How To: Make an LED Cuff

So, you know a little about electronics and want to make a light up cuff bracelet. Welcome! This tutorial will tell you how to use conductive thread to sew a simple circuit with an on/off switch.

Gather your materials:

Non-conductive fabric for the main part of your cuff

Conductive thread

Any complementary embellishments

1 Through hole LED with a forward voltage of approximately 3v

Non coated, metal clothing snaps, 1 set

Complementary non-conductive thread for attaching embellishments


Sewable CR2032 battery holder*

*If you use this battery holder, you’ll also need a battery retainer, solder, and a soldering iron

Helpful but not necessary:

You may find a piece of string helpful to accurately measure the material length required to comfortably fit around your wrist.

A fabric marker to draw your circuit and help line up the snaps on each end of the cuff

Conductive thread likes to come unknotted. Fray Check will help prevent this.

Fabric paint or hot glue to insulate the thread and decrease the rate that the thread oxidizes

Gather your tools:


Hand sewing needle

Needle threader (may not be absolutely necessary, but I find it very helpful)


Needle nose pliers

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Step 1  Measure your material by wrapping string or material around your wrist to determine desired length.

Things to remember:

-Flex and move your hand around to make sure it’s not too tight!

-If you want to attach the battery holder on the underside of the cuff (against your skin, so it’s not visible), you’ll need to cut the material a bit longer to prevent your cuff from fitting too tightly.

-The ends will need to overlap by a quarter to half of an inch for the snaps.

Step 2  Design your circuit

Step 3  Cut cuff material to desired length and width.

Step 4  Cut out any additional embellishments

Step 5  If using findings or embellishments that are conductive, lay out your design to make certain they won’t accidentally come into contact with your circuit and cause a short

Step 6  Before you can attach the LED to the fabric, you’ll need to spiral the leads. To easily tell the difference between the positive and negative leads, you can spiral them into different shapes.

Step 7  Using approximately 1-2 ft of conductive thread, secure the positive terminal to the fabric. Do not cut the thread! For an example of how to sew components to fabric, click here.

Step 8  Using the same piece of conductive thread from step 7, sew a running stitch to the positive terminal of your battery holder.  Tie a knot after the battery holder is secured to the fabric, apply a drop of fray check to the know to prevent it from coming undone, wait a few seconds for it to dry then snip off any excess thread.

Step 9  Using a new length of conductive thread, sew from the battery holder’s negative terminal to the end of the fabric, where you will secure one part of the snap. After securing the snap to the fabric, tie a knot, fray check to the knot to prevent it from coming undone, wait a few seconds for it to dry remove any excess thread.

Step 10 To mark where the second part of the snap should be attached, use the fabric marker to color the secured snap. wrap the cuff around your wrist and press the snap firmly against the fabric.

Step 11  Using conductive thread, sew a running stitch from the negative lead of the LED to the mark for the snap.

Step 12  Using the same conductive thread from step 11, secure the remaining half of the snap covering the mark you made in step 10.

Step 13  Insert your battery, and snap the cuff closed to test the circuit. Did it light? If so, awesome! If not, double check that your battery is inserted properly, and perform a visual inspection to be sure that your positive and negative stitches aren’t touching.

Step 14  If you’re using fabric paint or hot glue to insulate the conductive thread, you may find it helpful to apply that prior to attaching any additional findings or embellishments.

Step 15 Using non-conductive thread, attach any findings, embellishments, or fabric to finish off your cuff’s design.

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Starlight Parade Inspiration

Looking to add lighting effects to your shoes? Check out these easy to follow tutorials by  !




Want to hang out with other creative types, while working your project? Join us from for Crafty Circuits!

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Project of the Day

Hello everyone!

This project of the day is brought to you by lasers, light emitting diodes, Adafruit, and p3nguin.

I present to you, the Laser Crown!


Click the image above to view the Instructable for making this fabulous crown!

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Time for Crafty Circuits!

Hello my lovelies!

Just wanted to remind everyone that Crafty Circuits is happening this Monday, 17 March from 6-9pm

Don’t have a project? Bring your creativity and ideas!

Having difficulty tracking down a few key supplies? Contact me ahead of time for some help wrangling those last few components!

Hope to see you there!



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Announcing Crafty Circuit Nights!

Interested in wearable and physical computing, and crafts? Have some projects you’d like to work on, but could benefit from a creative atmosphere? Starting March 3rd, Cacophonous Creations and Flux Lab team up to offer just the space! 

  • When: Starting March 3rd and every other Monday following (March 17th, 31st, and so on) from 6-9pm
  • Where: Flux Lab, 422 NW Couch St. Portland OR 
  • You bring your projects and supplies.
  • We’ll be on hand to answer some of your soft circuit questions, to share tips and tricks, and support your creative endeavors! 

Things to note:

  • This is an alcohol free, all ages space. 
  • Some components will be available for purchase. Please contact Cat ( if there’s something specific you want available for your project.
  • While this is a free event, we will be setting out a tip jar to help raise funds to cover the costs of hosting this awesome bi-weekly event.

For more about Flux Labs, please visit their website

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Introducing the Squeakapus

Here’s a fun tutorial I put together for OSH Park to blend the squeak-tastic drawdio with soft circuits. Hope you enjoy! 
Squeakapus is kitty’s overlord!

This hexapod features an 8 ohm speaker hat and 10 conductive patches (one on the side of his head and 9 on his tentacles) that allow you to access the squeaky theremin-like powers of the Drawdio pcb hidden inside.

