This is a step by step guide to creating your own zippi doll using conductive thread and other e-textiles.
The doll has LEDs as it's eyes, and a tilt switch is used to light the LEDs when the doll is lifted from horizontal to vertical.
Electro Fashion flashing LED kit containing:
2 x LEDs
Conductive thread x 2 metres
An Electro-Fashion Sewable Tilt Switch
Felt 14 x 14 cm
Fleece 20 x 30 cm, 2 off
Normal sewing thread
You will also require the following equipment:
Round nose pliers
Needle with medium/large eye
Large tapestry needle
Optional items for decoration – not an exhaustive list:
Felt for enhancing the eyes
Wool for hair
Fabric for clothes
Sequins, beads etc
Once made please remember that this is not a toy, and is not suitable for small children to play with.
Step 1: Cut out the templates
Carefully cut out the paper template at the end of this instructable around the Zippi body. Cut out the mouth hole accurately – fold the paper in half to start the initial cut. (Image 1).
Pin the template securely to one piece of fleece, making sure that the right side of the fleece (fluffy side) is facing upwards.
Mark around the edge of the template with pencil or tailors chalk – including cut out for mouth.
Cut out around the design carefully. Also cut out the mouth hole accurately – fold the fleece in half to start the initial cut. (Image 2).
Remove the pins and the template/pattern.
Repeat for the back without the cut out for the mouth.
Step 2: Sew in the zip
Take the 14cm square of felt and the zip. Position the zip horizontally, 7cm up from the bottom of the felt square with the zipper to the right. (Image 3).
Place the cut out fleece with the mouth opening on top of the zip and felt with the 7cm longest side of felt to the bottom. (Image 4).
Line the mouth cut out with the zip teeth, making sure that the zipper is to the right hand edge of the opening.
Be careful not to move the zip.
Pin all three layers in place near the zipper teeth. (Image 5).
Sew around the zip using a sewing machine set at straight stitch length 3.
Keep the stitching 3mm from the edge of the fleece.
Start at the corner furthest away from the zipper.
Sew 2/3rds of the way down the zip and stop, leaving the needle down. (Image 6).
Raise the presser foot and undo the zip. (Image 7).
Lower the presser foot.
Continue sewing around the zip, making sure your needle is left down when you turn the corners.
When you are ½ way up the other side, stop sewing and leave the needle down. (Image 8).
Raise the presser foot.
Do up the zip. (Image 9).
Lower the presser foot.
Continue sewing around the mouth until you reach where you started sewing.
Remove the zippi doll and pull loose threads through to the back. (Image 10).
Knot and trim.
Using a small sharp pair of scissors, cut away the rectangle of felt from behind the zip teeth – be careful not to cut the zip teeth. (Image 11).
Step 3: Insert the LEDs
The easiest way to identify the positive and negative leg is by the length of the legs (see diagram left). The long leg is the positive '+' and the short leg is the negative '-'. (Image 12).
The other way of identifying the negative ‘-’ leg is by the flat edge on the LED (see diagram left). This can be very useful if you have formed your leg into eyelets. (Image 13).
Decide where the LEDs (eyes) are going to be and using a large tapestry needle poke a hole 1.5mm above and 1.5mm below the centre point of the eyes (3mm gap). (Image 14).
Repeat for the other LED.
Push the LED legs carefully through these holes from the fleece side, so that the legs come out on the felt side.
Important – make sure the longer +ve leg (this is the longer leg) is in the top hole.
Using small, round nosed pliers, coil one of the LED legs around the end of the pliers to form a small circular shape. (Image 15).
Place this flat on the felt, making sure the LED is flush with the fleece on the front.
Repeat for the other LED.
Sew on any additional decoration at this stage, button for nose, wool for hair, etc.
Step 4: The circuit
Attach the battery clip to the felt using a small piece of double sided adhesive tape – make sure it is not over the zip, near the edge of the felt or touching the LED coiled legs. (Image 16).
Attach the tilt switch to the felt using a small piece of double sided adhesive tape.
Position the switch vertically with the legs nearer the zip if you want the eyes to light up when he is upright.
Make sure the stitching is planned for the circuit. (Image 17).
Using conductive thread sew between the components.
You will need 3 separate lines of stitching:- (Image 18)
a: +ve battery to one side of the tilt switch
b: the other side of the tilt switch to all the +ve LED legs
c: -ve LED legs to the –ve side of the battery
Ensure the thread is really secure and not touching any components or crossing over other stitch lines. Use small running stitch.
It is important to create tight and secure connections at the point where the thread attaches to the battery holder and LEDs. The thread must be attached tightly to these items, so that a good electrical connection is established. (Image 19).
Each joint should be stitched through a number of times, each time it should be pulled tight, to ensure this is the case.
When complete, test the circuit with a battery. (Image 20)
Step 5: Finish the mouth
Fold the bottom edge of felt up to meet the top edge of the felt. (Image 21).
Pin in place. (Image 22).
Measure in 1cm in from the right zip edge and 2cm in from the top right edge – join these two marks with a pencil line.
Repeat for the other side.
Using the sewing machine, sew up this diagonal line, across the top and diagonally down the other side, to the other end of the zip.
Secure the ends of the stitching.
Carefully trim the felt back to 0.5cm from the stitch line.
Step 6: Assemble the doll
Take the other piece of fleece and place so that the right side of the fleece (fluffy side) is facing upwards. (Image 23).
Place the front side of the Zippi doll face down on the fleece and pin in position.
Machine stitch around the edge of the Zippi doll 0.5cm in from the edge. (Image 24).
Leave a gap of 6cm to the right hand side of the head – this is so you can turn the doll the right side round and stuff – mark the start and end of the gap with double pins so you don’t forget to stop when sewing.
Use a stitch length of 3. Take care that the fleece does not get snagged underneath the needle by going slowly and leaving the needle down and raising the presser foot when going around curves.
Reverse stitch at beginning and end of the gap.
Step 7: Finishing up
Turn the doll the right way round through the hole and turn through ears, arms and legs. (Image 25).
Stuff the body using fluffed up polyester wadding. (Image 26).
Sew up the gap using ladder stitch.
Step 8: The template for printing
The template for printing out.