Introduction: "I See the Light" Lamp Shade

This is such a fun project that is easy to do but may take a little bit of time. It is perfect for you and your friends to do over a couple of weeks time and the final product is amazing! It is the perfect craft for any Tangled/Rapunzel or Disney fans! I would say ages 10+ would be good to work on this project. If you need any help along the way with sewing or coding, there are hundreds of videos on Youtube to help you out.

This project is a great craft project and requires some coding with Arduino.

Advice when making the lamp shade: Make sure to take pictures and document your process as you go along. If something doesn't work later and you are curious why, usually, you can find the mistake by through looking through your photos.

Good luck!

Step 1: Materials Needed

Below is a list of materials that you will need. Click on the link to get more information.

Conductive Thread - $2.95 - Spark Fun

USB Micro Cable - $1.95 - Spark Fun

Lily Pad - $24.95 - SparkFun

Lily Pad Light Sensor - $7.95 - SparkFun

Yellow LED Lights (Come in 5 pack) - $3.95 - Spark Fun

Polymer Lithium Ion Battery - 110mAh - $6.95 - Spark Fun

Lamp & Shade - $14.45 - Amazon

Lamp comes with the shade

Does NOT come with a light bulb. It requires a 40 watt bulb - $1.54 - Walmart

Solid Colored Fabric - JoAnns

  • 1/3 yard Dark Blue
  • 1/2 yard Light Blue
  • 1/8 yard Black
  • Gold Fabric-Quarters - $2.49 - JoAnns
  • Grey Fabric-Quarters - $2.49 - JoAnns

JoAnns usually has a coupon some where online or in the newspaper constantly. Prices range on type of fabric.

Matching ColoredThread - $1.79 - $2.69 - JoAnns

  • Dark Blue
  • Light Blue
  • Gold
  • Grey
  • Black

Curved Needle - $3.49 - JoAnns

Glass Head Pins - $4.49 - JoAnns


Notebook or a Peice of Paper and a Pen

3 Different Colored Markers or Highlighters

Computer with Internet

Step 2: Sketch Idea

Before you do any sewing, you must make a semi-to-scale sketch! Without doing the sketch, you will come across many problems and will spend way more time on the project than you want.

As you can see in the photo, I placed the lily pad at the bottom of the lamp shade with the light sensor next to it. Keep in mind that everything you draw in the sketch is going on the inside of the lamp shade. Because of this, the numbers on my lily pad and my light sensor are reversed.

It helps to add color. I decided that the yellow would signify where my positive threads would go, and the orange would signify where my negative threads would go. The green pen signifies the connection from the lily pad to the sensor patch.

In my drawing, I have the A4 on the lily pad connected to the S on the sensor patch, the A5 on the lily pad is connected to the + of the light sensor, and the - is connected to the - on the light sensor. Make sure none of these connections are touching in each other.

The positives on the LED lights will connect to any of the #'s or A#'s on the lily pad. You can connect more than one light to the same # on the lily pad, but doing so will make the lights do the same things. If you want the lights to do different things, you must connect them to different #'s. Again, make sure none of the positive lines are touching unless you want them to do the same thing and are connected to the same # on the lily pad.

The negatives on the LED lights can all connect together, but can't touch any of the positive thread lines. As you can see in my sketch, the orange lines signify the negative connects, and all connect together, and down to the - on the lily pad.

Once your sketch is complete, you can move on to the next step.

Step 3: Wrap Lamp Shade in Light Blue Fabric

Great! You have all your materials! Let's get started!

What you are going to do first is wrap the lamp shade in the light blue fabric.

Advice: One thing I didn't do on mine (and you can kind of see it) is to iron the fabric first. The rest of the fabric you will use doesn't need to be ironed because each piece will be pretty small. However, this light blue fabric covers the entire lamp shade that it is noticeable with all the creases in it. I highly suggest that you iron it first if you have those materials.

More Advice: If you are new at sewing, I would watch some videos on Youtube or ask a friend to help you. Make sure you tie a nice and secure knot on the inside of the lamp shade when you begin sewing so that the tail doesn't show. I prefer a curved needle over a straight needle with this project because the lamp shade is so small and curvy, but if you would prefer a straight needle instead, be my guest and good luck.

To do this, put the edge of the fabric on the crease of the lamp shade and sew. Wrap the fabric around the lamp shade and pull tight. Use the pins to keep the fabric in place. At this point you can cut off any remaining fabric and only use what you need. Remember to pull tight every once in a while so the fabric isn't loose on the lamp shade. Sew around the edges to cover the entire outside of the lamp shade. To finish this step, sew the seam tightly against the beginning of the fabric.

Step 4: Cut Out and Sew on Castle

Next you are going to draw! If you aren't great at drawing, that is okay. I got my idea from this website and just printed out the photo in a larger scale. Just make the design is the size you want it, then cut those images out on regular paper.

