Introduction: Neopixel Blinky Bling Wedding Garter
Make the occasion super special with a light up wedding garter. Well, any occasion is super special if there is a garter involved.
What if your garter already has bling? Add blinky bling with Neopixel LEDs to light up the night.
Need some more bling?
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Step 1: A Little Notion...
There is not much in materials that you will need to make your custom wedding garter.
A strip of fabric for the base. Satin or silky looking materials look the best.
A piece of wide elastic banding to incorporate into the garter to hold it in place when you wear it.
Enough lace trim to cover both edges of your garter. Caveat emptor, read the fine print on the package for those spools of ribbon and lace, what may look like a full roll of trim may only be a short length that was wound around a couple of times on a filler form for the rest of the spool. I did have enough for the project on one spool though.
I found some faux jewels/rhinestones that came in an adhesive strip form. The size was perfect for applying to a Neopixel strip.
You can add LED lights and make any fashion an electronic wearable in many different ways. I used an Adafruit Trinket and Neopixel LED strip.
You could probably do all the sewing by hand but having a sewing machine makes it easy. Having a serger machine even better.
Step 2: Something Borrowed...
The electronics and code for lighting up the Neopixel LEDs were based on Adafruit's tutorial for a Neopixel Tiara.
You will find a good tutorial over there to get things set up.
Mod the code to accomodate the number of Neopixels you will be using and pick out the colors you want to flash. Match the colors of the lights with the colors of the wedding party.
I used an Adafruit Trinket instead of an Adafruit Gemma, they are functionally equivalent Attiny85 based microcontroller boards with the Gemma being a little bit more wearable friendly.
I also used a single strip of 10 neopixels, left over from my various other projects, instead of discrete Neopixel LED elements.
I don't have a small rechargeable LiPo battery pack so I just wired up a double coin cell battery holder which gives about 6 volts(good for 5v Trinket and 5v Neopixels). I haven't tested how long the batteries will last but it should be enough to run for the duration of the garter belt festivities at the wedding reception.
I cut off the JST power connector on the battery pack and soldered the leads directly to the power pads on the Trinket.
Step 3: Give Me Your Satin and Lace...
or leather and lace...
It is easy to sew together the garter.
First cut a piece of wide elastic that will stretch and fit comfortably around your thigh.
Create a tube or seamed length of satin that will fit over your band of elastic.
It should be made about 1.5 times the length of the elastic so when it is pulled over the elastic, it will give that fancy ruffled, crunched up look.
I used a serger to seam a tube of fabric and then turned it inside out.
I then sewed on some lace trim with a coarse zigzag stitch along both sides of the finished tube.
Insert the elastic band through the tube and sew the two ends of the elastic together to form a circular band to wear.
Evenly distribute and gather the fabric tube along the elastic band.
There is the alternative of applying the elastic band directly to the fabric tube but that takes some skill in stretching out the band while trying to evenly feed the fabric through the sewing machine. You would also have to rethink using the "pocket" formed by the fabric tube as a place to insert the electronics since it would be sealed by sewing the elastic band over it.
Step 4: Bling It Out...
I found some faux jewels/rhinestones that were already laid out in a strip backed with adhesive.
That fit right over the silicone sheath of the Neopixel strip. I tried to place it so the bigger jewels wouldn't block the LED too much. They are opaque and reflect the natural light too.
Tape up the electronics so that it won't get caught up on the fabric. Feed the electronics through one open end of the fabric tube. Pass it all the way in to hide the wires.
You can secure the Neopixel strip by sewing a few stitches that wrap around the casing at the end and at a few other points where it may need support.
There is an on/off switch on the battery pack. It is easy to feel through the fabric to activate the lights.
So there you go, blinky bling your wedding garter. Make two, one to wear and one to toss.