Introduction: How to Sew StitchLits

StitchLits are hand little sewing kits that contain everything you need to stitch tiny, sewable LEDs that into pretty much anything! Mod your favorite jacket, sneakers, purse, or toy! These little lights can live just about anywhere.

Step 1: Materials

Open up your kit and familiarize yourself with each item.
The kit (available on Etsy) contains:
(3) white sewable LEDs
(1) needle
(1) needle threader
(3) yards of conductive thread
(1) coin cell battery
(1) sewable battery holder
(1) snap to use as an on/off switch

You can also find these items through online electronic vendors (like Digikey and Sparkfun) and your local sewing store!

Step 2: Plan Your Circuit

Before you start sewing, it's important to know where the components of your circuit are going to live. In this example, we're just making a simple test patch, but if you're sewing your StitchLits into a piece of clothing, you might need to think more carefully about where you will place your LEDs and your battery.

Step 3: Get to Know the Polarity of Your Components.

Both the battery holder and the LEDs have positive and negative sides. It is very important that you connect the negative side of your LEDs to the negative terminal of the battery holder. The same goes for the positive. LEDs are polarized, which means they only work in one direction, so if you make the wrong connections your LEDs will not light!

Step 4: Thread the Needle.

Unspool a piece of thread that is a bit longer than twice the length that you want to sew. Thread the needle, using the needle threader if need be.

Step 5: Knot the Thread.

Pull the thread through the needle so that the end of the threads meet. You will be sewing with a double thread. Loop the ends tightly around your index finger, roll them between your thumb and index finger, and pull into a knot.

Step 6: Sew the Negative Terminal of the Battery Holder.

Be sure to loop through the hole several times, making sure your connection is tight and secure.

Step 7: Sew the Negative Terminals of Your LEDs.

Using the same piece of thread, sew the negative terminals of your LEDs. Remember - the negative side is marked by a blue stripe on the back of the LED. Be sure to pass the thread through the crimp beads several times to make sure that you have a secure connection.

Step 8: Knot and Cut Thread.

Remember - you must use a new piece of thread for the positive side of your circuit! If the negative and positive threads touch, your circuit will not work!

Step 9: Sew the Positive Side of Your LEDs.

Starting with a new piece of thread and the last LED, sew the positive side of your LEDs.

Step 10: Attatch the Top Part of the Snap.

Leaving a length of thread so that the snap can hang, attach the top part of the snap.

Step 11: Attach the Bottom Part of the Snap.

Using a new piece of thread, attach the bottom portion of the snap to the positive terminal of the battery holder.

Step 12: Secure Knots.

Turn your circuit over. Trim all loose threads and secure with fabric glue to make sure that the positive and negative lines never touch.

Step 13: Insert Battery

Insert the battery into the battery holder so that the positive side (marked "+") is facing up.

Step 14: Light It Up!

Connect the snap to light the circuit. Congratulations! Your StitchLits project is complete!

Comments

author
inspiredideas made it!(author)2009-03-01

Hello all, I've just ordered my kit...never seen sew on LEDs before, really quite excited their arrival to me in the UK! Kate Really hoping you might get chance to respond to my email to you on etsy....which I've just sent

author
westfw made it!(author)2009-02-25
Cute little "intro to conductive sewing kit"! (Ordered!)

  • note that these LEDs are hand soldered
That's a bit too bad; it'd be neater if you had figured out a semi-automatic way to solder the beads (?) to the LEDs... I hope you have some sort of neat little fixtures that helps; otherwise you'll go blind!
author
katehartman made it!(author)2009-02-25

I'm glad you like it!

Yes, soldering crimp beads to these LEDs by hand is a bit tedious. For the kits, I use a slightly faster method using solder paste and a hot plate. I'll try to post Instructables about both of these methods soon. But in the meantime, check out Leah Buechley's instructions (published in the first issue of Craft magazine), which I base my hand-soldering technique off of.

author
scoochmaroo made it!(author)2009-02-26

I've had problems in the past with the "beads" soldered onto the leds breaking off. Have you had this problem at all? I know it's sometimes the tension of my stitching, but I'd really prefer a more fool-proof way.

author
katehartman made it!(author)2009-02-26

The only trouble I've had with the beads breaking off is if it is a weak solder or if the beads are crooked. So long as the bead is flush with the LED and ample solder is used, I find the connection to be very sturdy.

For a more fool-proof option that's not handmade, you might consider trying the Lilypad LEDs - the LEDs are mounted on a circuit board and might be a good option for stitching with very high tension.

author
akinich made it!(author)2009-02-25

hey dude this rules where do you get these things?

author
katehartman made it!(author)2009-02-25

The complete kits are available on Etsy:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=18817493

And if you'd like to assemble your own, just check the parts list!

author
thepelton made it!(author)2009-02-24

Could you sew it onto the hooky half of a velcro strip so that it could just be pressed into a wool scarf or sweater?

author
katehartman made it!(author)2009-02-25

Sure! You'd need to be careful that your conductive thread doesn't get tangled with the hooks while you're sewing, but the circuit can be sewn onto any non-conductive material of your choosing. Just be sure that the positive and negative threads never touch.

author
joejoerowley made it!(author)2009-02-24

cool!!

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