Introduction: The Big Dipper Pillow Project

Welcome to the Big Dipper Pillow Project! The Big Dipper Pillow Project is just what it sounds like: it is a pillow displaying a Big Dipper Scene. But before you get started, you have to know what is needed in this activity. Here are the supplies needed to make this project:

Essential Materials Needed:

Felt (Large)

Thread (Long, Depending on the Size of the Felt)

Conductive Thread (Long Thread that Electricity can Flow Through)

Needles (Big for the Thick Conductive Thread, Small for the Thin Normal Thread)

LEDs (Preferably the Flat Sewable Kind, The Pointy Kind is Also Okay)

Battery (The Flat Kind with the Positive on the Flat Bottom and the Negative on the Flat Top, Not the Tall Kind Unless it Will fit on a Small Portion of the Felt)

Battery Holder (The one with two Holes that can Hold a Flat Battery)

Stuffing (To Stuff the Pillow)


Switch (For Turning the LEDs on and off, the type with holes that conduct electricity)

In the next few steps, you'll see where these materials are needed. And, of course, have fun and be creative!

Step 1: Step 1: Start to Sew!

When you always start a sewing project, your first step is to... sew! Start with two large pieces of felt, preferably dark blue or black, and start sewing around the edges. If you don't know how to sew, here are the steps: 1. Cut off a long piece of string, twice as long as you think you need it to be. 2. Insert the piece of string you cut off into the eye of the needle, or the little hole in the needle opposite the point. If you're having trouble with this, try twisting the string or wetting it and twisting it to make the separate threads into one. That way it will be easier to poke the thread through the eye without it splitting up. 3. Now that your string is through the eye of the needle, you should double the string back on itself so that the string is bent in half with the needle at the bending point. 4. Tie a knot on the end of the string using the two tails of the split string. You'll probably want to tie another knot on top of that just to make the knot thicker. 5. Make your first poke into the two pieces of felt! You'll want to probably poke somewhere near the corner just as a starting point. Pull the string all the way through the felt until the thread is stopped by the knot. 5. Now poke another hole into the felt, this one a few centimeters away from the first. Pull until the string is taut, but try not to pull it so hard that it wrinkles the felt or pulls out your knot. Now you have made your first stitch! Keep in mind that you want to alternate the sides that you sew on so that you don't make a loop around the edge of the felt. If your pillow is going to be really stuffed, you might want to make smaller stitches so your pillow doesn't break or explode easily! You should sew around three sides of the felt so that you can stuff it. See more about this in the next step. Once you've stuffed your pillow, close it back up by sewing the rest of the perimeter of the pillow and cut off the needle at the end. If you run out of thread at any point, you can always tie another piece of thread to your piece of thread to extend its length. With the two remaining leftover strands of the string still coming out of the last stick you made, tie a secure knot, if not two knots to ensure that your sewing doesn't come loose. You can also cut of the loose strands of the first knot you made to keep the thread from getting entirely pulled through the felt (step 4); however don't cut off the knot! If you do accidentally cut it off, try to tie another knot as best as you can with the remaining pieces of string so that the thread won't start to undo the stitches. Now you have sewn your pillow and made it through the first step of this project!

Step 2: Step 2: Stuff Your Pillow!

As said before, before you finish sewing your pillow, you have to stuff it! There are a couple of rules to stuffing your pillow: 1. Don't overstuff your pillow! This is probably the most important rule to remember when you stuff your pillow, because it could result in your pillow exploding. Although this won't happen immediately, but overtime the stuffing is going to find the weakest spot in your sewing and start to put pressure on your pillow. That will cause your seams to get really stretched out or possibly undo or break them. So remember: do not overstuff your pillow! 2. Don't shove all of the stuffing in your pillow to one spot! This isn't really that much of a problem, but it could be annoying when you start to sew in the circuitry; on one side it will be really hard to sew through all of the stuffing and you might not be able to get your needle to the other piece of felt. 3. Stuff in stuffing until you get a nice even bulge in the pillow. Avoid having a big bulge in one spot, as it will be hard to sew through when the time comes. Now you can safely stuff your pillow and close it up without any issues!

