This years Valentine’s Day tutorial appears more complex than Stabby Valentine or last year's Hello Kitty Punchy Valentine, but thats just because of the obsessive amount of fancy French Knots! Yes, I admit I had way too much time on my hands!
Look beyond the embroidery and you’ll find a basic LED circuit with some hidden gems on how to sew with conductive thread, mark traces, and hide the circuitry. In the end you'll find that this project is a lot like Valentine’s Day… look deep, and you’ll see that love is in the details.
Step 1: Design Your Embroidery Pattern
I used a combination of heart patterns available on my Bernina sewing machine embellished with hand sewn French knots.
Step 2: Select Your Fabric
Select your base fashion fabric for the embroidery work. I chose a lightweight white corduroy fabric for its durability, weight, and stability. Using red and white thread and embroidery floss embellish the fashion fabric with your design.
Step 3: Choose Your Hardware
Choose your LEDs!
These are 1.8mm red light emitting diodes.
Select a battery holder.
I used a CR2032 battery holder from Keystone Electronics and available at DigiKey. I wrote a review of this product for The eTextile Lounge in January 2013.
Step 4: Design Your LED Circuit
Draw the electronic circuit strategically placing the LEDs into your embroidery design
positive trace is red the negative trace is black the light emitting diodes bridge the two traces the battery is on the right fabric edge
Step 5: Sew Your Traces
On a translucent piece of fabric, such as a gauze or organza, sew the positive trace with conductive thread and mark it with red thread or marker.
About an inch away sew the negative trace with conductive thread and mark it with black thread or marker. Place this conductive fabric on the reverse side of the fabric.
Step 6: Add Your LEDs
Using a straight pin to first stab holes thru the fabrics, insert the LEDs by pushing the metal leads from the front of the fashion fabric to the back lining. The metal leads will bend to connect with the positive and negative traces.
Step 7: Sew Your LEDs
Use a hand sewing needle with conductive thread to connect the positive metal lead to the positive trace.
Repeat the process for the negative metal lead to the negative trace.
Double check the LED lead's polarity before sewing them into the electronic circuit.
Step 8: Test
Test your circuit by using alligator clips to connect the battery.
Step 9: Sew Your Pillow
Once you are sure the circuit works, add trim, sew the front and back together, insert a pillow form, and sew in the battery holder using conductive thread.