Introduction: Light Up Glitter Heels

First things first, these are not Dorothy's shoes. Dorothy snatched them off the cold, dead feet of the Wicked Witch of the East. The same dead witch that, oh yeah, Dorothy maliciously murdered upon her dramatic arrival into Munchkinland. If we're about to commence this journey of creating fabulous things together, I want that made abundantly clear.

Now, who wants to make glittery, sparkly, light up heels??

Step 1: Tools, Yo.

You will need:


  • X-acto knife
  • Paint brush
  • Needles (many)

Step 2: Glitter Prep

Ok, first step to fabulousness: make those shoes analog sparkly. That's going to require your glitter, Mod Podge, a bowl type object, paint brush, masking tape, and newspaper. Don't be a hero: lay down that newspaper first.

If your shoes are old, clean them first. If dirt comes off later, it will take the glitter with it. And then all we will have done will be for naught. (Check out those auxiliary verbs.) Tape the stem of the heels and the undercarriage. Basically, tape anywhere that you don't want glitter. [If you decide that you absolutely must have glitter on the soles of your shoes, you better commit to leaving a trail of pixie dust in your wake. Forever.]

Mix 1 part glitter, 2 parts Mod Podge in a vessel. Grab that brush.

Step 3: Glitterize.

Paint a coat of your glitter magic onto the shoes. Let it dry for at least 10 minutes. Come back and do another coat. Let it dry. Paint. Rinse and repeat. Find some short activities or YouTube clips for your intervals.

Let it fully dry. Like, overnight dry. Remove tape. Use your X-Acto knife to clean up any areas that have inadvertently become fancy.

Put them on. The next part's going to be super involved, so I'm telling you right now: put them on and get some compliments. Your ego will thank me later.

Step 4: Sewing Light

Using conductive thread, sew five Adafruit NeoPixels along the outside of each shoe. You can start from the bottom-most NeoPixel and work your way up. Connect power to power, ground to ground, and the arrows make sense. Fritzing of the circuit above (Thanks Adafruit!).

As you tie up any knots, throw some clear nail polish on to secure those knots.

Pro Tip: Get better needles. You're sewing through leather. In a war between sewing kit needles through leather and your fingers, your fingers are going to lose. Badly.

Step 5: Testing, Testing

Use your alligator clips to connect the now connected strand of NeoPixels to your Flora and run a basic strand test through your Adafruit-tricked out Arduino. It's in your examples.

Does it work? Grab a beer. You deserve it.

Step 6: Under Pressure

Let's make a pressure sensor! Cut a piece of velostat to fit on the inside of one shoe toward the heel, but definitely on the side. Cut two pieces of lengthy conductive thread. Tape them on either side of the velostat in the same pattern, with the long tail ends on different sides, so they are not touching. Instant pressure sensor!

Step 7: Sewing to the Flora, AKA: the Painful Part

Ok, I'm not necessarily going to advocate that you do it this way. If you have some sort of contraption that holds tights up and taut that doesn't involve your legs, by all means, do it. But, if you like to live dangerously... put the tights on. Put the shoes on, too. Now really you SHOULD NOT be placing the conductive thread and everything right on your body, so maybe put on another pair of tights under the striped tights. You know, for safety.

I soldered snaps to the back of my Flora so I can snap the Flora on and off projects. I highly recommend this. Otherwise you need one for each. Ain't nobody got funds for that. If you snap, then you are going to sew snaps to the tights. If not, sew the Flora directly on. One shoe will go to power, ground, and pin 6. One shoe will go to power, ground, and pin 10. (Yeah, that means sewing all the way up the leg, across your middle down to the Flora housed on the other leg. #lifeinthefastlane) The velostat pressure sensor will be sewn up to pin 9 and ground. If any thread lines cross, put some electrical tape around them to separate. YOU DO NOT WANT SHORT CIRCUITING ON YOUR BODY. [Lesson learned. Painfully.]

Step 8: Code the Magic

Wicked Witch Code!!!

You're going to follow the above link for the code. But, we can talk it out. Essentially, when the threshold on your pressure sensor is reached (I have it set at 50, adjust as per your testing), the magic happens. The pressure sensor is placed in your shoe, so that when you click your heels, it activates.

Test it. Adjust code. Test. Commit. Throw on a battery holder with AAA batteries. If you like, you can hold the battery up with a leg garter. Just for funsies.

Can you feel the excitement? I can.

Step 9: Click Your Heels.

Click them! #magic

Enchanted Objects

Second Prize in the
Enchanted Objects

Make it Glow!

Participated in the
Make it Glow!

Winter Wearables Contest

Participated in the
Winter Wearables Contest