Flexible LED ETextile Ribbon Array





Introduction: Flexible LED ETextile Ribbon Array

Light Up the Night! Contest

Runner Up in the
Light Up the Night! Contest

Yet another method to create eTextiles and wearable computers: an easy sew flexible ribbon array for LEDs.

Want more eTextile How-To DIY eTextile videos, tutorials and projects?
Then visit The eTextile Lounge!

Step 1: Gather Parts

Sewing Machine
Power Source

Step 2: Sew Conductive Thread to Ribbons

With a zig zag stitch sew conductive thread to ribbons.

Step 3: Tailor Tack Ribbon Array Together

Form an array by tailor tacking the conductive thread ribbons together.

Negative ribbon with conductive thread facing down.
Positive ribbon with conductive thread facing up.
Loosely sew the ribbons together at crossing points.

Step 4: Slide LED Legs Into the Array

Gently bend the legs of the LEDs.
Slide negative leg into negative trace zig-zag by puncturing thru the ribbon to reach the conductive thread zig-zag channel.  Feed the negative leg thru the channel making contact with the conductive thread.
Slide positive leg into positive trace zig-zag channel making contact with the conductive thread.
Gentle snug the LED into their zag-zag channels.

Step 5: Connect to Power Source

Make a master positive ribbon trace and a master negative ribbon trace.
Lay the master negative trace on the negative array ribbons with conductive thread touching.
Using conductive thread sew the negative traces together.
Lay the master positive trace on the positive array ribbons with conductive thread touching.
Using conductive thread sew the positive traces together.

Connect master ribbon traces to power source.

Let there be light!

Step 6: Make Something!

I used this eTextile method to create a UV LED illumination system inside a lobster bustle for Mrs. Mary Atkins-Holls' evening gown.

More about this Victorian raver black light ball gown - Mrs. Mary Atkins-Holl.
To learn more about wearable tech and eTextiles please visit my website.



    • Epilog Challenge 9

      Epilog Challenge 9
    • Paper Contest 2018

      Paper Contest 2018
    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    Great! the dress looks brillant!!


    Thanks! I hope it inspires you to make something fabulous.

     Hm. In the end iike the idea behind.
    But i was obly round here, cos i had sumthin maybe same, but more simple in mind, which, i thought, could maybe be topped. My idea is called "LED stripes", a stripe of an endless circuit of LEDs which can be cut every 4cms and i would have shaped it into organza (if i don't glue it).
    And, i thought, it could be great to mix it with other glowin techs, but when i saw this, i just wondered, why you're doin it this way, cos this way is much more expensive, not really washable and even more difficult to manage.

    My reasons were:

    1.  This ribbon array was a for a fashion project that fused old and new technology.  Having the ribbon array supported the overall design aesthetic of this specific dress.
    2.  I could not find the LED strips with UV LEDs
    3.  I was using up product in my studio

    sorry. i was not intendin to piss you off, though i knew you could be interprete it that way. And i'm not sure yet, if there are UV LED stripes, which maybe would be my next "problem", when i think bout "Fluorescine" in concerns of illumination, but i don't want to bother you. Sorry, if i did anyways. 

    Where do you get the ribbon?

    your local fabric or craft store.

    I chose ribbons that were blacklight reactive to support the design of the dress as well as indicate the positive and negative traces.

    I think the LEDs probably are the same brightness. The problem with LEDs is that they have a very narrow viewing angle. Most LEDs have something like a 30-degree viewing angle, and so are brightest when viewed from the top, and much less bright when viewed from the side. I think in this photo the array itself curves, and that is just enough that some of the LEDs are viewed from the side.