Introduction: LED Party Coat

About: I have a background in retail display and design; I've designed and installed windows for Anthropologie stores, Saks Fifth Avenue, and J. Crew global. Now I'm back in school pursuing an MFA in future-thinking…

New York City finally repealed its very outdated Cabaret Law.

So let's dance.

You'll need the right outfit for the occasion.

This coat is a wild fashion piece with an unexpected ability: it lights up as the surrounding light dims. Like a creature with bioluminescent qualities, a werewolf, or a regular person leaving their workplace for a party, this coat takes on a new personality from day to night.

The circuitry uses a photoreceptor input sensor (LDR), which communicates two simple messages to the Huzzah board--it’s dark out and it’s light out. If it's dark out, the sequin LEDs will magically light up ✨

I'm excited to share this project with you. I'm a novice Arduino-user and first-time electronics-solderer, so I'm confident that anyone can recreate this!

There are essentially four steps to complete this project:

1. Sew (or buy) coat

2. Create tassels

3. Create circuitry & LED wiring

4. Assemble tassels, LEDs and circuitry on coat

Step 1: Gather Sewing Materials & Tools

(Left to right)

-Thread that matches coat color


-Seam ripper


-Sewing machine (not pictured)

Step 2: Gather Tassel Materials & Tools

(Left to right)

-Metallic crinkle for shiny tassels (I bought this one from Michael's)

-3 to 5 colors of yarn (this shimmery payette yarn is nice)

-Wooden boards, or something similar to wrap yarn around. These boards are 3.5" and 4" across.


Step 3: Gather Electronics Materials & Tools

(Left to right)

-USB cable

-Solderless breadboard and Arduino (for test runs only)

-Lithium ion polymer battery, 3.7v 1200mAh

-Adafruit Feather Huzzah ESP8266

-Photocell (a.k.a. LDR light-sensing input)



-Resistors (x2) Less than 10 ohms

-Sequin LEDs (12) I chose emerald, but there are several colors

-Silicon cover stranded wire--same color or similar to coat color--6 meters minimum

-Mini USB cable (not pictured)

-Soldering kit (not pictured)

-Ventilation (not pictured)

-Helping hands for soldering (not pictured)

Step 4: Create (or Source) Coat

Anyone else have a graduation gown sitting in their closet? Now's the time to transform this ill-fitting garment into a fantastic party coat.

You can also use any other coat, cape or blazer as the base.

If you are re-using something or buying something that's ready to go--feel free to skip the following steps!

Step 5: Adjust Coat

-Try gown on and determine what is a good length for you

-Cut a straight line at desired length

-To create the hem along that raw line, fold up edge of fabric twice and iron into place

-Stitch along the ironed line

-Adjust the sleeve width by stitching--on the inside, following the dotted line in the image

*Save the fabric scraps for later. After you attach the circuitry to the inside of the coat, you'll want to cover it with matching fabric.

Step 6: Make Tassels

You'll want to make at least 50 tassels to cover your coat.

This particular coat used approximately 100.

Feel free to make your own variances here: play with the length of the tassels, colors, materials, etc.!

I put 2 colors of yarn together to create multi-colored tassels.

Step 7: Make More Tassels

The coat will look cooler with more tassels, so go ahead and make twenty more.

Step 8: Attach Tassels

Stitch on to the front of the coat, starting from the bottom up.

Keep a few inches between the tassels--they'll become dense quickly as you layer them on

Step 9: Create the Circuit

Plug in your soldering iron and safety ventilation system, it's time to build this circuit!

New to soldering? Check out this great tutorial.

-Follow the diagram above, making sure to heatshrink over all the connections. Since these electronics will be worn close to the body, this is a crucial step.

-Solder the LEDs together in parallel, making sure that the series are consistent with + on one side and - on the other.

*How long should the wires be between LEDs? Since the LEDs are going on top of the shimmery tassels, the distance between LEDs is going to vary. Measure the distance between each shimmery tassel and cut the wires to match those lengths.

Step 10: Create the Circuit, Continued

Use these images as reference as you wire each of the elements together and connect them to the Huzzah board.

Step 11: Upload Code & Test

To get your Feather Huzzah ESP8266 board up & running, you'll want to follow the steps in Lessons 1 & 2 to sync your board and its libraries in Arduino.

-Test the LED connections with a coincell battery to make sure your connections are solid.

-Test the code and the circuitry.

-Take your time to troubleshoot. Check that the soldered connections are secure. Check that your LEDs are connected in parallel (+ to + ...and... - to -)

Step 12: Attach Sequin LEDs to Coat

Stitch the LEDs on the face of the shimmery tassels.

Run the lengths of the wire under the tassels and stitch in place. Make sure the wire is placed so that the other tassels cover it up.

(You were probably smart enough to buy wire that matches the color of your coat, so you'll have an easier time hiding the wires than I did!)

Step 13: Attach Circuitry to Coat

-Stitch the Huzzah board and its connections to the inside lapel of the coat.

-Cut a small hole on the front of the coat and pop the photocell up through the hole so that it sticks on on the front of the coat.

*Placement: make sure the photocell is not too close to an LED (the light from the LED could affect the light/dark signal reaching the photocell.) Also make sure that the photocell is not underneath a tassel.

Step 14: Upload Code to Huzzah

Double check that your connections and code continue to work.

Everything good? Awesome!

Need to troubleshoot? I did too. Take your time.

Step 15: Sew Pocket for Battery and Huzzah

This is a crucial step! Since these electronics are close to the body, you'll want to create a little barrier for security.

Sew a patch of fabric over the battery and the Huzzah board and its connections. You'll notice in the photos that I used a conspicuous piece of white fabric, but you will have that extra piece of black fabric from step 4 to discreetly cover your electronics.

LED Contest 2017

Participated in the
LED Contest 2017

Fiber Arts Contest 2017

Participated in the
Fiber Arts Contest 2017

Arduino Contest 2017

Participated in the
Arduino Contest 2017