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:
- Use basic embroidery stitches to add a string of LEDs on a lovely silver wire, no coding required!
- Go a little fancier with color-changing NeoPixels controlled by a Gemma M0 programmed in easy-to-learn Microsoft MakeCode.
- 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.
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).
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.
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)