Need a way to one-up your co-worker's awesome Tux desk pal? Or need a sledding buddy who won't get lost in the snow at night? This tutorial will show you how to sew a light-up Tux penguin (or any penguin, really). The example was made for a Gentoo Linux fan, but can be modified for your favorite distro (or even just as a plain penguin).
This project uses electroluminescent (EL) wire sewn into the seams of the stuffed penguin and a LilyTwinkle microcontroller to power 6 LEDs sewn onto the front. The batteries are stored in a compartment beneath the penguin, closed with a zipper.
I became interested in sewing light-up, wearable circuits around Halloween, the most obvious time of year to make clothing glow. After the holiday, I needed a non-Halloween project to work on. Eventually, I settled on a light-up stuffed Gentoo Tux penguin as a gift for a Gentoo Linux fan.
Below is a list of the supplies I used. I chose a felt-like fleece fabric because it was soft, affordable., and resistant to fraying. Pick your own fabric based on your budget and what you feel comfortable sewing. Your fabric size needs will vary based on the pattern you use. My (very) approximate fabric usage is based on the pattern below in roughly the default size. I already had most basic sewing supplies, and I picked up the rest (mainly fabric and stuffing) at JoAnn Fabric. It cost roughly $20-30 for the basic sewing supplies, with plenty of leftovers.
You can choose a non-welted version of the EL wire if you prefer other colors, but keep in mind that it is MUCH easier to be able to sew the wire with welting. Otherwise, you will have to sew loops around the wire to hold it in place, and it may move and slip in the loops.