Bill Of Materials*:

  • IC1: TLC551
  • Q1: PN2907
  • C1: 680pF ceramic capacitor
  • C2: 100uF / 6.3V capacitor (or higher)
  • C3: 0.1uF ceramic capacitor
  • R1: 1/4W 5% 10 MEGAohm resistor (Brown, Black, Blue, Gold) OR 1/4W 5% 20 MEGAohm resistor (Red, Black, Blue, Gold)
  • R2: 1/4W 5% 10 ohm resistor (Brown, Black, Black, Gold)
  • RA: 1/4W 5% 10K resistor (Brown, Black, Orange, Gold)
  • RB: 1/4W 5% 300K resistor (Orange, Black, Yellow, Gold)
  • Drawdio PCB
  • 8Ohm speaker
  • CR2032
  • CR2032 holder
  • Plush pattern (I modified this one from FutureGirl) Make certain that which ever pattern you choose allows for concealing the PCB, which is 3.2in x 0.5in x0.03in.
  • 22 gauge solid core wire in red
  • 22 gauge solid core wire in black
  • Felt, 1 sheet for main color and about 1 inch x 0.5 inch of contrasting color (any non-stretchy fabric will work)
  • Embroidery floss
  • 4-ply conductive thread
  • Needle threader
  • Fray check or nail polish
  • Poly-fiber
  • Optional: Pins to hold your pattern to the felt while you cut it out. You could trace the pattern on the fabric instead.
  • Optional: Fabric paint or embellishments to add details to your creation

* Note: Kits containing some of these materials are available through Makershed and Adafruit.


  • Scissors
  • Soldering iron
  • Size 24 tapestry needle- A narrower size would work as well, but any wider and it won’t fit through the holes on the battery holder.
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Optional: if you’re using the octopus design, a chopstick/ pencil/ popsicle stick will help you poke the stuffing into the ends of the tentacles.
  • Optional: Hot glue/ glue gun
  • Needle nose pliers
  • snips

Make it!

1. Solder the 551 chip in place, while using a bit of thermal tape to hold it in place on the PCB if necessary. Be certain to note the little notch to make sure that you’re inserting it properly.

2. Solder in the the PNP to the Q1 spot, leaving enough room to bend it flat against the pcb.

3. Solder the 680pF ceramic capacitor in C1.

4. Solder the 100uF / 6.3V capacitor (or higher) in the C2 spot being careful not to put it in backwards.

5. Solder the 0.1uF ceramic capacitor in C3.

6. Use your snips to trim the leads, cutting them close to the solder joint. [For tips on trimming best practices, check out this forum.]

7. Solder the resistors in place. Since they aren’t diodes, there’s no need to worry about accidentally putting them in backwards. R1: Brown, Black, Blue, Gold OR Red, Black, Blue, Gold.

8. R2: Brown, Black, Black, Gold

9. RA: Brown, Black, Orange, Gold

10. RB: Orange, Black, Yellow, Gold

11. Trim off excess leads.

12. Line the PCB up with the section of your pattern where you want to put it, and measure for the 4 lengths of wire (2 red and 2 black) that you’ll need to connect to the pcb to the speaker and also from the battery to the pcb. You’ll be winding the end, so be sure to add about an inch.

PCB guts with twisted wiring to speaker
Twisted speaker wires
PCB guts with wiring to battery holder
Spiraled wires for battery holder

13. Strip about 0.5 inches from both ends of each piece of wire from Step 12.

14. Solder the wires in to the holes for the speaker and battery holder.

15. So that you can sew the wire securely to the felt, spiral the ends as shown in the pictures above.

16. If you have longer sections of wire, twist them together. This will cut down on some of the wire fatigue.  For added protection, especially if you plan on giving this to someone who won’t be so gentle with it, use some hot glue to your solder joints.

17. The wires that come already attached to the back of the speaker are pretty flimsy. Use your soldering iron to carefully heat the pads and remove them.

18. Make two small hoops from bare wire

19. Carefully solder the hoops to the back of the speaker where the wires were previously.

speaker rings

20. Put a dab of hot glue over the solder joint on the back of the speakers. Should the hoops get pulled off, there’s a good chance the pads will come off too. The hot glue will help prevent this.

21. Using conductive thread, sew the battery holder to the fabric, connecting to the exposed ends of the corresponding wires. Remember to use a different piece of conductive thread to connect each terminal. Be careful not to sew them too closely together, which can cause your circuit to short after your new friend is all assembled.

CR2032 battery holder

22. and 23. Using the conductive thread, repeat the process for the speaker. Be sure to leave room for a conductive patch that you’ll connect to the top pad of the pcb.

8Ohm speaker "hat" and conductive patch

24. Use a piece of conductive thread to create a patch from the opposite end of the pcb to the outside of the material.

25. Insert the battery and put a finger on each of the conductive patches. If your circuit is connected properly, you should hear a squeak. If you don’t, you may have inadvertently inserted the battery backwards or you may have a short.

26. If your circuit works, use your non-conductive thread to finish assembling your new friend, filling it with the poly-fiber as you go.

27. If you want to add more patches of conductive thread to create points of varying resistance, do so now.

Conductive Squeakapus "suckers"

You can now distract yourself (and annoy your friends) with your new, squeak-tastic buddy!

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December’s 4th Saturday Workshop at Lovecraft!


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December 4, 2013 · 14:12