Step 3: Step 3: Add Your Battery!

Okay, so now you've got your pillow. But what about the circuitry? And how do we attach the it to the pillow? Well, all of electricity starts with a power source, in this case a battery. And although the battery itself is hard to attach to the pillow, there is another gadget that will let us do this easily. This gadget is called a battery holder, and although it can only hold the flat kind of battery, it can be sewn onto a pillow through its two holes. The hole on the "E" side is positive (the side that looks like an E), and the hole on the other side is negative. You'll need two separate needles and pieces of conductive thread. These pieces of conductive thread will act like wires to connect the battery to the LEDs. To attach the conductive thread to the battery, poke a very long piece of conductive thread through the positive hole without the needle. Cut off another separate piece of conductive thread and poke it through the negative hole without the needle. The tricks to poking a piece of thread through the eye of a needle also apply here, and it may be more necessary because conductive thread is thicker than normal thread. Attach a needle to both pieces of conductive thread and tie a knot to secure each needle into place. Here it is unnecessary to double the conductive thread, as it is already too thick. Tie a knot on the other end of each piece of conductive thread and pull it until the conductive thread is stopped by the knot at each of the battery holder holes. By now the the battery holder should have two pieces of conductive thread going through both the positive and negative holes, but it should not be attached to the pillow yet. To secure the battery holder in place, poke a hole into the felt near the place where you are going to put the battery. If you have a needle which can go through the battery holder hole, that is great; reinforce the battery holder onto the pillow before sewing with the conductive thread. Do this by poking your needle close to the battery holder through the top piece of felt (that your battery holder is on) and come out close to your battery holder so that you have not sewn on the bottom piece of felt. With the same piece of conductive thread, insert your needle into the hole that your piece of conductive thread originally came from. If your needle cannot fit through the battery holder hole, no worries, just sew as normal. Do this for both sides so that your battery pack is fastened to the pillow with the two pieces of conductive thread. There is one thing to remember, though: at no time should your negative side make contact with your positive or vice versa because that will short circuit the battery and burn it out. This includes the conductive thread intersecting at any time and the positive hole of the battery pack accidentally being sewn to the negative side. And never short circuit your battery; it will burn out quickly and become extremely hot. Now you have completed the third step of the Big Dipper Pillow and have fastened your battery pack to your pillow!

Step 4: Step 4: Add Your Lights and Conductive Thread!

