Light Up Any Costume

Introduction: Light Up Any Costume

About: Everything seems interesting to me! I teach Nutrition at the University of Colorado, make stuff for a small company called Kitables, advocate for sustainability and play the occasional game of soccer.

Halloween time! If you're the type who likes to construct your costume, you've probably wanted to add lights at some point. Reasons to add lighting to a costume: safety at night, character relevant, just looks cool. This is a really straightforward way to add lights. I tried to list out links to purchase items on your own, otherwise, you can buy a kit to get started.

Step 1: Parts List

  1. Costume or fabric to light up
  2. Conductive thread [$2.95]
  3. Sewing needle - the usual hand sewing type works fine
  4. Surface mount LEDs [$3.95 for 5] - you could use regular through hole LEDs, but I like the surface mount as they're less pokey
  5. Power - here I'm using the Lilypad Coin Cell Battery Holder with switch [$4.95] Any sort of battery holder would work, this has a nice and clean profile
  6. Battery - this is the usual CR2032 type [$1.95]

If you don't have the time (or the patience) to find all the parts, you can get a kit that includes 40LEDs and 30m of thread for about $35 at this link:

TOOLS: You will need a hot glue gun.

Step 2: Wiring Diagram

Wiring is pretty easy. Positive LED terminal together, Negative LED terminals together, route those to your power source Positive and Negative respectively. Boom! Electricity! Science!

Step 3: Prepare Your Costume

I'm using a tutu for this example. Under the lace layer, there's a solid piece of fabric for the skirt. This is where I will place my LEDs. To start, I draw out a pattern I want my LEDs to follow.I used a marker, but you can also use chalk if you really want to hide your work.

Another prep item, you can check your LEDs by running a small bit of conductive thread from each terminal to the sides of your battery (or battery terminals). The small LED will light up in the middle. If you have a mix of colors, this is the way to check what's what.

Step 4: Layout Your LEDs

Layout your LEDs along your pattern. This is a way to determine spacing especially if you're limited on your number of LEDs.

Step 5: Glue LEDs

Once you have a pattern. Use your hot glue to secure each LED in place -- glue under the LED!

Step 6: Add Your Power

Place your battery holder in a convenient location near your circuit but easily accessible to switch on/off.

Step 7: Sew!

  1. Thread your needle with the conductive thread.
  2. Starting from one end of your pattern, sew multiple loops around the first positive terminal. Finish underneath the fabric. Continue connecting your positive terminals together by sewing loops and then stitching a line to the next LED. Your stitch that runs between LEDs can be completed however is easiest for you. You just want to have a secure stitch so loose thread doesn't get tangled or crossed later.
  3. At the last LED, finish your loop through the positive terminal and tie off underneath the fabric.
  4. Do the same process for the Negative LEDs
  5. Once you have your positive and negative lines, sew a positive line to the positive terminal on the power source and a separate negative line to the negative terminal on the power source.

Step 8: Test Your Circuit.

Put the battery in your power source and turn on your switch to test the LEDs work. (It's probably a good idea to test this as you go). Once your circuit works, insulate the wires by covering the line with your hot glue.

Step 9: Party!!

You're now ready to shine. Great for adding some value to a drab costume or for the occasional rave you might attend.

Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

Participated in the
Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

Halloween Costume Contest 2016

Participated in the
Halloween Costume Contest 2016

LED Contest

Participated in the
LED Contest

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