Once you have done this, you will then trace around the edges of the paper onto the correct color of fabric. The grey for the castle and the black for the canoe. Cut out those traces of fabric.

Next, you will sew on the castle. Place the castle just about an inch or two from the bottom of the lamp shade, directly on the opposite side of the light blue seam you created earlier. Use pins to hold it in place while you sew with the correct color of thread. Remember to tie a decent sized knot and start under the lamp shade to hide the tail. Finish with a good knot.

Step 5: Add Dark Blue Water to Lamp Shade

Now that the castle is sewn on and floating in midair, we will add water below it so it looks like it is sitting on land. You will sew on a strip of the dark blue fabric using the dark blue thread just right below the castle. I had sewn on the edge of the blue fabric before hand to have a perfectly straight line, but another way to do this is just cut your fabric perfectly straight. Or, if you want your water to have ripples, go ahead and cut it in a wavy pattern.

Again, just use your pins to keep the fabric in place, pull tight often, sew with the correct thread with the tail under the lantern, and feel free to cut off extra fabric when you know how much you need. Sew around the edge/bottom of the lamp shade to hide remaining fabric and to cover the entire bottom of the lamp shade.

Step 6: Sew on Canoe

Now that the water is on the lamp shade we can put the cute couple in the canoe on the top of the water, right in front of the castle. Feel free to change things up; if you think it looks better with the canoe to the side of the castle instead, go for it.

Where ever you decide the canoe should go, use pins to hold it in place while you sew with the black thread.

Step 7: Cut Out and Sew on Mini Lanterns

The next step is to cut out mini rectangular squares from the gold fabric. I cut out some medium sized rectangles and some small rectangles to give the lamp shade a variety of sizes of lanterns.

First, place the medium sized rectangles on the lamp shade where you want the LED lights to be and hold in place with the pins. Second, place the small rectangles on the lamp shade where you want, to fill in the gaps from the medium sized rectangles, and hold in place with the pins. Your entire lamp shade should look like a porcupine.

Third, sew on lanterns with the gold thread. Because my lanterns are in a V formation, I started at the top right of the lamp shade, worked my way down, and then back up again. Remove pins as needed and be careful not to poke yourself.

Advice: The thread will sometimes get caught on the pins on the inside, so check when you pull tight each time that it isn't caught on the pin needles, and pulled all the way through.

Step 8: Cover Inside of Lantern

YAY! All your lanterns are sewn on and the design is finished. If you haven't taken a break already, I would do so now. Go watch TV, read a book, play football, or even come back another day. Your hands may be cramping by now and there is still a lot more sewing to do. When you are ready, come back to this step.

Now that the outside looks all beautiful, the inside of the lamp shade looks like a tangled mess. (Pun intended). For this next step, you will use the remaining light blue fabric you used at the beginning and cover the inside of the lamp shade. The reason we didn't do this earlier and are doing it now is to cover up all the thread. Not only does it look bad, but covering it up will help with the next few steps when working with the conductive thread. Trust me on this.

To do this, place the corner of the light blue fabric on the edge of the lamp shade, and slowly move across the edges. Remember to use light blue thread. I was bad and forgot to change my thread so mine is yellow. You will repeat this step again at the very end so it doesn't matter how good it looks, just make it work. If it helps, use pins to hold the fabric in place, pull tight every once in a while, and cut off extra fabric when necessary. Once finished with the top of the lamp shade, continue down to the bottom of the lamp shade and fix those edges.

Step 9: Sew on Lilypad and Light Sensor

Now that the inside looks all nice, we are going to ruin it with the lilypad, light sensor, marker marks, and conductive thread. :)

The next step is to sew on the lilypad and the light sensor. Look back at your sketch and make sure they are in the correct spots.

Like I mentioned earlier, when looking at the lamp shade, it will match the sketch. But when sewing from the inside, the drawing will be backwards.

In my drawing, I have the A4 on the lily pad connected to the S on the sensor patch, the A5 on the lily pad is connected to the + of the light sensor, and the - on the lilypad is connected to the - on the light sensor. Make sure none of these connections are touching in each other.

Step 10: Draw Correct Lines

I'm sorry for the blurry picture, but you can kind of get an idea of how to do this next step. Make sure to look back at your sketch again and again or this could be a big accident really quick. Using the different colored markers, draw on the light blue fabric where the positive are going and where the negative lines are going.

Remember, make sure none of the positive lines are touching unless you want them to do the same thing and are connected to the same # on the lily pad. The negatives lines can't touch any of the positive thread lines but can connect together as negatives.

