Introduction: Light Up Protest Bot Bag Backpack

Make this simple drawstring bag backpack that features a light up graphic to boost your message.

Step 1: The Line Is Drawn Here...

We want to create a mask for the lights which will define your graphic.

Create or find a silhouette type graphic to print out. It should be simple with no fine details, kinda like a block print.

You can just write out some big block letters, hashtags...

Reverse the image since we are working inside out from the back of the bag.

With pieces sized bigger than your graphic, layer a light color light diffusing layer, a dark light blocking material and then your printout.

That is then positioned in place on the piece of fabric which will be the bag itself.

I know my sewing machine will punch through paper so if you are wary of doing that on your machine, transfer the pattern with other methods like chalk, graphite paper or stipple marking.

Sew with a straight stitch outlining your graphic.

Go slow on the sewing machine since you will be making a lot of turns or drifting from the line which strains the thread and can break the needle. I found it helps to pivot on a turn with the needle down in the piece.

Step 2: The Basic Outline...

With the outline sewn, you can remove the paper layer by tearing away and picking at anything still caught in the stitches.

Remove the material that is in your image where you want the light to show through.

I used an embroidery scissor to cut the tiny details I couldn't get to with the regular sized scissors.

As usual, I had my Adafruit Circuit Playground Express microcontroller board with a strip of Neopixels to use.

Test out how the lights will look. You can use any Arduino or board you have to light up LEDs for the lights.

You can also cut out the inside of the image on what will be the front of the bag to give it a different look.

Step 3: String Theory...

A channel is sewn to the top of the bag.

Sew the sides and bottom to form the bag. I used a serger to speed through that. A serger will sew, trim the excess fabric and bind the seam with an overlock stitch in one operation.

The drawstrings are two lengths of paracord each about 2 feet long. The free ends will be sewn in so no need to singe or melt the ends to keep them from fraying.

The drawstring is fed into holes on either side of the top of the bag. The drawstring circles the opening of the bag in the channel and comes back out the same side it entered the channel. Use a safety pin on the end to help you push and pull it through the channel. You can also tape it up just to give you something to grab when the paracord is inside the channel. Remove the safety pin or tape after you have the paracord threaded through.

Sew in the ends to the bottom corners of the bag. You can also sew some reinforcing tabs there or install grommets to tie the paracord to.

They form loops that cross over each other which closes the bag when the bag "straps" are pulled.

Step 4: It's Lit...

The light up bag is nearly complete.

Install the microcontroller board and Neopixels.

Position and attach the Neopixel strip. You can sew over the Neopixel strip, create a fabric channel, tie wrap, duct tape....

I added in a bit of fiberfill batting to help diffuse and spread the light over the image.

It is a bag so you don't have to worry about where to hold the battery pack.

With it lit up, see how well it works and program the lights with different animations.

So go out there and be seen!

Sew Fast Speed Challenge

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Sew Fast Speed Challenge