Introduction: Glowing Moon Phase Clutch
I’ve been going through a moon phase (pun absolutely intended), and thought it would be fun to make a wearable or totable that could light up to display the current state of the moon.
There would be a bit of electronic hardware involved, which made a purse seem like the perfect vehicle—you’re already carrying a load of other things, so there’s no harm in the addition of a small battery pack. A backpack would also work great.
The glow comes from an electroluminescent (EL) panel shining through a lightweight fabric printed with a photo of the moon. The phases are shown with a set of plastic sheets laser-cut to the different phases that can be inserted in a pocket behind the moon to block the light from the EL panel.
This Instructable isn't meant as a step-by-step on how to sew a purse, but rather to showcase the steps necessary to light it up with the phases of the moon. You can apply the principles to almost any bag or purse pattern you can find, including ones here on Instructables.
- White EL panel
- Portable battery-powered inverter
Adafruit and SparkFun are good sources for the electronics, and you can usually find starter packs that include all three of these items together.
- Sewing machine
- Scissors or rotary cutter
- Circle cutter
- X-acto knife
The fabric required really depends on the bag pattern you're using. The items below are what I used—your final design will require its own materials.
- 1/2 yard black marine vinyl for the exterior of the clutch
- 1/2 yard fabric for the liner
- 2 zippers - one approximately 9" long for the exterior of the bag, the other 4" long for the interior
Step 1: Material Prep
For this all to work, you'll need a photo of the moon printed on a lightweight fabric at just the right size. Fortunately, there's a great service for custom fabric printing: Spoonflower. Upload any photo and they can print it on a variety of fabrics.
For copyright reasons, I won't be including here the moon photo I used, but a web search of high-resolution images will give you plenty to choose from.
You need to make sure that your print of the moon isn't larger than your EL panel. 10cm x 10cm (just under 4" x 4") is a common size for EL panels, so 3.5" would be a good final size for each moon print.
I was able to fit nine moons onto one sample-sized piece of fabric, so I had spares in case I goofed up (and I goofed up plenty of times).
For the light-blocking template of the phases I ordered laser-cut black Delrin from Ponoko, an online laser-cutting service. If laser-cutting isn't an option for you, you could cut them carefully by hand from lightweight cardboard. To cut by hand, print up a set of the phase templates on regular paper, cut them with a X-Acto knife, trace them onto thicker cardboard, and then cut them out of the cardboard.
I've included the files of the moon phases here. The template can be reversed in its pocket to represent a waxing or waning phase, depending on the direction it faces.
The primary fabric for the exterior of the bag needs to be thick enough to block light from the panel. I chose black marine vinyl from the local fabric store, but almost any thicker material would work. For the liner, I chose a lightweight cotton printed with polka dots reminiscent of a star field.
Step 2: Sewing the Moon
First, use a circle cutter to make a moon-sized hole in the exterior fabric of your bag. Locate it on the fabric so that it's where you'd like on your finished bag.
Tape the moon fabric to the back of the vinyl, then carefully sew as close to the edge as you can and trim off any excess. It took me three tries, but I finally ended up with a result I liked. This is why it's good to have some extras of your moon print.
Step 3: Pockets
You'll need a pocket in your primary material to hold the EL panel and the moon phase templates against the back of the fabric moon, so stitch another piece of your exterior material to the inside on three sides, leaving the top open. I continued the stitch all the way up the length of the vinyl as a decorative element. To form the bottom of the pocket without requiring extra stitches that would show from the front, I used a piece of athletic tape (not pictured), but you could also use a fabric glue.
If the pattern for your bag has a lining, that lining will need a zipper in it to allow access to the EL pocket. There are some great zipper-sewing instructions here: Machine Sewing Class
Step 4: Assembly
To complete the bag, follow the instructions on the pattern you chose.
Be sure that you adapt the pattern to include access to the pocket you sewed directly behind the moon fabric.
Step 5: Light It Up!
Finally, slide the EL panel into the pocket, tuck the inverter/battery pack behind it, and slide the template with the phase of the moon you want to represent in front.
Flip the switch on the inverter, and hit the town with the light of the moon in your hand!
Participated in the