Okay now, you've sewn and stuffed your pillow and even added your battery pack! You're almost finished, but you need the last step. So, without further-a-do, here is the last segment of the project. The first step is simple: sew with the conductive thread until you reach a point where you want to put the first LED (star of the big dipper). It doesn't matter if the conductive thread you are using is attached to the positive or the negative side; just make sure that the type of thread you're using matches the sides of the LEDs you are going to attach it to. When you reach the point where you want to have your first star, have your needle on the opposite side of the battery pack so that the stars of the big dipper don't appear on the side of the battery pack. If your needle is on the same side as your battery pack, make a small stitch so that it is on the opposite side of the battery pack. Now, depending on which side of the battery pack your piece of conductive thread is attached to (positive or negative), slide the first sewable LED (the flat kind) onto the the conductive thread with the hole that corresponds to the type of charge that the conductive thread has (depended by the side of the battery pack the conductive thread is attached to). If you look closely, the sewable LED should have two symbols on it: one is a negative sign, which indicates that that hole is to be attached to the negative conductive thread. The other is a positive sign, which means that it is meant to be attached to the positive conductive thread. If you only have normal LEDs (the pointy kind) to work with, that's okay; just remember that the longer side is negative and the shorter side is positive. To attach the conductive thread to the normal LED, make a small circle around the conductive thread so that it wraps around the conductive thread firmly. And, very importantly, remember that for the normal LEDs, the positive leg has to be connected to the negative conductive thread, and the negative leg has to be connected to the positive conductive thread. To test out your light before you sew in the other end, use the needle connected to the other battery hole and directly touch it to the corresponding other end of the LED. The LED should light up when your battery is contained in the battery holder. If not, check your circuit for errors in the sewing or LED. Make sure your two pieces of conductive thread don't touch, because that will short circuit the battery. If you check all of the circuitry and it looks fine, change the battery in the battery holder; the problem might just be that the battery is burnt out. Also check the LED because there is a chance that it could be burnt out too. After checking to make sure that your circuit and lights work by creating a temporary circuit, start sewing in the other side until you reach the LED attached to the other piece of conductive thread. While you are doing this, make sure that your pieces of conductive thread are not overlapping because that could definitely burn out your battery. Once you reach the other side of the LED, poke the needle through the other hole of the LED; it should light up. Once you've done this, secure the LED in place by poking one of the needles into the top piece of felt (to your perspective) and coming back out through the same hole the needle originally came out of. This way you make an extra half-stitch to fix the LED to the pillow without short circuiting your battery (if you did attach one end of the LED to the other in any way using the conductive thread, that will create a short circuit and burn out your battery). After you've lit up you first LED, keep sewing with the two pieces of conductive thread to the point where you want to put the next LED. Then connect the next LED to the pieces of conductive thread, check the circuitry, and secure the LED. Then move onto the next LED, and keep going until you are satisfied with your big dipper LEDs. Like before with normal thread, you can always tie another piece of conductive thread to your piece of thread to extend it. These two pieces of conductive thread will act as one piece of conductive thread when electricity runs through it; it can still transport electricity. To finish off the project, tie a knot at the ends of both of the pieces of conductive thread and cut off the needle. When everything is working out for you, you're done! If you want more of a challenge, try to attach a switch to your project so you can control when your lights turn on and off. Otherwise, congratulations on finishing the Big Dipper Pillow Project!

Step 5: Step 5 (Optional): Add a Switch to Control Your Lights!

So by now you've gotten all of your lights to light up and you're done with your project. Actually you're not quite entirely done because you can still add in another feature to your pillow that will make it even better. That feature is to add a switch into your project so that you can control when your project is on and off. The benefit of having a switch is so that you can control when your big dipper pillow is on and off. That can be important if you don't want to have your lights on at one point when you are not using it so that you are not wasting your battery power. Although you can make a manual switch by inserting and removing your battery, that can get annoying and you might lose your battery when it is out. With switches, you can just flip a switch and control your lights without having to remove your battery. But how do you make a working switch? Well, a switch has to be in a place where it is cutting off some part of a circuit. If your switch is in some unimportant part of your circuit, it won't matter if you turn the switch on and off because it won't affect the actual circuit. For this project the best place for a switch is probably between your battery pack and your first stitch into the pillow (the stitch is conductive thread and is coming from your battery pack). If you put a switch there, it will block off an important part of the circuit and therefore create an incomplete circuit. Only when you turn the switch on will the electricity flow through and complete the circuit to turn on the lights. To add a switch in, make a cut in the middle of the conductive thread stitch holding the battery to the pillow. That will turn off the lights, but do not worry. Next, add in your switch by poking each stand of the cut stitch into the holes of your switch (this needs the type of switch that has holes that can conduct electricity, as said on the materials step). It doesn't matter which hole you put your threads into, just as long as they fit into the holes. If your strands of conductive thread are too short to add a switch, you can tie another piece of conductive thread to it; the two pieces tied together will act as one piece of conductive thread. Once you've gotten a piece of conductive thread into one of the holes, tie a knot there to ensure that the conductive thread doesn't undo. You'll probably want to tie two knots, just to make sure. Do this with both sides, and you've got your switch! One more thing to note is that the switch comes undid from the pillow a lot because you slightly pull on it every time you use it. To make extra sure that your switch doesn't separate from the pillow, use normal or reinforced thread to make several half-stitches to secure the switch in place. And once your switch is firmly attached to the pillow, you now have a working switch to control your lights! Congratulations for entirely completing the Big Dipper Pillow Project!