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Could you help us to build luminescent t-shirts ? Answered

Hello all,

First of all, sorry for the english, I am a french student :)
We would need to make about 20 t-shirts which would shine in the dark, each one with a letter at the back and some lines of light on each arm.
It will be hard to do, and we have a small budget, that is why we are requiring your help. Those shirts will be worn for a choregraphy, which make this project even more complicated :)

After many hesitations, we thought we could use : 
 - for the light sources, or (red) Led strips, about 1 meter for the letter at the back, 1m on each arm, and we need 20 t-shirts (they are sold 25$ for 5 meters), or EL wire, or EL ribbon.
 - for the batteries, they should be good enough to supply the led strips, it would be for example 12V 2Ah batteries, but they should be wearable, cheap enough...

As you can see, we don't really know what is the best, which method would be the cheapest and the more realizable, if it could be worn, ... That's why we are requiring your help :) we would like to know if this project can be done.

Thank you for you advices :)


Once again, thanks for your replies,

We've finally found a good site, in Belgium instead of the US (we really have not enough time for the shipping...) , where the EL wires are supplied with their inverter, for 2m, and you just need 2 AA batteries to power them. So that's it, we will also use Leds (like the throwies) on the t-shirt to make the letters.

It should work, we hope so :)

Thank for your help

And it will be bright enough to be seen with EL wire in the nearly dark ? :)

YOU will have to experiment with things first - you don't need loads of LEDs or wire to do your tests - you may have to spend 20 Euro on your tests.


In fact, we will danse with the lights on at the beginning, but for the last moment of our choregraphy, we will switch the lights off, wear our sweater off, and the letters of light will be on our t-shirts, visible only at the last moment :)
It's a little bit complicated, but because it is for the last moment of the video, it is better to make them with leds :)

For best visibility you might benefit from green or blue LEDs not red.


How about UV light on flurescent inks on the shirts ?


Unless its really quite dark, I can't see EL working well for you. Try a piece !

I see 15 Euro/ 3 metres/person

How many people are you equipping ?

For 20 persons, with 4 meters/person, it does 20*4 * 3 = 240 feet which means 240*1.4 = 380$ of EL wire. It's too bad, we found everything with the EL wire (the good batteries (only 2 single AA batteries each person, with the correct battery holder)... :)
So you really think it will be better to work with Led strips ?
It's generally using 24W (12V, 2A), which means heavy batteries, right ?
Again, thanks for your answer.

LEDs would work, but they are harder to mount flexibly, unless you use "soft circuit" techniques and sew them on with conductive thread.

I can't for the life of me see you needing 24 WATTS of LED lighting per person !!

You REALLY need to experiment and find an acceptable light level FIRST, and then design around that.


Our total budget is approximatively 800 $ or so, and the choregraphy will take place in an amphitheatre, and some people will therefore be far away from us (the dancing persons :)

With EL wire (~80 meters), 20 AA Handheld Driver and AA batteries, it would cost about 500$ on coolneon.com.
It seems like working with leds needs more power (more important current, therefore heavier and more expensive batteries and so on...)
It is really hard to decide.
Thanks for your answer !

EL wire is nice for the letters for sure, and not too expensive, but unless you are working in good dark spaces, not terribly bright.

What is your total budget ?