Tenaya created the Beginner kit for the Maker who wants to get started sewing with conductive thread. Choose 10 LEDs in two of 6 colors and create a circuit in a garment or accessory you own! Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Pink, and White LEDs are available. Specify your 2 color choices, I offer combinations that I know work together. These components are washable, remove the battery first, and line dry or dry flat. Master this basic activity and you could graduate to sewing more sensors and programmable microcontrollers into garments.
Prototype with alligator clips first, or you can use the conductive thread and clear tape to lay down on top of the circuit. Ultimately, you will sew the circuit which takes a little longer, but make sure to take the time in the beginning to test your circuit! I will provide you with diagrams you can try, but I want to keep it a little vague because you’ll find it is so fun to discover it on your own! My Deluxe kit comes with alligator clips and more materials, but my Beginner kit has all you need to add 10 lights to something and see if you like having your own wearable tech, that YOU made!
Sew around the holes of your components just like a button – 4 to 6 times on each hole. Tie lots of knots when you begin or end your thread because conductive thread needs it. For regular thread, sewing with a double thread is a good thing, but use only a single thread when sewing with conductive thread. Imagine your circuit as a ladder and the LEDs are the rungs; you’ll sew one side, connecting all the positive sides of the LEDs to the battery holder. A 2nd thread connecting all the negative sides of the battery holder and LEDs. There are 2 + and 2 – pads on the Lilypad, so if you use both sides to make 2 circuits, 4 separate threads should leave your Lilypad battery holder to create 2 sides of the circuit. You only have to use one + and one -, but you have options.
Most importantly as a Maker, learn to fail and learn by trying it! We’re all on the side of the electricity working. These materials are safe and if short circuiting happens (where electricity isn’t going through the LEDs, but is going straight back to the battery), there will be no melting, the battery will just drain. Replacement batteries are readily available at a low cost on Amazon or Ebay, but a little pricey at a regular pharmacy store.