This is a fun little project which could be used to make unusual christmas decorations, an ornament for your home or car, or a hanging nightlight for a child. I used handmade felt, but any fabric would do. the main feature is a colour-changing LED light in the middle of the star. I used a sewable LED kit from Kitronik’s Electro-Fashion range. Their site is well worth a look if you are after unusual craft ideas such as sewable circuitry and lights, foiling tools or heat-fix diamante gems.
I began by making the front and back of the star in red felt, adding fine layers of blue and turqoise merino fleece to create a grading of colour at one side and working it in with a multi-pronged felting needle. I marked where the LED would be on the front and added beads as further decoration.
When I had completed this stage it was time to add the LED. The kit consists of a colour-changing LED bulb, a battery holder and battery and some conductive thread. I also used an on/off switch since the battery won’t be accessible once the star is finished.
First of all I made a small hole in the centre of the star for the LED bulb.The bulb has two wires attached, the longer one is positive and the shorter is negative. I used a small pair of pliers to bend the wires into loops which would lie flat against the back of the fabric, making sure I could tell which one was which!
I stitched the bulb in place using one strand of the conductive thread around the positive loop and one around the negative, being sure to wrap the thread firmly around the wire several times to make a good connection. I didn’t want the bulb to stick out too far on the front of the star so I used a scrap of spare felt to space it back from the hole a little.
I then added the battery holder to the back of the star, next to the bulb, and put the battery in for a minute to touch the thread to the terminal and check that it would work – that part was fun, it’s amazing to see what appears to just be silky grey thread causing a bulb to light up!
Using the thread on the positive side I stitched around to the positive terminal on the battery holder, again making sure the connection was good. circuitryI repeated this with the negative thread, taking care that the two strands would not touch each other once the pieces were sewn in place.
Once the electronics were in place I lined up the two halves of the star and made a hole in the back piece to allow access to the switch. I added a loop of ribbon to hang the finished star, and sewed the two sides together, stuffing the star as I went along but leaving a space so as not to obscure the switch.
The large lithium battery will last a very long time since the LED uses very little power and can be switched off when not in use. It’s also surprisingly bright – bright enough that as well as being ornamental it could be used as a night light for a child, to take camping, find your keys or to dimly light a step to avoid anyone tripping in the night. You could also include a bag of potpourri, lavender or another fragrance and hang it up to scent your room.
So there you have it – a step by step guide to making an illuminated star of your own! I hope it inspires you to have a go – I had a lot of fun making it!