Intro: Glowing Body Bag
Charm your Halloween guests with this delightful and tasteful ornament: a body bag that emits a crimson light. Decorate your party table, your bathroom, or your bedside table with it in lieu of a regular lamp. Use it as a wallet, purse, or pencil case. Brighten your day with a multipurpose glowing body bag.
Dig up the following:
- Zipper with plastic teeth (important)
- Conductive thread
- Conductive fabric
- Regular thread
- Sewing needles
- Black spandex
- Four 10 mm red LEDs
- Two 10k resistors
- Needle-nose pliers
- Cotton balls for padding
- One 3V battery
- Coin battery holder
- Black electric tape
Step 1: Stitch the Zipper
Take the black spandex and cut two 5" x 8" sheets from it.
Take one sheet and stitch the zipper into it.
Cut a hole into the zipper.
Step 2: Stitch the Battery
Take the 3 volt coin battery. Put it inside the coin battery holder.
Take the conductive thread, thread it through the needle, single-thread style. This is tricky because conductive thread frays easily. Use beeswax to smooth the ends.
With the thread through the needle, push it through the hole facing the negative end of the battery holder.
Stitch the thread through the width of the spandex sheet. Stitch it into the flap of the sheet with the zipper, attaching the two sheets.
Step 3: Make the Zipper Switch
This part is tricky. You will make a zipper switch. The above video demonstrates how it works in a separate zipper I practiced on. It's an open circuit that is closed when the zipper slider closes the zipper teeth that have been made conductive with conductive thread running between the teeth.
To begin, run the thread from the negative end of the battery holder into the bottom side of the spandex sheet stitched with the zipper. Thread through the underside of the zipper tape. Pull through, and into the upper side, completing one stitch.
From underneath the zipper, run the conductive thread through the gap between two zipper teeth before piercing the top side and diving back through the underside. This will be your first step at creating the circuit.
Continue winding the thread through the zipper teeth. Depending on your skill level (I am a beginner, so this was excruciatingly hard), you will run into issues such as the thread fraying, the thread falling out of the gap, and such.
You must also stitch the thread close enough to the edges of the teeth so the zipper slider glides over them. If you stitch it too wide, the zipper slider will get stuck and you won't be able to close the zipper.
In these photos, you see I have stitched the thread and made a substantial section of the zipper conductive. I test this by putting an LED into the positive end of the battery, and touch its negative/cathode leg with the needle. Use this method to test the connectivity of your circuit.
Step 4: Add a Resistor, Close the Stitching on This Side.
Take needle nose pliers and twist the ends of your 10k resistor into loops.
Slip one end of the resistor through the thread. This is because we are using this end to close the negative side of the circuit.
In these photos, you see a distant shot and close-up shot of the resistor stitched into the negative side.
Once that's done, close off the threads with a knot. You can solder this end to solidify connections. Be careful you don't burn a hole in the spandex with the solder.
Later we will run the negative ends of the four 10mm LEDs through this side.
Step 5: Stitch Conductive Thread Through the Positive End
Now that the negative end of the circuit is done, let's do the positive end. From the positive end of the battery holder, run the conductive thread through the hole and into the edge of the spandex sheet.
Stitch conductive fabric onto this. The fabric will be used to reinforce the connection from the battery to the thread.
This photo was taken further into the process, explaining the presence of the LEDs.
Step 6: Stitch LEDs Into the Zipper.
We will make a parallel circuit with four LEDs along one side of the zipper, the positive side of the zipper circuit.
Start with one LED.
Run conductive thread through this side of the zipper tape, similar to the opposite side.
Using needle nose pliers, bend the legs of the LEDs into loops. Run the thread through the positive end. You can test connectivity with the needle.
You also know your zipper switch is working by touching both ends together and using an LED to check connectivity. Second video above demonstrates this.
Once you have one LED working, add a second. Then a third. Then a fourth. You are using the conductive thread to extend the path of the parallel circuit you are building. Keep testing connectivity with the needle.
Step 7: Add Padding
Cut a third and fourth sheet of spandex.
Add cotton balls between these sheets.
Tape the top sheet into place. Stitch them together with thread.
Take this pillow and place it under the spandex sheet with the 3V battery. This adds form and heft to your body bag.
Step 8: Insulate the Battery With Tape
This keeps the battery from shorting out the zipper switch and conductive ends, since when the top flap is closed, these will be lying against the battery, which is metallic.
Step 9: Reinforce Connections With Copper Fabric and Solder.
If you find that conductive thread isn't steady enough, like I did, use copper fabric to strengthen connections. Stitch it over the conductive thread to create more surface area for the current in the battery to travel through.
Also, it's recommended you solder all connections. I didn't do that, so my connections were flimsy and weak. My connections were great at first, but over two days the LEDs stopped lighting up due to the thread fraying and cutting the current.
Again, keep testing for connectivity.
Step 10: Stitch All Flaps Into Place and Trim the Sides.
Seal all sides with thread. You will have excess spandex on all sides. Trim to uniformity. Be careful not to chop out any of your carefully-threaded stitching. Also be careful not to chop into the zippers.
Step 11: Seal All Sides With Electric Tape.
This reinforces your housing and adds a nice aesthetic to the bag. It looks like an actual body bag. Use the tape to also cover up the threads.
Step 12: Done and Display.
You now have an excellently gruesome and spooky miniature body bag. Leave it around the house and spook guests. Put dolls in it. Put your pet hamster in it. Spooky fun for everyone.