First off, this tutorial is meant for total noobs who, much like me, have never touched a soldering iron in their lives, mean to since years but never seem to find the time… Thanks again to the people who inspired me at 30C3!
I made my first try at modding a hoodie with EL wire and I want to share the steps with you. It’s not that hard. Of course you can order them on etsy or something. They’re like 40 Euros and up. But if you prefer to make things (yay! making!), by all means, do. It’ll be much more rewarding.
– a hoodie
[with zipper or not, but a pocket will be essential (15-40Euro)]
– 1 m (or more if you are taller) of portable electroluminescent wire.
[ Color of your choice. It will probably come with an inverter and connectors. You can build them yourself or just order them online, or better yet, make your local shopkeeper happy. (3-10 Euro)]
– 2 AA batteries
– about 1 m of black velcro tape
[Again, more if you are tall – I’m not. ^^ (1-2 Euro)]
– black thread (1-2 Euro)
– plastic invisible thread
[you can buy a length of thin fishing line or sometimes find them in crafting stores in the decoration section (1-5 Euro)]
– heat shrink or sugru
– tailor’s chalk or white kajal
– measuring tape
– optional: a sewing machine (80-infinite Euro)
– or: a sharp needle
[And lots of patience (nerves).]
1 First, line out where you want the wire to run with tailor’s chalk or white kajal.
2 Sew on one side of the velcro tape along these lines with the black thread.
[ You can do this manually or use a sewing machine. A wide zig-zag stitch is recommended. (Note: You should really exchange your sewing machine needle afterwards because hard materials like velcro really fuck it up.)]
3 Cut off the velcro where you don’t need it. Now meassure this line and match up your EL wire and the other side of the velcro to this for trial.
4 Sew on the EL wire on the outer side of the other piece of velcro.
[ Machine: I wasn’t sure if I could do this with the machine, but luckily I got a very thin plastic thread that worked with the machine. It’s tricky to use, though, because it curls up a lot. Again, make sure that you use the widest zigzag-stitch possible. The wire has to stay exactly in the middle so it won’t be damaged.
Hand: You don’t have to sew on the whole length, you can also make the wire stay with little points of thread only.]
5 Try to match wire and velcro again, cut off where not needed.
6 Secure the end of the wire.
[ I used a little blob of sugru for this (which is great, btw). You can also use some heat shrink if you have it.]
7 Make a little hole in one pocket of your zipper. Put the inverter inside, wiggle the connector through the hole.
8 Put your EL wire velcro line on your zipper, connect to inverter. Switch on. Look splendid!
This is just the start though. You can make really cool designs on other pieces of clothing or accessories, like for example Lady Ada’s tron bag (see video below). The advantage of this velcro technique is that you can take the wire off and wash your garment as usual. Experiment! Use two different colors, make swirls or zigzags or…
If you are into hacking clothes, Adafruit is the place to go. I’m looking forward to trying out more, maybe use an Arduino next time… We’ll see.