Introduction: Simple Light-Up Ugly Christmas Sweater

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.

It happens every year... You need an "ugly holiday sweater" and you forgot to plan ahead. Well, this year you're in luck! Your procrastination won't be your downfall. We'll show you how to make a simple Light-Up Ugly Christmas sweater in less than an hour using Maker Tape and a few other components. You'll be the most festive elf in the house in no time!

The "special" ingredient for this project is Maker Tape, a special conductive tape that is paper and fabric friendly and very durable. It's also conductive on both sides and all the way through, which makes it great for all sorts of simple circuit projects.

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Brown Dog Gadgets does in fact sell kits and supplies, but you don't need to buy anything from us to make this project. Though if you do it does help support us in creating new projects and teacher resources.


Other Supplies:

Step 1: Cut a Big Felt Tree

  • Fold the felt in half.
  • Draw half of a tree shape with a permanent marker.
  • Using sharp scissors, cut out the tree shape along the line.
  • Unfold it to reveal a full tree.

Step 2: Add Maker Tape "Garland"

  • Peel the backing off the Maker Tape - only about an inch to start.
  • Position the tape at the bottom of the tree on the backside of the felt.
  • Slowly "draw" the garland around the tree in one continuous piece, peeling the backing off of the tape slowly as you go.
  • End the tape trail on the backside of the felt tree.

Step 3: Double It Up

  • Complete the same path with another separate piece of Maker Tape. Be sure that the second path is parallel to the first path and that they do not touch anywhere along the way.
  • Since the Maker Tape will serve as the path for the electrical current of our circuit allowing them to touch would result in a "short circuit" which is something we do not want!

Step 4: Connect the Battery

  • Attach a short alligator clip to the battery holder + and - holes and to each of the two Maker Tape pieces. Make sure you get the polarity correct.
  • Note: The negative side of the battery holder has white rings around the connectors.

Step 5: Plan the LED Placement

  • Fold the LED legs flat so that they spread in opposite directions.
  • Place the LEDs along the path to decide where they will go.
  • Allow one of the LED legs to touch one of the pieces of Maker Yape, and the other leg to touch the other piece of Maker Tape.
  • Remember, LEDs have polarity, which means one leg is positive, and one leg is negative. (The positive leg is longer.) If you have one that doesn't light up you may need to rotate it so the legs are switched.

Step 6: Attach the LEDs

  • Cut many strips of Maker Tape about the length of the LED legs.
  • Cover the LED legs to attach them to the project. Make sure that the tape runs along the piece underneath it and doesn't touch the piece parallel to it.
  • The great thing about Maker Tape is that it is conductive on both sides and all the way through. (This is not the case with most copper tapes, which are also too fragile to use on a fabric project.)

Step 7: Place the Circuit

  • Make sure all of the LEDs light up.
  • Using some green thread, sew the battery pack near the bottom of the tree so that you can easily remove the battery when it needs to be replaced.

Step 8: Decorate the Tree!

  • Make a star from a large yellow pipe cleaner.
  • Use tacky glue to glue the tree to the center of the sweatshirt. Leave a gap in the glue around the battery pack.
  • Use tacky glue (or hot glue) to attach the star and pom-pom details

Step 9: Time for Christmas

Wear your new Light-Up Ugly Christmas sweater and tell everyone YOU made it!

And then tell them how easy it was, and that they can make one too!

Merry Christmas. :)

Holiday Decorations Speed Challenge

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Holiday Decorations Speed Challenge