EL Wire Dress




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I wanted to make an EL Wire dress after I worked with EL Wire on my cowboy boots. This project was super simple to make, and took almost no electronics skills to make this dress light up the night.

With just a few tools, and a glue gun, I was able to turn a sheer dress I already had into a galactic masterpiece.

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Step 1: Materials and Supplies

For this project I was able to use some of my existing clothes and modify them with the EL wire..

For this project I also used a hot glue gun, a sewing needle, and some clear thread - light weight fishing line could also work if necessary.

Step 2: Selecting the Garment.

The hard part of this project was deciding which clothes I wanted to use! Once I started tinkering around with the EL wire I was so inspired by how I could integrate it into all my clothes.

I ended up settling with a sheer dress with a black slip, so the wire could only be visible if it was on. It ended up creating a really beautiful effect. And it was great to see how people reacted to the dress once I flipped the switch on the EL wire inverter.

Step 3: EL Tape at the Waist.

Again, I was really inspired the materials I was working with. Even handling the EL wire and EL tape in my hands was really fun, so it was exciting to figure out how I could wear it.

I started with EL tape and adhering it to the waist of the dress. I tried a lot of methodologies for making this happen. I tried a sewing machine, with a zig-zag stitch, and found that I kept busting the needles in half when ever I struck the wire. That really speaks to the robustness of the material, tougher than

So if I couldn't sew it, what was left? HOT GLUE!!!

I love when projects become magically easier, out of necessity.

I started with the EL tape and glued the non-luminescent side of the tape to the seam of the waist, so that the bright side shown through the front of the outfit. The rayon of the dress was really forgiving with the glue gun, it worked great.

Step 4: Working With the EL Wire.

I started with cabled end of the EL wire and glued it down all the way around hem of the dress.

When I got to the end, I trimmed my excess.

If you trim EL wire, just put a dab of glue on the cut end, and it is basically re-sealed. This material is wonderfully easy to work with. Glue and scissors - a crafter's  dream.

Step 5: Mapping a Pattern.

With a water soluble pencil, I mapped out a cool galactic pattern under the sheer part of the dress, directly on the slip.

When I had a pattern I liked, I began gluing down different strands of EL wire into that pattern, and when I got to the bottom, I added it to the wire I had already attached to the hem. It created a nice swirling affect.

Step 6: Check Your Work

It is important as you heat, bend, and cut the wire that you occasionally check that the wire is still good.

I did this by testing each strand before I glued it, and then again right after I had attached it to the dress. It was a nice way to make sure that the lines of wire I was gluing down looked good through the sheer space fabric too.

Step 7: Wiring the Dress.

Wiring the dress was surprisingly simple.

I had gathered the ends of the EL wire, and snipped them. The wires are marked, which makes this very easy. I fused/soldered all the wires with white stripes, and then did the same to all the wires with black stripes. From there I ran long wires to where I would want to connect my battery pack. From those long leads of the EL material, I then recycled one of the ends I had snipped and re-connected it accordingly.

What I had essentially done was re-wire all the EL wire and tape into one parallel circuit.

Step 8: Placing Your Power Pack.

The great thing about the Radioshack Power inverters is that they have a clip on the back of them. I decided to just clip the inverter right next to the zipper of the dress. After I had the powerpack in place, I was able to solder my lead wires back to the EL wire coupler - and just quickly sewed my wires down with clear thread and a sewing needle.

This way if I needed to change the batteries I could still easily remove the power pack and swap them out, and then just snap the inverter back into place, and clip it back to the dress.

Step 9: Show It Off!

Then its time to show this sucker off! Go hit the town! Light up the night in the EL Wire Dress of Champions. There are lots of opportunities to customize this project in so many ways, so get creative, and let me know if you re-create this instructable. :D



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    24 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I'm considering doing something like this for my 4-year-old niece. Because she's an active imp I'd like the dress to be washable. I'm assume that as-constructed your dress is not washable? (Have you tried?) Do you have any thoughts on how it could be made washable? The only think I can think of is to make the EL wire removable which would make the dress more complex.

    Also, what kind of battery life do you get? I'd like to use as small a battery as possible and still get 4-5 hours of life.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    All of the Electronics I used are sealed, and the power pack was detachable, so I was able to handwash this garment. Just let it dry for a long time before you reconnect the EL Driver.

    Each Radioshack power pack lasted maybe 10 hours?

    Hi could you tell me just how flexible the wire is? I have not used it before and i would like to make a costume for my daughter for Halloween, but i don't want her to be either stuck rigid like a statue or to bust it in the first step she takes. Thanks.

    2 replies
    Letz RocK

    5 years ago

    u selected Rocking cloth which suits perfectly glowing,simply mind blowing, marvelous


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Thats an awesome dress on a very pretty lady!!

    Great job


    5 years ago

    you in last picture (spinning). that's beautiful.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great concept and very well done. I love that dress. That was a great implementation of an excellent idea.



    5 years ago on Introduction

    1.) You chose an awesome print.

    2.) You chose a dress with sheer fabric and lining.

    3.) Genius! This actually looks like something I might be able to do even with my terrible soldering skills where a bit of solder turns into a pound of solder which is likely a product of my upbringing*.

    Very lovely and easy! And I love the motion shot at the end! :D

    *In my family, if you're going to build a doghouse, you're going to build
    it entirely out of 2x4s (structure, siding, roof, floor, etc.) and a
    million nails.

    1 reply

    LOL, sound like my "upbringing"...the last doghouse I built was made of 2*6s and weighed about 120 pounds.


    So good! I love it. This stuff is fun to make pictures with too. I think I am going to make some EL wire/tape/panel light painting rigs.


    5 years ago

    I've always been intrigued by clothing or costumes using EL products. Your project looks very nice. I especially like your use of the material that resembles the night sky. Thank you for posting.