Introduction: Light-Up BB8 T-Shirt

About: I used to teach middle school science, but now I run my own online educational science website. I spend my days designing new projects for students and Makers to put together.

The new Star Wars movie may not be to everyone's liking, but that doesn't mean we can't have a fun time celebrating our favorite Star Wars droid covered in Porgs!

We found this cute BB-8 shirt at our local Target and instantly wanted to add an LED to him. Overall the shirt is a really simple wearable build, and you'll only need a small amount of sewing skills to get everything up and running. This is a great project for a parent and child to do as a weekend project, and then send the kid to school on Monday showing off their awesome work!

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    You'll need some basic sewing supplies around to make this project, but nothing too complicated.

    Sewing Supplies:

    BB8 T-Shirt (We found ours at Target)

    Conductive Thread

    Various colors of regular thread

    Clear Nail Polish (or hot glue also works)

    Sewing Needles

    Electronics Supplies:

    Crazy Circuits Coin Cell Battery Holder

    Crazy Circuits Switch (Optional)

    Crazy Circuits Mini LED Chip

    CR2032 Battery

    Step 1: Mark the LED Location

      Gather materials up!

      Use a safety pin to pin where the LED should go. Make sure you only put the pin through the front of the shirt.

      Turn the shirt inside out and locate the pin.

      Step 2: Sew the Components in Place

        Turn the shirt inside out.

        Place the LED over the spot where the safety pin is, with the LED facing down toward the fabric.

        Use a needle and regular thread to tack the board in place, where shown. We used white thread and sewed down the part on one of the Negative holes and one of the Positive Holes. (Since we only need one of each for the project.)

        Make sure that the Negative side of the LED is on the right. I marked mine with a washable marker to remember. On Crazy Circuits parts the holes with the white around them are Negative.

        Place the battery holder and switch on the neck of the shirt. Make sure the Negative side of the battery is on top, facing the opening in the neck. Tack the boards in place, where shown.

        Step 3: Connect the Switch to the LED

          Load your needle with conductive thread. Start by making a few finishing knots around the middle bottom hole of the switch.

          Run the thread to the Negative side of the LED by picking up just one thread of the t-shirt material every half-inch. This will tack the thread in place and won't be visible from the front of the shirt.

          If you're not using a switch things are pretty easy. Just go from the White, Negative, hole of the battery to one of the White, Negative, holes on the LED. Then go from the colored, Positive, corner of the battery holder to one of the colored, Positive, holes on the LED. It'll turn on whenever you have a battery in place.

          Step 4: Complete the Circuit

            Continue to make connections with the conductive thread as shown. Be sure to start and finish each stitch with a few finishing knots around each of the circuit board holes.

            Note: The biggest killer in any conductive sewing project are random bits of thread coming in contact with areas that they shouldn't. This is most likely to happen around the LED. Make sure you trim the ends of your thread very well. Use nail polish or glue to secure the ends down. (Once you've tested everything, obviously.)

            Step 5: Test the Circuit

              Turn on the switch. You should see it light up!

              Turn the shirt right-side-out. Make sure the LED is placed correctly and is turning on.

              Don't forget to cover all connections or knots with clear nail polish or super glue to keep the circuit working for a long time!

              Step 6: Wear It!

                Turn the shirt inside-out.

                You're ready to wear your shirt!

                We recommend wearing an undershirt along with this shirt. The circuit boards can be a bit rough on your skin. To clean your shirt, hand wash in warm water WITHOUT a battery in the battery holder. Then hang to air dry.

                This approach can be used to add LEDs to any wearable! Find a fun shirt online and add a couple of LEDs to impress your friends!

                Make it Glow Contest

                Participated in the
                Make it Glow Contest