Step 1: Planning
After securing a supplier, I needed to determine just what and how much el wire I would need. I went with 4.0mm el wire for the main body and 2.2mm el wire for the glove details, both in 'Power Green'. You'll find that different suppliers stock different weights and colors of el wire, so it's worth doing the research to find exactly what you need.
This design required too much wire to be lit by a single battery pack that the performer could wear, which meant that I needed to cleverly design a lay out that would neither exceed the capacity of each battery pack, nor be disruptive to the designer's vision or the DJ's performance.
I started by roughly pinning out the design with yarn onto my old beat-up male dress form. By no means accurate, it was a good way for me to figure out which wires would connect, where to place battery packs, and how many I would need. Talking with the el wire supplier on the phone about the capacity of the different battery packs apropos the lengths of wire I would need was extremely helpful.
Step 2: Mock-Up
I chose a black jumpsuit (which had to be significantly modified*) , black carpenter kneepads, a helmet with face cage which I covered in black stretch fabric, large headphones, and gloves to act as the base of the costume.
With the help of my trusty assistant, I was able to put the base garments on a body and mark out a second rough draft of where the wires would go. After doing this to each piece of the costume, I was able to call my supplier back and let him know exactly what I would need.
He was able to work with his team to put together a package of el wire cut to the lengths I needed and attached to the connectors for the battery packs, saving me the precious time it would take to learn how to customize them myself (which I later learned with the help of this diagram) .
*modifications included sewing the front of the suit closed, sewing the collar closed in a standing position, adding a full length zipper to the back, adding spats to cover the shoes, and attaching the kneepads
Step 3: Layout
Next, I put it back on the form and began laying on the el wire and taping it in place. This allowed me plenty of wiggle room to change my layout or tweak the design.
Once I was pleased with it all, I was ready to sew it down.
Step 4: Securing the El Wire
For the main body (jumpsuit and gloves), I hand-sewed the wire (way too thick to go under my machine!) using a whipstitch with quadrupled thread (meaning it ran through the eye of the needle four times instead of just one) in a light color so that the weight of the thread would not interfere with the line when the wire was lit. It's essential when doing a project as large as this to knot off the thread every few inches. The reason for this is that if one area breaks or snags, you don't want it to affect the rest of the costume!
For the helmet, I sewed the wire onto the black stretch knit fabric which I used to cover it. Since the fabric was a sports mesh, it was easy to see through, but impossible to see into.
The headphones were glued onto the helmet, and the wire glued to the headphones with Krazy Glue. I tried several different epoxies and adhesives, and Krazy Glue came out to be the clear winner.
Step 5: Details
The helmet was set up to have its own battery pack.
The gloves were laid out so that the wires would run off the edge of the gloves and join to connector wires on the sleeves.
The battery packs were secured to the back of the suit in a surprisingly easy manner - I simple cut slits in the fabric and hooked the clips of the battery packs into the slits.
It was essential that the battery packs be on the outside of the costume for a few reasons. They needed to be hidden from the front view, they needed to be accessible by the techs who would turn them all on before the show, and to facilitate the necessary battery changes between shows.
Of course, I finished it off with a custom label I made with an iron-on printer transfer.
Step 6: Turn Me On
Oh yeah, and dance.