Introduction: Mabel Pines Light-Up Sweater

About: Into cosplay, cars, mechanics, games, movies, etc.

After watching Gravity Falls for a while, I was inspired to make one of Mabel's awesome sweaters! Mabel Pines is seen wearing her light-up sweater during the theme song in the opening sequence to each episode. There are a couple similar tutorials, but I wanted to post my experience making this sweater.

I'm sick of walking around conventions worrying about my cosplay falling apart. I wanted this sweater to be durable and last through whatever adventures I take it on! I also wanted this to appear like any other sweater, not something with cords and star-shaped LED lights hanging off of it. The final product is quite strong, and I can wear it just like any other sweater. The hidden lights are a great touch too.

This sweater cost only $30 and took me 20 hours to make. I could have spent less time but, again, I wanted this sweater to last through anything I put it through, and I think the extra time was well worth it.

Step 1: Things You'll Need

A KNIT dark purple sweater.
It is very imprtant that it is knit, so you can easily add the lights. I bought mine for $8 at the local thrift store (around Christmas time). There were LOADS of knit turtleneck sweaters available.

Various colors of felt.
Mabel's sweater has 9 different colors on it. 5 for each letter in her name, 3 for the rainbow, and white for the clouds. I used the leftover fet from these colors to make the star shapes. I picked yellow-orange for the M, orange-red for A, fuchsia for the B, light blue for the E, and light green for the L. I chose red, yellow, and green for the rainbow and white for the clouds. Each sheet cost $0.49 at Jo Ann Fabrics.

Battery Operated LED Moon Lights in Warm White (or other battery operated lights)

I also bought my lights at Jo Ann Fabrics for $6.49 each. I bought three sets - one for each arm and one for my chest. These particular lights are very easy to weave through the fabric and the battery packs are very light and inconspicuous. I chose the warm white color because it appears that mabel used white lights and bright white was too bright for my taste. Here's a link to the ones I bought:

Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue
l already had a glue gun, and hopefully you do too. If not, it is well worth buying one. I used about 5 whole glue sticks on this project (you'll see why later).

Scissors or Fabric Shears
I used normal scissors, which worked but was time consuming. Scissors meant for felt will be helpful when cutting.

Paper and pencil
Used to make stencils for shapes.

Straight-Edge Ruler
To keep proportions and tidy work.

Again, my total cost was just over $30. Your price may be a bit more or even less. At the time of writing, the lights are on sale for $3.89 online, but I wanted mine right away. Your sweater may cost more or less, or you may already own one!

Step 2: Making Stencils and Laying It Out

Now that you have all the right materials, it is time to get to work. The first step is to lay out the sweater and make stencils for the letters and rainbow. I'm about average size and my sweater fit snug. I made my letters and rainbow a bit large, so from the front, they spill over the sides a little.

My letters were about 4 inches tall and 3 inches wide. The M was the largest, and i made the E and L narrower.

Each of my rainbow colors were about an inch thick and my clouds were about 4x4.

Make rough stencils and lay them out on your sweater. Spend time on this to make sure you like the proportions for everything. I even tried on the sweater and taped the stencils to it to see how it looked while wearing it.

Once you like the way it looks, it's time to start cutting the felt.

Step 3: Cutting Your Shapes

Once you have the right proportions, use your stencils to cut the shapes out of felt.

I placed my stencils on the correct color of felt and used a light colored sharpie to outline them. Simply cut along your outline and feel free to lay them out on the sweater. We'll fix them onto the sweater after we install the lights.

Step 4: Adding the Arm Lights

This step was a bit difficult and time consuming. Sure, I was distracted by one of my favorite eighties movies, but a third hand certainly would have helped.

We'll start with the arms first. I test fitted the lights to my body. The lights I bought have one light on the very end and an extra few inches before the battery pack. Because of this, I grabbed the end without the battery pack and wrapped the lights around my arm so the last light was at my shoulder and the battery pack hung near my chest. In practice, I was able to wrap the lights around my arm 5 times, but was only able to create 4 loops around my arm when it was in the sweater. The larger loops make it easier to move in the sweater.

I weaved the lights through the sweater while I was wearing it. I thought this method was easier and wouldn't disform the sweater with the wires. Since we are weaving the lights through the sweater, start from the shoulder and work your way down. Start on the inside (so the battery pack will be inside) and weave each light so it is on the outside. Continue spiraling down your arm making sure that each light is weaved and on the outside of the sweater. For each light, you'll want to leave a bit of wire on the outside so it'll have room to move without slipping through the fabric to the inside. Test your lights after every couple weaves to make sure they are all on the outside and ready to be glued. Bend the wire before the last light so it does not un-weave itself and slip inside the sweater.

After the first arm is completed, carefully take off the sweater (if you were wearing it while weaving lights), and get your hot glue ready. Test the lights one more time to make sure each of them are outside of the sweater. Glue the wire on each side of the light where you weaved it through the fabric. This will keep the lights in place.

