Introduction: Halloween E-textiles

Sew your own pumpkin and skull LED decorations!

Step 1: Materials

2 LilyPad LEDs (You can use regular LEDs too. Twist the leads using pliers using this tutorial.)
1 CR2302 coin cell battery
1 battery holder
1 yd conductive thread

1/4 sheet white felt (for skull)
1/4 sheet orange felt (for pumpkin)
2 x 1/4 sheet black felt (for background)
black embroidery floss
sewing needle (note: the eye needs to be small enough to fit through the battery holder)
needle threader
scissors

pattern for skull and pumpkin [pdf]

optional
1 set of alligator clips (to test the circuit)
fabric glue
chalk (for marking the black felt)
puffy paint or clear nail polish (for preventing the conductive thread from fraying)

Step 2: Test Your Circuit (optional)

The positive end of the battery holder has an “E” shape.  The LEDs have their positive (+) and negative (-) marked.  With the battery in the holder, connect it to the positive (+) of the LED.  Connect the negative (-) end of the battery to the negative end of the LED.  Your LED will light up!  Be aware, the LED must be connected this way.  If you flip it around, it won't turn on.

Below are figures showing how to test your circuit.  The LED circuit is one the we just built.  The colors represent alligator clips.

Now, connect your two LEDs in series.  The negative side of one LED is connected to the positive side of the next.  What happens? The LEDs will not turn on because the battery doesn't have enough vlotage.

Now, connect your two LEDs in parallel.  In this case, the positive sides of the battery and two LEDs are connected together.  The negative sides are connected too.  Now what happens?  Both LEDs should light up.

You will be sewing your LEDs in parallel for your pumpkin or skull.

Step 3: Cut Your Pattern and Felt

Cut your pumpkin or skull using the paper pattern (pdf).
Use the paper pattern as a template and cut your shape from felt.
Use the chalk to outline the eyes on the black felt (optional).  This will help you place the LEDs.

Step 4: Sew LEDs to Felt

Position LEDs with the positive (+) sides up.
With the conductive thread, sew the positive ends together.  Sew into each component 2-3 times.  Sew them down tight! 
Cut the thread.
Sew the negative ends together.

Make sure the positive and negative ends of the thread are separate!  If they touch, your LEDs will not light up.

Step 5: Sew Battery Holder to the Back

Sew the battery on the opposite side, connecting the positive end of the battery holder to the positive ends of the LEDs.  Sew the negative end of the battery holder to the negative ends of the LEDs.  Add in your battery and your LEDs should light up!

Snip the tails of your conductive thread so it doesn’t touch the battery. You can use puffy paint or clear nail polish to coat the ends.

Step 6: Troubleshooting and Finishing

Troubleshooting

Does your circuit flicker?  Your components may be too loose.  Sew them down tighter.
Do the tails of your conductive thread touch the battery? Cut them shorter.
Did you cut your thread when you sewed your LEDs?  Positive and negative should not be touching each other.

Finishing

Glue or sew the face to the felt.
Attach a embroidery floss for hanging.  Or use magnets and stick your creation to the fridge, suction cups for the window, or safety pins to hang it on the curtains.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, check out my other e-textiles kits at www.bitwiseetextiles.com. Happy Halloween!


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Bio: Part engineer, part crafter, now academic, I enjoy engaging in learning through informal environments, such as makerspaces. Follow me on facebook: facebook.com/bitwiseEtextiles
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