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One of the most amazing things about LEDs is that they give you endless options when it comes to color and lighting effects. Adding lights to an ordinary piece of clothing lends that garment transformative, chameleon-like powers. I believe illuminated clothing need not be relegated to the realm of costumes and raves, when used judiciously, lights can be a beautiful design element in everyday garments. In designing this Day-to-Night Light Skirt I wanted to find a simple way to use LEDs to create something that could go from a normal piece of clothing to a festive show stopper at the touch of a button. Wear it to a classy early evening event with the lights off, and no one will be the wiser... turn the lights on when you head to a dance party later... or maybe start your own party by transforming into a fabulous light show right before the astonished eyes of your unwitting companions.

By using a pre-programmed LED chip from Cool Neon that can be controlled by remote, I avoided the need for arduino coding, making this project quite a simple one. I also used a new kind of LED strip that just became available: fully addressable rgb side emitting led strip. Which is the same as regular addressable led strip, but the lights are oriented to shine parallel to the strip not perpendicular. This makes it a lot easier to illuminate clothing elements without showing the led pixels themselves, and it allowed me to light most of the skirt with just a single strip around the hem. This is the first time I've used this LED strip and I am really excited about its possibilities.

I constructed my skirt very simply, out of two tutus on top of eachother with an outer layer of embroidered organza. I think the floral organza adds a level of elegance to the skirt and creates a nice silhouette when the lights come on, but you could also make the skirt without it, choose your own patterned outer layer, or even use this technique on any pre-existing skirt of the right material.

Step 1: What You Need

For the Skirt

  • Two tutus - I used a white tutu underneath and a light lavender one on top because I liked the effect of the two colors together. You can also just create your own by following an Instructable like this one, or this other one.
  • 1 1/2 yards of a sheer fabric with an embroidered pattern like this floral organza to create a silhouetted overlayer
  • 1 yard of a wide decorative elastic for the waistband
  • About half a yard of white faux fur to diffuse the lights
  • 2 yards of 1" wide ribbon or strap in a white or light color
  • 12 small sew-on snaps
  • Some sturdy white fabric or thin leather to create a battery case
  • Rivets to construct your battery pocket (optional)
  • A sewing machine
  • White thread and hand sewing needle
  • Pins
  • An xacto knife
  • Sewing Scissors
  • Ruler and measuring tape
  • Pencil and paper

For the Lights:

  • 1 1/2 yards of 60/meter rgb addressable side emitting LED strip
  • A Cool Neon Total Control Lighting remote controlled LED Symphony driver chip - this tiny chip is a great way to control LEDs if you don't want to bother with trying to program your own microcontroller. It comes pre-loaded with 300 LED programs and works with any WS2811 or WS2812 LED strip. You can control the programs with a remote, increase or decrease the speed of a pattern, and dim or brighten the lights when they are set to a single color. The programs are mostly scrolling linear effects, and in order for the remote to function properly, you need a 5V power source that can put out at least 2 amps, so there are some limitations, but it's still a great way to drive your LEDs. If your want more control over your programs, you could use any small microcontroller like an Adafruit Gemma or a DF Robot Beetle.
  • A 5V battery with an amp output of 2 amps or above, and at least 5000 milli-amp hour capacity like this external cell phone battery pack.
  • A USB Cable
  • Wire for connecting your LEDs
  • Small and large heat shrink tubing
  • A wire stripper/cutter
  • A soldering Iron
  • Solder
  • A heat gun, blowdryer or lighter
<p>I can' wait to make this! all of them are my absolute fav! :3</p>
<p>Amazing, WILL TRY THIS</p>
Mind. Blown. *stopping all other LED projects* and go
I'm dying! In love with this!!!
<p>We love your outfit, we also sell the LED&quot;S that plug directly into the controller that you got from us. Feel free to pick them up at<a href="http://coolneon.com" rel="nofollow"> coolneon.com</a></p><p>Keep up the cool work c:</p>
<p>This would make an adorable valance for a little girl's bed-think half a parasol above the headboard!</p>
<p>Oh my god. eff all the yarn i just bought, I'm making this (when i have money for the supplies xD)</p>
<p>LOL. I had no choice but to favorite this!</p>
<p>I love the idea great for special occasions.</p>
<p>Thank you very much</p>
<p>if i had your figure, i would SO make this! ☻☺</p>
Would look so good for nighttime bicycle riding.
<p>wow.... very good</p>
<p>About how much did all the materials cost for this skirt?</p>
<p>Love this, If I were a girl I would so buy this from you. And you look cute modeling it.</p>
<p>love </p>
omg. This is genius
<p>awesome !! how long the battery ?</p>
<p>This is beautiful! I can't wait to make it</p>
<p>This is so gorgeous!! The organza makes it look so fancy :D</p>
<p>Fun! I love it</p>
<p>Love it!</p>
<p>Beautiful!</p>

About This Instructable

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Bio: Costume and experimental fashion designer and artist. Maker of clothing and accessories for time traveling cyborg superheroes, and lucid dreamers. Interested in fusing couture design ... More »
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