If youâ€™re looking to add a little extra shine to your needlework and sewing projects, youâ€™ll definitely want to check out this LED Sewing Kit from Becky at Sternlab.org. Even if you donâ€™t have previous experience with creating circuits, donâ€™t worryâ€”the kits are easy to use and yield great results. Before I started this review, Iâ€™d never used conductive thread or LEDs in any of my projects, but I didnâ€™t have any trouble getting started. Plus, at $10 each, the LED Sewing Kits are an inexpensive way to delve into working with sewable electronics, no extra tools (or big investments) required!
Inspired by the frog and lightening bug sample project on Beckyâ€™s LED instruction page, I created this simple firefly jar pattern for my review. If you want to stitch one of your own, head over to my site, The Zen of Making, to download the free pattern.
According to the Sternlab.org website:
Use this kit for enhancing your needlework project or garment with lights. Use with my free tutorial:
The kit includes:
-1 sewable battery holder
-1 CR2032 coincell battery
-7 feet of conductive thread (enough for one or two projects)
-2 5mm LEDs (the LED lights come in blue, white, pink, warm white, red, green, or yellow)
-1 metal snap for creating a switch
Price: $10 on sale (the regular price is $15)
LED Sewing Kits can be purchased from the Sternlab.org store.
What I loved:
1. The instructions were web-based, including a thorough photo tutorial, a chart explaining how to make the circuit, a sample embroidery pattern, and a YouTube video walking you through the complete process. (You can find the instructions here.)
2. The kit contained everything I needed to add two LED lights to my project, and there was no soldering or previous electrical knowledge required.
3. The battery holder was thin enough that the finished product could lay completely flat when framed in a standard embroidery hoop.
4. Though it was a bit more slippery than regular embroidery floss, the conductive thread was easy to work with and my stitches looked neat and straight.
5. Installing a switch is included in the instructions the instructions, so you donâ€™t have to worry about inserting and removing a battery to turn your project on and off. (I would probably misplace the battery immediately if there wasn’t a switch on my project.)
6. The 7 feet of conductive thread that came with the kit was enough length for me to finish my full project, even with a couple of mistakes.
7. The LED lights come in blue, white, pink, warm white, red, green, and yellow, so you can choose the color that works best for your project.
8. After I read the instructions and familiarized myself with the basics of completing a circuit, the LED sewing kit was intuitive and very easy to use.
What I didnâ€™t love:
1. The conductive thread is visible in the finished project.
One can certainly come up with options for hiding stitches, but they are visible in a basic project. And, while they looked nice in my firefly piece, I can think of a few ideas wherein visible stitches would definitely be an issue. (To be fair, I want to point out that Sternlab.org can’t help that the stitches are visible, and it definitely doesn’t indicate a defect in the kit.)
2. For the switch, I used the metal snap that came with the kit instead of the toggle switch, which was shown in the instructions. Because the snap isn’t specifically shown in the instructions, I wasnâ€™t sure exactly where I should put it, but Becky instructed me to sew down one side of the snap, then to make a dangle with conductive thread that would attach the other side of the snap to the battery holder. It worked like a charmâ€”when you snap the two sides together, the project lights up.
3. Because of the metal wire in the conductive thread, I had a harder time getting my stitches to lay flat than I generally do with regular embroidery floss.
4. According to Becky, the thread in the kits is made using silver wire, so it will eventually tarnish and need to be replaced. On a finished project, that generally happens in about a year, but thread in a sealed bag can last much longer. This means that, at some point, your lights will stop working, and the thread will need to be replaced to restore power to your project.
Tips for sewing with conductive thread:
â€¢ Conductive thread contains a tiny metal wire, so you wonâ€™t want to use your best embroidery scissors when cutting pieces to length.
â€¢ Youâ€™ll want to have a needle threader on hand, as the ends of the conductive thread do fray, and can be hard to insert into the eye of the needle.
I really had a great time trying out the LED Sewing Kit, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s curious about combining electronics with sewing. In my opinion, the price is reasonable, the kit is easy to work with, and the results look fantastic!
Ready to get stitching? You can download my pattern for free at The Zen of Making.
Disclosure: Samples provided for review, but my opinions are honest and my own!
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