I was excited when the box arrived from Adafruit! I’d read about all these cool projects, like the messenger bag that can display a scrolling text from your phone, or a skirt with sequins that light up when you move. Having minimal hands-on experience with electronics, I decided to get some practice with the purse lights projects before moving on to something more complex.
Gathering Project Supplies
Here’s what was in the box: Conductive hook & loop (Velcro), Gemma microcontroller, LED sequins (I ordered the pink ones), 2-ply conductive thread, battery holder, two lithium coin-cell batteries. Here’s what I already had: purse, scissors, needles. I also got some alligator clips to test the components before sewing them into the project. I had already downloaded and reviewed the instructions from the Adafruit website, so it was time to get started!
First , in order to test the sequin LEDs, I connected one sequin LED at a time to the Gemma microcontroller with the alligator clips. Once the Blink code was loaded, it was easy to see that each LED was working as expected.
Sewing a Circuit
The next step was to sew the circuit into the purse. I had a hard time seeing how the circuit in the instructions applied to the layout of the purse, so I redid the drawing to make it easier to follow.
Before starting to hand sew the components to the fabric lining of the purse, I turned the purse inside out. Using the 2-ply conductive thread, I sewed the Gemma to the fabric lining of the purse by knotting the end of the thread and then stitching through the fabric and the ground (GND) pad and back through again 2-3 times. With the same thread, I continued stitching over to the first sequin LED and connected to the negative (-) side, looped 3 times, stitched an inch or so over, and attached the next sequin LED, also on the negative (-) side.
Purse with a Circuit
After attaching all the sequins on the negative side, I knotted the end, and started with a new length of conductive thread. This time I knotted the end again, and attached the Gemma to the fabric liner of the purse by stitching through the A1/D2 pad and continued to each sequin LED on the positive (+) side. At this point, I updated the blink code to address all 5 sequin LEDs, then connected the USB cable from the Gemma to the laptop, and uploaded the new code to test the circuit.
In Part 2, I will add the hook & loop to act as the switch, and update the code to control when the LEDs turn off and on.