Light for life: Glowing button cycling jacket

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Picture of Light for life: Glowing button cycling jacket
Not everyone wants to look like an athlete while cycling to work or school. This cycling-jacket, made of hemp and wool, is equipped with lots of shining bright LEDs. It looks just as good during the day as it does during the night. Embedding the Arduino Lilypad electronics in the jacket, makes it at practical as it is nice to look at!
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Step 1: Gather stuff for the project

Picture of Gather stuff for the project
This project includes working with textile and a bit of electronics.
To make the jacket I used the following tools:

- sewing machine
- sewing needles
- seam ripper
- enough cloth to make a jacket
- tape measure
- pins
- sewing thread in different colours
- 16 semitransparent buttons

electric tools/equipment:
- multimeter
- conductive sewing thread
- Lilypad Arduino
- 2 Lilypad pushbuttons
- Lilypad batterypack
- 6 red 3mm LED
- 6 orange 3mm LED
- 2 white 3mm LED
- puffy fabric paint

Step 2: Start our own sewing project!

Picture of Start our own sewing project!
The project starts pretty simple; acquire a jacket you like, I am using a sporty running-jacket. You can either use the jacket as it is, or you can take it apart with a seam ripper. When the jacket is taken apart, quickly iron out the parts, especially the seams, to make it easier to transfer the pattern to the textile. For my jacket I use 3 different textiles, Hemp Denim (500gsm), Hemp canvas (300gsm) and wool jersey (200gsm). Denim for the front and back, canvas for arms and wool underneath the arms.

Open up seams and lay the parts on your textile. Outline the parts with tailors chalk or a coloured pencil, and cut out the pattern with a pair of sharp scissors. Make sure to lay the textile in double layers, to get two mirrored identical parts (for the ones that are identical).
bkf115 years ago
Hi. I am very impressed by the care and integrity of this project. I love the way you incorporated the LEDs into buttons and used conductive thread (where do you get that from?) and thus really incorporate the electronics into the piece of clothing rather than simply sewing wires and bare LEDs onto a jacket. Very very clever! Benjamin
lioncour2 years ago
This is so cool.
The woman is also nice.
is it washable??
Is it ?
ShortedOut5 years ago
If you are still monitoring this instructable... Judging from the size of your buttons next to the drill bit in your photo (you said that you drilled 6 mm holes), they must be around 3 cm in diameter? I have searched everywhere for semi-transparent buttons in a large size, and can't locate any. Were these vintage buttons that you already had? Or were they new when you made the instructable? If so, is there a place online where I could buy them? Thanks so much..
Also try
this site has a variety: If you live in the US check fabric stores like JoAnn's or Hancocks. Craft stores often have bags or small tubs of misc buttons, but may only have 6 of same one
skunkbait5 years ago
Don't wear it to the airport!!!!!
That's what they said about my road flare coat.
ShortedOut5 years ago

I thought of a tip for sanding down your LEDs... could you perhaps use a fingernail file instead? I'm thinking of the kind that you can buy cheaply at the pharmacy (or druggist, as they say in the UK), which have a course grit on one side and a fine grit on the other. Might be a way to avoid sanding your fingers...

0utbreak5 years ago
wow man u have skills :D
nakul6665 years ago
a life saving instructable:)
graytac5 years ago
Very cool and Mom is not so bad either.
Thats kinda what i was thinking when i saw the second picture.
LOL Dude, leave his mum alone!
patapon5 years ago
Good luck!
kempton (author) 5 years ago
The jacket is insulated with puffy fabric paint, that isolate the conductive thread, so they don't corrode. The arduino lilypad is also waterproof. The weakest point would be the battery i presume, so don't get too wet :) Regarding the helmet, I agree that it is important. Too many people don't bother with it. This was the case when I took pictures of my mother in the Frogner park in Oslo.
gtrldy5 years ago
What about wearing in the rain? Will this cause any trouble with rusting or such of the parts?
great idea wont make a difference without a helmet
Preventing an accident, and minimizing injury IN THE EVENT of an accident are two very different things. If you think you're going to have an accident, then by all means, wear the helmet. But many of us are satisfied with just taking steps to prevent the accident in the first place.
vhcl5 years ago
THIS IS GREAT!!!!!! Now I have to get a Sewing machine for my wife, and convince her to do the sewing and I'll take care of the electronics. Thank U for a awesome Instructable
Phoghat5 years ago
I may be dense, but why didn't you use the jacket you ripped apart?
kempton (author)  Phoghat5 years ago
Well, really I just wanted to make a jacket with a sporty fit in a material like hemp which is more casual. Also, the jacket was black, and I found the shining buttons to be a lot more visible on a light background/textile.
Calorie kempton5 years ago
Aren't sporty and casual at odds? And what's wrong with denim cotton?
oscaram125 years ago
Wow, I am a biker man, this is awesome, but i don't know sew; with this idea I have an inspiration to try with an old jacket. Jacket with LED´s rocks.
mdandron5 years ago
this Instructable is awesome! I'm very impressed with your sewing/electrical talent.
kempton (author) 5 years ago
The switches for the turningsignals are placed at the end of each sleeve. this makes it easy to either hit the sleeve on the handlebar, simply pressing it, or against your body. I did try with a accelerometer, but it proved to be slightly overkill and expensive. What I also would like to get hold of, is conductive thread that is already isolated, so I dont have to use fabric paint afterwards. Suggestions?
I wonder if you could sew with thin magnet wire. It has an insulating coating and is about as thin as some threads.
Magnet wire is not ideal for two reasons: more subject to fatigue than conductive thread, and also the insulated coating is probably too fragile to survive long in this application. Mostly it's the fatigue that would get you.
astri-ma5 years ago
Oh, and we need a hat. (EHM - isn't there supposed to be a helmet? Hmmmmm, the model seems to be a bit of an anarchist. Or is it the designer?) But I'd want a couple buttons on the top of the hat too, to signal low-flying aircraft or crows.
astri-ma5 years ago
Brilliantly simple, recyclable non-invasive idea. So simple - "even mom can do it," -uh - oh, right, Kodak got sued for that silly line. But it's brilliantly democratic. I want one! But I want more buttons. It would be cool to take it a step further, and do a customized design on the back, with smaller buttons. For me, a nice spiral with echoes of viking and celtic. Keep it up Kempton!
thepelton5 years ago
I like it! I do a lot of bike riding myself, and find myself out on the street after dark a lot. What I would probably do is put one or more of the shoulder lights out on the sleeves so you could signal right and left just by putting out your arms.
Light for life - I love this title :) This is one great design, aesthetically and comes with fabulously detailed instructions.
Doctor What5 years ago
How fantastic! It looks amazing, and she looks dashing in it!
kenbob5 years ago
I like it! where did you put the switches for turn signals?
fwjs285 years ago
lemonie5 years ago
Yea, I like it! L