EL wire for beginners.

I love lights on things, as evidenced by my company Lumen Electronic Jewelry.  Never enough blinky.

I’ve been wanting to do something with EL wire for years but always assumed it would be difficult.

To my surprise, it wasn’t that difficult at all.  I am an elementary level seamstress, so if I can do it you probably can too.

A quick google search turned up this and this reference.   It seemed I only needed 3 things to get started with a simple project.

1. Blue EL wire off Amazon, $9


2. A coat from my local thrift shop, $5.


3. Clear thread or thin fishing line. $1.50


Next I pinned the EL wire to the coat several different ways to figure out how I wanted it to look.  I decided running it along the collar would look coolest and be the simplest to sew.

Next I whip stitched the EL wire onto the coat while watching Netflix.  This took about 2 hours, which is nothing for a sewing project.


I found both the EL wire and clear thread were slippery to work with, but manageable.  The above references also advised against making sharp corners, as this can break the delicate wires inside.  I was content to have the collar corners rounded.


When I reached the end of the jacket I simply cut the wire and covered the end with a small piece of electrical tape so I didn’t get any (more) electric shocks.


I was very happy with the final effect.  You couldn’t see the clear thread once the wire was lit up.



It went over really well at TeslaCon.  So well that I wore it for all 3 days, forgoing the other costumes I had planned.  Many people asked how I had done it and I was happy to explain.  All the compliments amused me because it was relatively simple to do.  Especially simple when compared to the amazing costumes on display at the Con which may have easily taken hundreds of hours to finish.

All in all I call it a success.  The only annoying thing was the battery pack.


I had planned to simply clip it to my pant waist under the coat.  This worked fine unless I sat down or went to use the restroom.  Then the battery pack slipped off the top of my pants and hung down.  The weight of the battery pack would pull the EL wire down, scrunching and deforming the collar.  I would then have to push it back up,  every. single. time.  Annoying over a 3 day con.

So for next time I will sew the battery pack onto the coat.  I’ll also try my hand at soldering the EL wire.  I’d like to add a Y to the power so I can add it on the cuffs.  I’ll report back on how that goes, the references make it out to be more difficult.  I’m pretty handy at soldering thanks to Lumen, but you never know till you try it.

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  1. November 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    This looks great! I’m looking at incorporating EL wire into a costume for next year’s DragonCon, but hadn’t really looked at what it takes yet.

  2. November 24, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    A friend of mine really likes the EL wire effect but is put off with the noise generated by the power supplies. Know of any quieter options?

  3. November 24, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Not really, all the power supplies have a hum to some extent. I didn’t notice it in a noisy con, and under my cloths it was quieter.  You could insulate the power supply with some foam, etc to block the noise.  It didn’t get warm so I don’t imagine it would overheat if insulated.

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