Once the glue dried, I flipped the sweater inside-out and glued the wire, again, where it was weaved through the fabric. (You can test the lights again, here, but make sure the lights are between the exposed wires, since the sweater is inside-out, as seen in the last picture).

Repeat this process for the other arm. Once both arms have lights weaved and glued correctly, we'll do the lights for her name.

At this point, the battery packs are simply dangling on the inside of the sweater. We'll make a pocket for them later.

Make sure you get under and all around the wire when gluing it. This will help the glue hold onto the wire and onto the sweater, making it less likely to come undone.

I also flipped the sweater back right-side-out and glued each point A SECOND TIME.
Then flip it inside-out again and glue each of these contact points for a second time.
EACH contact point where the wires went through the fabric was hot glued TWICE. This made the sweater very durable, which was what I really wanted.

Step 5: Adding Lights to the Front

Now the lights on the arms are sturdy and won't be disturbed by moving the sweater about. Lay out your felt design where you like it on the sweater.

I chose to make a temporary outline around the letters so I knew where to weave the lights. I was going to use powdered sugar to make an outline around the letters (temporary yet effective), but I used all of it while making cookies :) So, I crushed up an antacid tablet and used the powder to make a temporary outline. Now we have a boundary where our lights will go.

After mocking up the lights, we begin the weaving process again. Start on the inside, so the battery pack is hidden inside the sweater. Again, weave the lights so they are exposed on the outside and wrap the final light around so it doesn't slip inside.

Begin the glue process again. Starting on the outside, make sure you glue around the wire at every point where it goes through the fabric. Flip the sweater inside-out and glue around the wire where it goes through on this side. To add extra durability, glue each of these points, inside and out, a second time, just like we did with the arms.

Now we can glue on her name and the rainbow.

Step 6: Gluing on the Front Design

This is an easy step.

Simply, glue on each of the letters on the sweater, making sure to cover the lights and wires.

Then, glue on the rainbow and clouds. I doubled the fabric for the clouds so they wouldn't be see-through.

Now for another time consuming step...

Step 7: Covering the Lights With Stars

Each of my light sets had 12 lights. I used the leftover felt to make the stars.

This part took me a long time because my scissors weren't that great, and I was cutting each star individually. You may be able to save time by using proper scissors for felt or by cutting more than one star at a time.

I used star shaped cookie cutters as stencils, but you can create your own star stencil if you need. I used a light colored sharpie to help my star shapes be uniform. I made a smaller, rounded star as well as a larger, pointy star for each color. This yielded only 16 stars, so cut a few more with the size and color that you like.

My stars were about 3 inches across for the small ones and 4 inches for the large ones.

Try to place the stars randomly, but with the lights centered under each star. Make sure you are able to cover all the exposed wires with the stars. Glue on each of the stars. I went over every star (and the design on front) three times to make sure all the felt edges were glued securely and wouldn't fall off or get caught on anything.

The outside looks great, so feel free to try it on, but the inside is a mess of wires, and we want this to be a comfortable and durable sweater. Let's fix this.

Step 8: Cleaning Up the Inside

I was going to use a long sleeve shirt for a liner, but I figured I could get the job done with the felt I had leftover. The liner was another step I wanted to make this sweater more comfortable and durable. This way, you wouldn't get tangled in the wires or pull any of the wires while putting on or taking off the sweater.

The first thing I did, was test fit the sweater. I found all of the battery packs and tested them while wearing the sweater. I wanted to put pockets for the battery packs where they would be inconspicuous, yet easy to turn on and off while wearing the sweater. The top two pink patches you see are the pockets I made for the arms. I can comfortable activate both of these at the same time with my arms crossed. They sit near the bottom of my rib cage toward my sides.

The battery pack for the lights on the chest sits lower than the others, and I put it behind one of the clouds. (There are two pink patches on top of each other here because I did not like the original positioning).

Next, I glued felt around the wires leading to the battery packs (the long red felt pieces). I only glued the sides of these (not the top an bottom) so that I can pull the battery pack out of the pockets and through the red felt, to make cleaning the sweater easier. I did this so I can move the battery packs away while hand washing the sweater. Note: the lights and battery packs I bought can be submerged (don't want to test them in the washing machine, though), but the battery life will drain.

Then I used large patches (the green and white ones in the pictures) to cover up the wires on the chest.

Next, I glued small patches over the exposed wires, so nothing would get caught on them. It sure doesn't look pretty, but it is very effective. Go over each of the felt patches again to make sure the felt will stay on and no edges will get caught and torn off.

Step 9: Rock Your New Mabel Sweater!

Finally, the project is finished! Enjoy your awesome new Mabel Pines light-up sweater!

Hopefully it turns out better than you expect :)

Get yourself a pink skirt, pink headband, some fake braces (unless you have real ones), white socks and black slipper shoes to finish your cosplay. Or you can wear the sweater out by itself!

Share your sweater and experience with everyone and let me know how you like this Instructable! I'd love to see your completed sweaters.