These are how mine are connected:

1 left light - connected to - 2

2 left lights - connected to - 3

1 left light - connected to - 9

2 middle lights - connected to - 10

2 middle lights - connected to - 11

2 right lights - connected to - A2

1 right light - connected to - A3

A4 - connected to - S

A5 - connected to - positive (+)

negative (-) - connected to - negative (-)

Step 11: Begin Sewing and Add LED Lights

Now it is time to add the LED lights. Make sure you look at the sketch you did in the beginning every so often for the next few steps. In my sketch, I have all the LED negatives on the left and the positives on the right.

With the conductive thread, sew your connections as you sketched and as you drew inside your lamp shade. I can't stress enough; don't let anything touch. When sewing your lights on, wrap the thread around
wrap three times just to be safe.

Advice: You need to go all the way through the lamp shade when sewing the lights on, but when you are sewing connections from your lights to the Lilypad, don't go all the way through the lamp shade. If you do this, you will have random grey lines on your outside design. Only sew through the light blue inside fabric.

More Advice: Conductive thread isn't as easy to sew with like regular thread, it gets tangled very easy and makes knots by itself sometimes. Just be careful when pulling tight and not getting caught on things. If you happen to get a knot, don't panic, just make sure its knotted down well, cut it, and sew a knot onto the other knot and keep going. As long as they are touching it will do the same thing, just don't touch the other strands.

Step 12: Put the Lamp Together and Test It

Now that your lights are on, you will need to put the lamp together. The lamp will be put together like normal; the shade on the post with the light bulb inside.

You will need to put the Lilypad USB Micro Cable into the top of the Lilypad.

You will also need to put the battery into the bottom of the Lilypad. It will dangle.

Make sure your lightbulb is all the way in and the lamp is plugged into a wall curcuit.

Step 13: Coding!

If you don't know how to do the next step or you didn't sew your lights, lanterns, and sewing lines exactly like mine, then you may need to find an Arduino expert to help you. Copy everything below (including the brackets) and paste into the Arduino program. If you don't have access to this, click the link here and download it.

Once you have made sure your code works, upload it to your lily pad and test it. If it doesn't work, get some help or watch some youtube videos. Arduino has many tutorial videos. If it does work, congrats! The coding is the hardest part!

You will need to charge the battery so keep the Lilypad USB Micro Cable in the computer to charge it. Once charged, you can take out the Lilypad connector but keep the battery inside.

Now that the lamp is no longer connected to the computer, feel free to place it anywhere in the house. Plug the lamp into a wall curcuit and try it out!

CODE: (copy and paste below)

int ccc=2;

int bbb=10;

int aaa=11;

int A2AandB=A2;

int sensor=A4;

int sensorValue;

void setup() {

pinMode(sensor, INPUT);

digitalWrite(sensor, HIGH);


pinMode(A5, OUTPUT);

digitalWrite(A5, HIGH);

pinMode(ccc, OUTPUT);

pinMode(3, OUTPUT);

pinMode(9, OUTPUT);

pinMode(bbb, OUTPUT);

pinMode(aaa, OUTPUT);

pinMode(A2AandB, OUTPUT);

pinMode(A3, OUTPUT);


void loop() {

sensorValue = analogRead(sensor);



if (sensorValue> 800){

digitalWrite(bbb, HIGH);


digitalWrite(bbb, LOW);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(A2AandB, HIGH);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(A2AandB, LOW);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(9, HIGH);

digitalWrite(3, HIGH);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(9, LOW);

digitalWrite(3, LOW);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(A3, HIGH);


digitalWrite(A3, LOW);


digitalWrite(aaa, HIGH);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(aaa, LOW);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(ccc, HIGH);

delay (40);

digitalWrite(ccc, LOW);

delay (40);

} else{

digitalWrite(A3, LOW);

digitalWrite(bbb, LOW);

digitalWrite(aaa, LOW);

digitalWrite(A2AandB, LOW);

digitalWrite(9, LOW);

digitalWrite(3, LOW);

digitalWrite(ccc, LOW);




The next step is optional if you would like to do it. :) I did not do it to my lamp shade but I think it could be great. After you test your lamp in the dark, you may see all the thread from behind the lamp shade shine through.

The next and optional step is to cover the inside one more time with a dark fabric to hide the thread marks from the inside and to hide them better when the lamp is turned on.

Make sure that if you are going to cover the inside again, that you leave holes where the lilypad and light sensor are. The light sensor has to be visible to the light bulb in order for this project to even work. And the LilyPad has the two ports where the LilyPad USB Micro Cable goes on the top, and the LilyPad battery goes on the bottom. They can't be covered up.

Step 15: Congratulations! It's Finished!!

Congratulations on completing your "I See The Light" Lamp Shade. I hope you have enjoyed this process and that you love the outcome of your project. I would love to see your final design! Post a video on Instagram and tag me in the comments! @k.neuen