used to come with it and not its just the red and black positive and neg...which means more flexibity on how to power but confused the heck out of me! I made one for myself. Used 2 rolls of led and didnt have to sauder. But i did use the clamp connectors for the of all IS I DIDNT HAVE TO MELT METAL ONE TIME! i just stuck the two led sticky sides together to where is made an almost rounded led...onky because i had such ample amount. Prob shaved 20 to 30 mins off

PrestonC9 (author)PrestonC92016-08-21

Apologies aboit all the rough spelling...via phone its hard to double check!

alcurb (author)2015-12-01

That is so funny. I love the concept and the impact of the illusion; your eyes are drawn to the stick figure and you can't see the person behind it ; you simply see and accept this animated figure walking along.

otto1007 (author)2015-10-22

My battery pack did not come with the plug/connector in picture 6. Do i order that extra? My son loves your costume, but I'm better with the sewing machine :) Hopefully somebody still reads this thread

Thank you

siliconghost (author)otto10072015-10-24

Can you post pictures of what you have?

otto1007 (author)siliconghost2015-10-24

Hi, I figured it out. I ordered the DC power Jack or better i ordered a pack of 5 male and female. Thank you so very much for answering so quickly. Im starting tomorrow morning, If I have another questions, is it ok to contact you. Im a mom and not that great with electric wiring, but your diagram and instuctions are great, so I'm gonna give it a shot

Happy Halloween

LauraB57 (author)2015-10-08

Do you know if that 12V, 3800mAh battery pack will work for a RGB LED strip? My son just has to make things more complicated! Or do I need to get 6000mAh? I don't know what these numbers mean! These are the lights I got: Thank you for the idea and the help! (PS thank you CityGirl for the connector info!)

siliconghost (author)LauraB572015-10-24

Laura, did you get things working?

LauraB57 made it! (author)siliconghost2015-10-24

I sure did! Last night was the trial run at our school's trunk or treat and he got lots of compliments! I had to do things a little differently because they shipped a connector for single lights instead of RGB lights and I didn't have time to get the right one ... and I didn't have a clue how to solder wires for RGB :) So I had to make do with the single connector clip that came with the light set. I used that to separate the bottom from the top so he would be able to put it on. Since I could only do one connection I had to double back on the arms and legs. But you couldn't really tell when the lights were on ... it just looked like a thicker line of lights. Also, I got a battery pack that held 8 AA batteries instead of the rechargeable one. It was a lot cheaper and I was worried I would run out of juice and not be able to do anything about it while we were out. Thank you so much for the inspiration and input!

siliconghost (author)LauraB572015-10-09

Laura, yes, it will work with the RGB strips as well! Good luck!

iam_maker_leo (author)2014-11-19

Kid is too cute...

I see your project well

Ayush Sharma (author)2014-11-17

Omg, That looks so Cute!

LE-RZ (author)2014-11-14

Amazing don't need to bring a flashlight you'll never get lost!!!

CityGirl70 (author)2014-11-13

Great costume! I love that the 12 volt DC is rechargeable. For those of you that dont solder you can use these connectors instead.

siliconghost (author)CityGirl702014-11-14

CityGirl, I had no idea such connectors existed! Thank you for letting me know! You just made this project from easy to SUPER EASY! I'm going to order some today and update my Instructable when they come in.

The DC PowerPack is awesome but just a couple of annoyances if you get it:

1.) It takes a long time to charge (like 10 hours)

2.) You must turn it on in order to charge. It doesn't say this anywhere in the instructions. I discovered through the online reviews. I was originally afraid to do this because the charge input and power output are the same power jack.

Aside from those two things, I highly recommend it!

samalert (author)2014-11-11

This was kid's will never get lost ;p. How much time did the LED stayed on just out of curiosity.

siliconghost (author)samalert2014-11-11

@samalert, we had it on for about 5 hours that night and it didn't dim one bit! That rechargeable 12v battery pack is amazing. I have yet to test to see the max time it can go before needed a recharge. He was a perfect flashlight for the rest of us that night!

About This Instructable




Bio: I love combining software, electrical, and mechanical engineering to come up with unique and fun projects. I'm not a chef, but love to cook ... More »
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