Introduction: Light Up Christmas Tree Costume
Finalist in the
Autodesk Employee Halloween Contest
It can be Christmas all year long with these adorable light-up Christmas tree costumes. With almost no electronics or sewing experience, and a little curiosity and patience, this is a costume that can be done in an afternoon or weekend. The electronic component requires a handful of 10mm LEDs, some stranded wire, a AA battery pack, and soldering iron. The crafting component uses a few yards of green felt, a sewing machine (if handy), hot glue gun, and some decorative elements to "spruce" up your finished tree.
As a bonus, these light up Christmas tree costumes have the built-in nighttime safety feature of actually lighting up! So trick-or-treating can go extra late this year.
Step 1: Create Base
I created a dress shape based on the girls' height and sizes, using a t-shirt to trace for the collar and arm holes. Since I was tracing onto old newspaper which wasn't as wide as I wanted, I added a few inches to the width of the hem on each side when I traced it onto the green felt.
I cut two full dresses for both costumes. Since there were to be a whole mess of wires winding about inside of the costumes, I wanted an extra layer to protect the girls from the wires and the wires from the girls.
Next I sewed together the inner dresses, leaving one shoulder open so they could get them over their heads.
For the outer dresses that would need to be wired, I sewed together one side seam only.
Step 2: Positioning the Lights
I spread out the top dress layer so I could trace some paths for the LEDs on the inside. I wanted them to look like strings of lights wrapped around the trees, so I mapped out diagonal paths for each color. The circuit ran from one shoulder around and around the dress and ended at the hem where the batteries would be connected.The hash marks indicated where the LEDs would be positioned.
Next I pierced the LED legs through the felt and spread them so all of the positive and negative leads would all face the same direction respectively. (If you have zero electronics knowledge, just make sure the short legs are all pointing in one direction and the long legs are all pointing in the other. The long legs connect to the + side of the battery pack.)
Then I was ready to wire everything up!
Step 3: Wiring the LEDS
I used stranded wire to connect each of the lines of LEDs to each other. I left enough slack in each of the wires to not cause tension on them, and soldered them to the LED leads.
Once each of the paths was soldered together, I sewed together the remaining side seam and one shoulder seam, leaving the other open. Then I completed the circuits by wiring the LEDs across the seam and finally to a AA battery pack near the hem. (remember, long legs = +, short legs = -)
After soldering, I clipped the ends of the leads and covered them with dots of hot glue, both to secure the connections and protect the girls from any sharp edges.
Step 4: Finishing
I finished the costume by sewing on a string of beads and gluing on trim to add further decoration to the trees. Then I stacked the inner and outer dresses with the wrong sides together and tacked them together at the open shoulder seams and necklines.
I placed a wire around the hem of the tree to make it stand out in a circle.
I finished the shoulder seam with Velcro so it was easier for the girls to get over their heads and close up.
A quick vinyl star attached to a spring on a headband topped off the costumes.
I hope you have fun designing and lighting up your own Christmas tree costumes - the possibilities are limitless. And the costumes are great for after-dark trick-or-treating, as they provide their own light source!
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