LED Shoes - Illuminate Your Feet




About: Former Instructables employee CHECK OUT MY WORK www.carleyjacobson.com

Remember those awesome light up shoes you had when you were a kid?  Now you can turn your own shoes into a work of art!  Wear these painted LED shoes out and you will be the center of any party.  Its super easy!

Step 1: Materials

1. Canvas Shoes (any shoe that a needle can poke through)
2. Conductive Thread
3. LED's (10) *
4. Regular Thread
5. 220 ohm resistors (2)
6. Sew on snaps (6)
7. 3V 20mm-25mm coin cell batteries (2)
8. Needle Nose Pliers
9. Small scissors
10. Seam-ripper
11. Needles
12. Felt (3" by 3" piece)
13. Puff paint (color of your choice)
14. Glue gun
15. Marker

*Make your own LED Beads (which is what I did)
1. Surface mount LED's (10)
2. Silver Crimp Beads (10)
3. Copper Crimp Beads (10)
4. Super Glue

The crimp beads will be soldered to the LED's and used to connect to the conductive thread thus they need to be made out of a conductive material. I used copper and silver crimp beads because they are conductive and so I could tell the anode and cathode by the color of the bead.

Step 2: Battery Holder - Cut Felt Holder

Materials Needed:
1. Felt
2. Marker
3. Coin cell battery

1. Take your felt and trace the coin cell battery onto it with a marker.  Put an X in the center of the circle to mark the center.  Draw a rectangle as seen in image 2.  Then draw an outer line around the whole shape to give room for when you sew the piece onto the shoe. 

2. Now cut the piece out along the outer edge.

You will need two of these cut outs.  One for each shoe.

Step 3: Battery Holder - Adding (+) Connection

Materials Needed:
1. Felt Cutout
2. Metal Snap
3. Conductive thread
4. Needle

1. Threading Needle

You will be doing all the threading by hand.  Take a piece of conductive thread and thread your needle.  Make sure the eye of the needle is big enough for the thread to go through.  If you cut your thread at a 45 degree angle it is easier to cut thread the needle.  If the thread starts to fray be patient!  I imagine you could add some glue to the end of the thread to make this easier.

2. Attach Snap

Take one side of the snap and attach it to the the felt cut out (right on the X) by looping the conductive thread through the hole of the snap.  These snaps are not meant to be functional.  They are just used to make connections to be battery.  So you want the flat end of the snap to be exposed.

Make sure each loop is securely and tightly attached to the snap to make sure you have a good connection.

3.  Connection to electronics - see second image

Now sew a line from the snap to either the right edge of the felt (looking at the felt marker side up).  Sew several overlapping stitches of the conductive thread at the end of this line.

If you choose to sew the conductive line towards the right edge of the felt, start the path on the right side of the snap (to prevent problems that will become clear in the next step).

This line will determine where the electronics connect to the positive end of the battery.  When the felt is flipped over (which it will be when connected to the shoe) the connection to the + of the battery will be on the left.

Step 4: Battery Holder - Adding (-) Connection

1. Marker
2. Felt cut out with attached snap from previous step
3. Other end of snap from previous step
4. Shoe
5. Marker
6. Conductive Thread
7. Needle

1. Marking shoe

Lay the felt cut out on the tip of the shoe where you want the battery holder to be (marker side facing down).  On the shoe, mark where the corners of the felt cut out will be placed with the marker.  Then, keeping the felt in place, peel back the felt until the snap is exposed and mark on the shoe the location of the snap with an X.  This is where the other end of the snap will go.

2.  Attach Snap to Shoe

Attach the other end of the snap snap to the shoe using the glue gun.  Use just a little dab so a few of the holes in the snap do not fill with glue (you will need to connect this snap to other electronics  which you cant do if all the holes fill with glue).

You could also attach the snap to the shoe the same way you attached the other snap to the felt.  I just thought this would be an extra reinforcement.

Now sew the snap to the shoe like you did in the previous step using conductive thread (you will sew through the 1 or 2 holes that did not fill with glue).

