Nightfall: DIY LED Party Coat



New York City finally repealed its very outdated Cabaret Law.

So let’s dance.

You’ll need the right outfit for the occasion.

Follow these 12 instructions to create your own light-activated party coat. The sequin LEDs on the front of the coat turn on and off automatically based on the ambient light: when the lights go down, it’s party time.

And if this coat feels too ambitious, just enjoy some tassel-making with this video:






Ellen’s Final Project Proposal_V2

This project is a tech-savvy fashion piece called “Between Evening and Morning.”

It’s a wildly eccentric cape that detects the surrounding light and sends a signal to turn on or off the emerald green sequin LEDs that are embedded throughout plush, sparkly tassels on the cape’s surface. It’s a statement piece.

Cape_V2_LDR input sensor

Please see the proposal specifications here in this Google doc.

I’d be thrilled with any suggestions you may have. I’m pretty confident in the sewing & tassel-making part of this project, but a little tenuous regarding the circuitry and coding.


Ellen does Arduino, Round V

Antya and I partnered for this Huzzah wifi board exploration, which was especially helpful given that we each had hardware/downloading issues, and we needed each others’ resources. The wifi connection on the 7th floor is notoriously slow, which heightened our anticipation and eventual excitement as we tried to establish the wifi connection.




Final Project Brainstorm

Wearing a costume, especially one with blinking lights, attracts a lot of attention at a party. That’s the intention. But how can you avoid the pesky reaching hands that want to touch and prod at whatever it is that you’re wearing?

Inspired by the Back Off! brooch created by Phuong Anh, Tzu-Ching, Oomung and André, my proposal is a wearable ornament with a light output that reacts to proximal motion. Essentially, the piece sparkles brilliantly, but dulls and eventually turns off completely when people get too close. Now you can be the center of attention without worrying about strangers reaching for your precious creation.


Tassels and Tinsel

Cape // shawl // epaulettes

Reflective material with 2 neo pixel strips embedded within for supreme brightness. The colors will oscillate within a narrow spectrum of colors that coordinate with the color of the tinsel material. The motion input sensor will be worn on the person’s chest.

tassels and tinsel

Happy Mask

soft sculpture for the face

The tricky part of this proposal will be getting the expression to be silly and inviting, not creepy. There will be a short series of LEDs on the crown of the head, or down the center of the face.

happy mask

Crystals and Pills

hood // shawl

This wearable item will be patterned after paintings & doodles that I make with crystal & pill motifs. There will be several bright LEDs embedded throughout the detailed pattern, and again, the motion input sensor on the wearer’s chest.

Crystals and pills_proposal




Bunny Nightlight Prototype 2

Making this bunny was a long journey, and it isn’t over yet (he still needs some edits). There were fabric selection hiccups, an embroidery machine injury, and five or six re-wiring attempts.

This bunny’s best features are his large size, his softness and his slinkiness. I think I achieved the scale and the versatility that I was aiming for, but his wires are still nonoperational, and that needs to be fixed!

Bunny wiring process

‘Hang in There’ Bunny Nightlight Prototype 🐰

Let’s start with the circuit diagram. I’d like to put a series of 3 purple LEDs into the bum of the stretched-out bunny form. I bought 5mm LEDs and this x2 AA battery pack.

Circuit Diagram_Hang in There_Plush nightlight

And now for the prototypes. I experimented with light diffusion using this strand of magenta El wire. (It’s what I had on-hand), but will replace that with the purple LEDs for the actual light. I stuffed materials with pillow fill (strange combo of synthetic fluff and plastic flakes) and foam tufts (typically sold as a beanbag stuffing).


A grey nylon stocking served as a tentative bunny body. Here it’s stuffed with pillow fill & an El wire:


Then I stuffed the grey nylon stocking with the foam ‘tufts.’ It glows exceptionally well, but creates a terrible texture on the surface.


The cotton head & ears of the bunny, stuffed with foam tufts:

Hang in There prototype

Thank goodness for the prototyping stage because I’m not thrilled with how any of these came out. What I will change for the next steps:

  1. Narrower ears and even more narrow pink ear inserts. This should allow the bunny’s head to have a softer curve on top.
  2. Smaller texture of fill. The foam tufts give the bunny a bumpy surface, which looks uncomfortably close to the texture of cellulite.

Plush Nightlight Proposals

The Organ

Proposal 1: “The Organ”  This 6ft. behemoth is soft and malleable: he can be hung from the loop at the top of the structure, or he can be draped from another point along his body, allowing the owner to customize his drop length. Who might want this? An art aficionado with a penchant for soft sculpture…or a passionate internist.



Proposal 2: “Plinth”  Economical carpet lining foam is transformed into a marble-esque surface on this sleek yet playful light object. The internal LEDs create a soft glow from Plinth’s sides. Who might want this? A minimalist with children. (Soft floor lamps don’t break when knocked over).

Hang in There

Proposal 3: “Hang in There”  This nightlight/object is a cheeky and cheerful bunny who hangs from your ceiling. His eyes glow, but certainly not in a creepy way.  Who might want this? Any child or adult who likes bunnies.

Ellen Does Arduino, Round II

Digital Input exercise:


Serial Monitor exercise:


I really wanted to figure out one of the more challenging prompts–to create an RGB mixer controlled by 3 buttons. I tried several times, to no avail.


And so here is the successful prompt–to turn an LED on/off with 2 separate buttons.

Here is the code for this operation:

const int buttonOn = 2;
const int buttonOff = 3;
const int ledPin = 13;

void setup() {
  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(buttonOn, INPUT);
  pinMode(buttonOff, INPUT);


  // put your setup code here, to run once:


void loop() {   
  if (digitalRead(buttonOn) == LOW) {
    digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW); 
  if (digitalRead(buttonOff) == LOW){
    digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);