Introduction: Carrie the Cat Christmas Sweater

Like the traditional quilts of yesteryear, "ugly Christmas sweaters" usually have a story behind it. Of what, I dunno.

Most ugly Christmas sweaters are just aesthetically challenged. Why not add some electronics to animate and breathe new life into what would otherwise turn out to be another plain old boring ugly Christmas sweater.

* theme reference to the old movie "Carrie", you'll have to look it up, maybe only available in VHS.

and another...

Step 1: Base of Operations...

Find a garment to sacrifice to the Gods of Holiday Merry-Making.

It doesn't have to specifically be a sweater in appropriate holiday colors or have elements of the season or emblazoned holiday motif.

A plain hoodie or sweatshirt would actually work better if you wanted a blank canvas to start out with.

You can rummage through thrift stores or liquidator/closeout/discount stores to get something if you have nothing to pull from your stash of fine clothing.

To decorate the ugly sweater, we are just going to use scraps of craft felt and cardstock.

The electronics used is my trusty Adafruit Flora coded with Arduino (you can use any microcontroller) with Neopixels LEDs and a micro-servo motor atttached.

The rest is your regular maker magic. It's just crafting as we go along.

Step 2: Layer Up...

Make a happy little tree.

Lay down a little brown strip of felt for the trunk.

Layer up with pieces of green felt for the leaves.

Use different shades of colors to give it that natural variation of colors or just use what you have.

Throw in some brown pieces for branches.

Put on the next higher level and layer of leaves.

Rinse and repeat.

Use smaller pieces for each higher level to make it cone shaped to the top.

Slide a piece of paper under everything and position everything nicely.

Peel up each of the pieces a bit to apply some glue under that spot.

This glues everything into one mass as a whole tree.


Print out a cat silhouette or sketch a shape.

A servo motor will be placed in the hind section and should have it's drive arm positioned at the pivot point for the leg.

Cut out a pattern for body and the leg/tail overlay piece that will move.

I used two layers of cardstock glued together to form a sturdy base layer for the cat assembly.

Black felt was then glued to the shapes to give it a fur look.

I cut out the eyes and glued a layer of paper to be a diffuser for the Neopixel LEDs that will be mounted behind it.

When dry, draw in the cat-like pupils with a marker.

Step 3: Spark Joy...

This sweater has a kangaroo pocket in front.

It is the perfect place to put the electronics and the battery pack when it goes roaming about and out of the house.

A few Neopixels were wired up separately from the Neopixel strip to light up the cat eyes.

The microcontroller is programmed in Arduino to drive the servo and do the light animations. The fire effect is pretty spectacular and has been implemented many a time in several ibles.

Test the electronics to make sure everything works before permanently attaching to the sweater.

Position the tree and the cat on the sweater.

Figure out how to place the Neopixel strip on the tree like a strand of garland so that the LEDs will light up nicely. Extreme and sharp bends will damage the Neopixel strip.

I sewed a couple of places on tree and through to the sweater to secure the Neopixel strip by looping around it.

You can also stitch a few spots to secure the cat assembly to the sweater. Double-sided tape will loosen up over time since the servo motor moves it around.

Add on any other Christmas-treey type decorations.

I used a couple of stick-on sparkly ribbon bows.

A bit of double-sided tape secures the tufts of fiberfill batting that looks like snow or smoke when lit.

Step 4: Strutting Around...

Sweet little kitty!

Make an ugly sweater with your own theme and have fun with it!

Happy Holidays!


Ugly Sweater Speed Challenge

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Ugly Sweater Speed Challenge