This EL Wire Cowboy Boot Project is probably the coolest wearable technology piece I have made to date, although LED Shoulder Pads is a close second still. EL Wire is probably one of the most inspiring materials I have worked with in a long time. It has so much potential to make anything awesomer with a fine line of light to accentuate design. When I started working with it, I knew it could be cool to incorporate it into the embroidered motifs found on Cowboy Boots.
Check out the steps below to see how I achieved this look, it's easier than you think :D
Step 1: Materials
- Red Cowboy Boots
- Red Thread
- RadioShack EL Wire 3M (Red) (Radioshack Catalog #: 276-332) x2
- RadioShack Power Inverter for EL Wire/Tape/Panel (RadioShack Catalog #:276-338) x2
- Enercell® "AA" Alkaline Batteries (RadioShack Catalog #: 23-255) x4
And these tools:
Step 2: Get Started
Thread that needle with about 3 feet of thread, and make a big knot on one end. I chose not to double the thread on this project because I was afraid it would stretch out the holes in the leather.
I figured out that if I used the pre-existing embroidery holes in the boot, it was a lot easier to sew the EL wire into place.
I started with the EL wire under the pull-up strap of the boot, so I could easily hide my wire later.
BE SURE TO USE A THIMBLE! These needles are super duper sharp, and are designed to punch through cow-hide, your skin isn't too different :-/
Step 3: Making Bends
Cowboy boots have lots of twists and turns in their embroidery, and I wanted these boots to show off the design that was already in place with EL wire.
Making bends in the EL wire was a bit tricky - I found that it was easy to crimp the EL wire with my fingers gently, and then sew down the EL wire in a loop. I used 3 stitches to hold down each loop, one at the top, another at the apex of the loop, and another at the end.
Forming it with my fingers first helped guide the wires behavior. I was careful not to crimp it too hard, otherwise I could have damaged the delicate corona wires in the EL wire casing.
Step 4: Follow the Lines
It takes time, like a lot of time. And getting your hand and needle into the barrel of the boot is sometimes tricky. Patience is key. Depending on the embroidery styling on the boots you are using it may be challenging. I found myself bending back the boot, or folding it over like you would do with socks, to get my hands and needle in the right spots.
Step 5: Take It Everywhere!
Take your project everywhere! I found myself sewing EL wire to the boots at the laundromat, at the park with the dog, in bed, etc! Leather work is a patient process, but it was awesome to get the fronts of these puppies all decked out with awesome EL wire.
Step 6: Glue to the Sole
After I was done with the embroidering, I had a bit of extra on each boot. I decided to glue it down to the edge of the sole. I embroidered along the outside edge of the seam, until I hit the rubber, and made one last stitch.
At that point, I used a HIGH TEMP glue gun to glue down the EL wire to the sole. It took a bit of patience, and I used the butt end of my exacto knife to hold the wire in place while the glue set.
Step 7: Trim Extra
Use your scissors to trim your extra wire, and then glue down the remainder of your wire til you are back at the beginning of your embroidered EL material.
I went through with an exacto blade and cleaned up all the extra glue that glopped up on the boots, and on the sides of the rubber.
Step 8: Power Up!
Load batteries into your power inverters, and connect them to the EL wire you just sewed into the boots. The RadioShack EL inverters are awesome and come with a clip, so I was able to clip them to the back of the boots without any wire strain.
Step 9: New Boot Goofin'
These boots were PERFECT! for my Halloween costume, I paired them with my Rainbow Tutu and had the best time ever. I can't wait to wear them again, and I got so many compliments on them. People were astonished when I told them I made them myself. :D