Nobody likes hat hair, but that's no reason to let your ears freeze! Earwarmers are the perfect compromise -- cute and warm, but plenty of room for your hair to breathe free.

And by doubling the fabric to create a tube, you've got a handy place to hide a small battery holder -- enough to power a string of festive LEDs or stitch on some programmable NeoPixels!

This super-simple project lets you dress up your winter wear three different ways:

  1. Use basic embroidery stitches to add a string of LEDs on a lovely silver wire, no coding required!
  2. Go a little fancier with color-changing NeoPixels controlled by a Gemma M0 programmed in easy-to-learn Microsoft MakeCode.
  3. For a challenge, weave a little CircuitPython magic into the Gemma to tap into a secret temperature sensor that shows you the chill factor in colored NeoPixels.

Parts List -- Non-Programmable Version

The Wire Light LED Strand comes with a battery holder -- all you need to add are two CR2032 coin cell batteries. And they're easy to work with, because the wires are insulated and won't short out if they touch. They're even waterproof! I used the Cool White LEDs, but you can also get red, blue, green, and warm white.

Wire Light LED Strand - 12 Cool White LEDs + Coin Cell Holder

PRODUCT ID: 894
Add sparkle to your project with these lovely silver wire LED strands. These strands are very interesting, they use two silver wires that are coated so they don't short if they...
$4.95
IN STOCK

CR2032 Lithium Coin Cell Battery

PRODUCT ID: 654
A perfect match for our sew-able coin cell holder. This non-rechargeable coin cell is CR2032 sized: 20mm diameter, 3.2mm thick. It...
$0.95
IN STOCK

Parts List -- MakeCode and CircuitPython Versions

The hardware is the same for both programmable versions. Just the code is different -- so you can even switch back and forth! And don't forget the batteries (above).

Adafruit GEMMA M0 - Miniature wearable electronic platform

PRODUCT ID: 3501
The Adafruit Gemma M0 is a super small microcontroller board, with just enough built-in to create many simple projects. It may look small and cute: round, about the...
$9.95
IN STOCK

Flora RGB Smart NeoPixel version 2 - Pack of 4

PRODUCT ID: 1260
What's a wearable project without LEDs? Our favorite part of the Flora platform is these tiny smart pixels. Designed specifically for wearables, these updated Flora NeoPixels have...
$7.95
IN STOCK

2 x 2032 Coin Cell Battery Holder - 6V output with On/Off switch

PRODUCT ID: 783
This tiny coin cell battery holder is ideal for small portable or wearable projects. It holds two 20mm coin cells (2032 are the most popular size) in series to generate 6V nominal. (If...
$1.95
IN STOCK

Stainless Medium Conductive Thread - 3 ply - 18 meter/60 ft

PRODUCT ID: 641
After months of searching, we finally have what we consider to be the ultimate conductive thread. It's thin, strong, smooth, and made completely of 316L stainless steel. Once you...
$9.95
IN STOCK

Suggested Tools List

Here are some recommended tools, but feel free to use what you have on hand. Standard crewel (embroidery) needles also work well with conductive thread.

Super Scissors

PRODUCT ID: 1599
Save your scissors! Instead of using your nice shears (and dulling them) or wire cutters (not right for the job) - use these super scissors. They're meant for engineering/maker...
$14.95
IN STOCK

Needle set - 3/9 sizes - 20 needles

PRODUCT ID: 615
Mighty needles, sew like the wind! This needle set is the only one you'll need for any sort of hand sewing, especially using our conductive thread and wearable electronics...
$1.95
IN STOCK

Suggested Materials List

The construction of the earwarmer headband is the same for all three versions. Here's what you will need, in addition to the parts and tools listed above:

  • felt or fleece (in one or more colors) -- warm, soft, and easy to sew because they don't fray. The nice thick felt used for the examples in this guide was made by shrinking wool sweaters  (Instructions for felting sweaters can be found multiple places online or in my book Fabric and Fiber Inventions)
  • regular cotton or polyester thread -- use where you want stitches to be secure but not overly visible
  • embroidery floss -- great for decorative stitching that draws attention, and for covering up electronics
  • straight pins -- to hold the fabric together while you work
  • seam ripper -- for fixing mistakes

Optional, depending on the version you'll be making:

  • tape (for holding the wire LEDs in place as you sew)
  • adhesive dots (tiny ones to hold the NeoPixels in place as you sew)
  • liquid seam sealant like Fray Check, or clear nail polish (for securing the conductive thread)
  • press-on fabric adhesive sheets, such as Peel n Stick Fabric Fuse (for attaching felt appliques over NeoPixels and conductive thread stitches) 
This guide was first published on Dec 25, 2019. It was last updated on Dec 25, 2019. This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 28, 2020.