"Mary Had a Little Lamb" Tote Bag

Introduction: "Mary Had a Little Lamb" Tote Bag

In my class on youth and technology in libraries, we designed projects using the LilyPad Arduino. I chose to make a tote bag with a lamb that lights up and sings "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I had never coded or sewn before, so I think this project is a great testament to how accessible the Arduino system can be.

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Step 1: Materials



  • Medium-sized canvas tote bag
  • 1/4 yard of white sherpa fleece
  • 1/4 yard of patterned cotton cloth
  • 1 sheet of tan felt
  • 1 sheet of black cardstock
  • 2 sheets of white cardstock for backing
  • Hot glue gun (or a sewing machine)

Step 2: Coding the Lilypad

Because I had never coded before, this step was a little overwhelming to me at first. To understand the basics, I took a look at Leah Buechley’s LilyPad tutorials. This was a great resource for learning the terms and notations for coding the Arduino. To start, I used the tutorials and examples in the Arduino to get the system to blink and play a scale. From there, I tweaked the code using the frequencies listed in the example to create a code that would play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" with the right notes, in the right key, with the right timing. I also set the LED to turn on when the song started and off after it finished. The code I used is attached.

Step 3: Planning and Prepping

After getting some crafting inspiration from Geek Gurl Diaries and brushing up on my knowledge of circuits, I laid out a plan for my project. I wanted light to shine from the lamb and the music to be audible from underneath the patterned fabric, but I also knew it was important for the positive and negative sides of the conductive thread not to touch, so I sketched out a plan for the bag, including where

  • decorative elements would be placed
  • Arduino elements would be placed
  • conductive thread would connect the elements

My plan is attached. For the most part, the bag turned out as planned, but upon reflection, I would really like to add a button to make turning the bag on and off easier.

Step 4: Crafting

Because I don't know how to sew (beyond stichting the conductive thread), I opted to connect the decorative elements of my bag with hot glue. It may sound a little sloppy, but it ended up working pretty well and was very easy.

Making the patterned circle:

  1. Cut white cardstock into circle about eight inches in diameter (depending on the size of the bag and what looks good).
  2. Cut patterned fabric into a circle about one inch larger in diameter than the cardstock circle.
  3. Make sure the pattern is straight and smooth on one side of the circle.
  4. Hot glue the extra material to the back of the circle.
  5. Cut a small one inch hole in the middle of the circle (through the cardstock and the fabric).
  6. Last, cut a five inch square of the patterned fabric (used for the inside pocket).

Making the lamb:

1. Cut body shapes out of white cardstock

  • one oval for the body (about five inches long)
  • four rounded rectangles for the legs (about two inches long)
  • one oval or circle for the face (about two inches long)
  • two small oval shapes for the ears
  • one small circle for the tail

2. Covering the cardstock

  • Cover the body, tail and ear pieces in sherpa fabric, using hot glue and the same method as used for the patterned circle.
  • Cover the legs and face with tan felt, using the same method as used for the patterned circle.

3. Prepping for assembly

  • Cut a small hole in the back of the cardstock used to create the body, without cutting through the sherpa.
  • Cut two small eyes, nose, and smile out of black cardstock.
  • Arrange lamb pieces on to patterned circle to make sure proportions look good and that the circles in the patterned circle and lamb body line up.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Arduino Elements
  1. Turn the bag inside out and sew in the Arduino board using conductive thread in the (-) and (11) spots. Loop the thread through several times to keep the board in place.
  2. Sew a conductive thread into (A5) through the bag and into the (+) side of the buzzer. The buzzer should rest about where the lambs head will be.
  3. Sew a conductive thread into (-) on the board to the (-) on the buzzer, making sure the buzzer's two conductive threads don't touch.
  4. Sew a conductive thread into (11) through the bag and the patterned circle and into the (+) side of an LED light. The LED light should fall in the middle of the patterned circle, where the lambs body will be.
  5. Sew a conductive thread into (-) on the board, through the bag and the patterned circle and into the (-) side of the buzzer.

Note: After each element was attached, I turned to board on to make sure that everything was still working and that no circuits were shorting.

Adding the Decorations

  1. Once the conductive thread, board, buzzer, and light are all in place, turn the bag right side out and use hot glue to attached the patterned circle, which should already have the LED resting in it.
  2. Hot glue the lambs body on top of the patterned circle, making sure the LED light is sticking through the cardstock backing and resting directly behind the sherpa fabric.
  3. Hot glue the face, legs, ears and tail of the lamb.
  4. Add the eyes, mouth, and nose to the face of the lamb with hot glue.
  5. Attach the patterned fabric square to the inside of the bag surrounding the Arduino.

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