3. Connection to Electronics - image 4

In the same manner as the previous step, we need to make a connection from this snap (the negative end of the battery) to the electronics by sewing a line of conductive thread. This line will determine where the electronics connect to the negative end of the battery. 

Thus, you will need to sew a line from the snap to the right edge of the shoe (about 1 1/2 inches in length).  The direction of this line is very important!  It just needs to be going in the opposite direction of the line on the unmarked side of the felt.

You want the path to end outside of where the felt will lay (see image).  Again, sew several overlapping stitches of the conductive thread at the end of this path.

Step 5: Battery Holder - Attach to Shoe

1. Shoe
2. Felt cut out
3. Regular Thread
4. Needle


Line the corners of the felt up with the marks you put on the shoe.  Make sure the unmarked side of the felt is facing up.  Sew along the outer edge of the felt using the regular thread. Do not sew the top of the felt cut out because thats where the battery will enter.

****This image is of the second shoe I made so the conductive path from the + end of the battery (path on the felt) goes towards the right, while the conductive path from the - end of the battery (path on shoe) goes towards the left.  You can see that the paths go in opposite directions.

Step 6: Switch to Turn on Lights

1. Shoes
2. Snaps (2)
3. Conductive thread
4. Needle


Since I took out the laces, I used two sets of snaps to keep the shoes tight.  This was also helpful because I used one set of snaps as the button to turn the LED's on a off.

1.  Attach the first set of snaps using regular thread

2.  Attach the second set of snaps using conductive thread. 

Just like with the battery holder, each snap sewn with conductive thread will have a conductive path leading away from the snap.  This just makes it easier to attache other electronics.  Hide the conductive path leading from the snap on the tongue of the shoe by putting at the edge of the tongue.

Look at my images to see how I sew my paths.

Step 7: Attach Resistor

1. Resistor
2. Shoe
3. Conductive Thread
4. Needle
5. Needle Nose Pliers

1. Prepare Resistor

Wrap the ends of the resistor around the tips of your needle nose pliers.  The ends should look circular and twirled.  See image.

2. Fasten Resistor
Attache one end of the resistor to the + end of the battery using conductive thread and the same loop and stitch technique you used for the snaps.

Fasten the other end of the resistor to the shoe using conductive thread.

Step 8: Prepare LED's

Regular LED's:
If you use regular LED's prepare them the same way you prepared the resistor by twirling the ends around the needle nose pliers

Surface Mount LED's
1. Crimp Beads (silver and copper)
2. Soldering Iron
3. Solder
4. Super Glue

1. Prepare the LED's:
Solder the copper crimp beads to the anode (+) of the LED and solder the silver crimp beads to the cathode (-) of the LED.

Put a drop of super glue on each connection to make sure the beads do not break off.

I made this little jig using cardboard and toothpicks to help keep the materials in place.

Step 9: Attach LED's

1. Conductive Thread
2. Shoes
3. Needle
4. LED's


1.  I wired these LED's in parallel.  Refer to the diagram and the pictures. 

2.  I made really long stitches with the conductive thread.  It won't snag on anything because it will eventually be protected with puff paint.

Step 10: Puff Paint!

1. Puff Paint
2. Shoes
3. Pencil

The puff paint has two benefits.  It covers up the thread and it prevents the thread from fraying. 

Create any pattern you like!

Step 11: LIGHT EM UP!

Slip the battery into the battery holder and fasten the snaps!

Check out the pics of my light up shoes.



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    9 Discussions

    Kink Jarfold

    10 months ago on Step 11

    Every time I browse the posts I'm amazed with the creativity out there. Very nice.

    SHOES ON SALE CAT.jpgHIGH 10.jpg

    8 years ago on Introduction

    just put a 555 timer blinker and all is done


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I think these would be pretty cool on some nice looking kicks. Maybe even better if EL Wire was incorporated?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This would probably look even better with another fabric layer, covering the circuitry, instead of that puff paint stuff. How long does the battery last?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i wouldn't be caught dead in these. i mean, if i were dead, i couldn;t stop anyone.. but, you know.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I had an idea, but I might enter it in another contest. 8>) Don


    8 years ago on Introduction

    AWESOME!!! Im gonna put them on my running shoes so now i can run at night!! thanks!!