I confess, I'm an EL Wire addict. I add it to anything I can think of for any occasion. While getting ready for a cruise over the summer that had a formal night, I thought it would be a great idea to add EL wire to a suit and vest to stand out from the crowd. There are lots of tutorials about using EL wire by sewing it on with fishing line. This is a great and easy technique when it will be dark the entire time and you arn't up close to other people to spoil the majic. But since I would be in light and moving around in crowds, I wanted it to look a bit more finished. This is also great for wedding receptions (just don't upstage the groom) and holiday parties. This is what I did...
Step 1: Materiels and Planning
- You will need the suit and vest that you are going to work on. I got both of mine from a thift shop. You don't want to cut up your $2,000 suit to do this. Both were 50% off on the day I got them, so I spent $10 on the coat and $3 on the vest.
- The EL wire I got off of Amazon. The blue for the vest was a 15ft piece for under $11. The white I used on the jacket was a 9ft piece like this one.
- The real trick to this was the clear vinyl sheet that I used to sew the EL wire onto the jacket. I found it as scrap near where I work. But basically it is just a heavy duty clear plastic that can be easily cut, but will hold up to being sewn.
- A standard sewing kit with a seam ripper.
Planning is key when using EL wire. You want a single continuous strand to go to various places but not be visible where you don't want it. For the vest, I started with the battery pack in my pocket and worked around from there. The diagram shows you the flow. The parts highlighted in green are where the wire is visible, the pencil lines are where the wire is hidden. For the coat, I used the same idea placing the battery pack on the inside pocket and then working my way around from there.
Step 2: Sew Your Glow
Cut your clear plastic to to strips about an inch wide and the length of whatever part you are working on. Fold the plastic around the EL wire and then sew it into place using normal string. This is the same process you do for adding any kind of border. The excess plastic lays flat behind the pocket and out of sight, giving your vest a super clean look (no fishing line stitches).
Follow your plan doing each section, and then running the wire back inside of the jacket out of site to run it to the next spot. I also recommend wrapping the El wire that shouldn't be seen in tape to prevent light from bleeding through the material.
I finished season 4 of Walking Dead while I was sewing. This is going to take a lot of time doing it by hand.
Step 3: Finishing Up
I wanted the coat to be a bit more finished, so along the lapel instead of just sewing the plastic along the back side, I actually split the seam and ran the plastic in between the two layers of material and then stitched it back together. Again, I did this extra step because I wanted to make this look like it was still a nice suit wen the lights were on and the EL wire wasn't. The only place I ended up using the fishing line was along a surface stitch I did around the breast pocket. There was no way I could hide the clear plastic, so I bit the bullet and used the clear line.
Get ready to answer questions about your awesome suit. I couldn't walk ten feet on the ship without someone stopping me to tell me how awesome it was. Little did they know I did it all for under $30.