Shirt with LEDs

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I would like to make a shirt with LEDs in a very specific
configuration.  I remember having a sweater when I was a kid that had
LEDs on a picture of a Christmas tree.

Is there a sewing shop out there who could put a picture on the shirt/
sweater and then punch some holes in some places?  I'd like the holes
to not fray, so maybe they can sew around the hole like with button

I'm a computer programmer and metal fabricator, so this is all new to
me.  ; )


Re: Shirt with LEDs

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are you familiar with MAKE magazine? the first issue (if i
remember correctly) had an LED shirt.

try to get a back issue through the website.
what type of image are you trying to transfer to the shirt &
what type of fabric is it going to be? the type of fabric will
more or less dictate the best way to do the holes for the

Re: Shirt with LEDs
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I think the circuit would be too heavy for a T-shirt, so the next
option is a sweater.

The image would be of the front panel of an Altair 8800. /


Re: Shirt with LEDs

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 are you going for the whole working circuit, with the
switches, or just an image with blinking lights?
 i'm not sure a sweater would be any more stable if you are
using actual switches. sweater knit is pretty loose &
 is this more or less a one shot item, or are you planning to
wear it a lot? i'm thinking i'd put some infrastructure under
t-shirt material to do this. it's possible to do an image with
lights without too much trouble, but if you want the switches,
i'd have to really think about how i'd do it... that does get
into a bit of weight.

Re: Shirt with LEDs
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It would only be one at first with potential for additional units
later.  This would be somewhat of a novelty thing for a very small
audience of vintage computer enthusiasts.  ; )  I'm accustomed to
paying high prices for one off items...  I wouldn't be using toggle
switches.  I'm still thinking about all of the options.  I appreciate
all of the feedback so far!  All of you have been very helpful!

My original goal was to have a working version of an Altair.  On
second thought it might be just as worth while to make the lights
blink and have the switches in the picture.

Is using an embroidery machine equipped shop still the best option
when only needing LED holes?  I will try to see what I can find about
the MAKE T-Shirt.  I can generate the photo with mechanical locations
in Adobe Illustrator, assuming the embroidery machine can handle
common drafting file formats.

I live in Anchorage Alaska, so I'm not sure we have a lot of shops
like this.  I'm sure there are a few, but just in case, are there any
good continental places?  Someone who could do the holes and image on
a given shirt?


Re: Shirt with LEDs

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ok, without the toggles & with blinking LEDs (which you could
have random or programmed as to order for a bit more work),
i'm pretty sure it wold be doable on a good quality t-shirt, a
heavy weight sweatshirt would be even better though. sweaters
would need additional stabilizing (over what a sweatshirt
would need) & would likely stretch oddly around the edges of
the design.
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on a shirt? that *would* be something, but a wee bit
impractical (or uncomfortable)... how big is that MB?
 i'm not going to say it can't be done, because i think it
can... i just don't think anyone would want to wear something
that heavy/bulky (unless you can somehow reduce the bulk of
the electronics?)
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a machine embroidered picture would both stabilize the shirt
and keep the areas where the holes are for the LEDs from
stretching/tearing. it *will* be rather stiff due to it's
size, but it would be wearable.
 i don't know enough about commercial embroidery machines to
know if they can sew the eyelets (that's the term for the
holes where the LEDs will go), but they can certainly sew
around the area so you can carefully punch the holes open with
an awl.
 i think getting embroidery done as a one-off is expensive,
but i suspect you might have Altair fans that want their own
blinking sweatshirts ;)

Re: Shirt with LEDs

                  Try to find someone in your local area who has an
embroidery machine and who can digitize their own designs. With this
equipment, someone could do what you are asking.



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Re: Shirt with LEDs
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Would many machines accept a DXF/DWG file for hole placement?


Re: Shirt with LEDs
Grant Stockly wrote:
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    Grant, there is photo transfer paper made specifically for putting a
picture on fabric so you could do that part yourself.  There are all
different types of this transfer paper -- some needs to go through a
large commercial copy machine and other types work well on a home
printer.  Once you have the image copied to the transfer paper, you just
iron it on to your fabric or garment.
    I have added lights (made specifically for this purpose) to stuff
with both the copied photo ironed on a sweatshirt and with designs I
painted directly on the shirt.  The lights I have come 10 to a strand
and have a very small watch battery in a little flat box that is
attached with velcro to the inside of the garment.  I have strands of
lights that are all clear and some that are red/green/yellow.  I didn't
bother much about the holes either.  I just used a sewing awl to poke a
small hole in the knit and pushed the light into the hole.  The stuff
the photo is made of (or the paint in the case of painted shirts) kept
the hole from getting too big.  The light are kept in place by use of a
little black "O" ring.
    I bought my lights online from Hobby Lobby's craft site -- -- search for "fashion lights" and the SKU is
299297, cost is $4.99 per set and they are LED lights.  Anyway -- good
luck and I'm sure that once you get the picture of the piece of
equipment on the front of the shirt (I strongly recommend using a
sweatshirt because it will hold the weight of the lights best) you won't
need to worry about the holes needed for the lights.
    Feel free to e-mail me if you need more info about doing this.  I
used to make and sell holiday sweatshirts with the lights and they are
great.  I even have several shirts of my own :-)!  CiaoMeow >^;;^<

PAX, Tia Mary >^;;^<   (RCTQ Queen of Kitties)
Angels can't show their wings on earth but nothing was ever said about
their whiskers!
Visit my Photo albums at

Re: Shirt with LEDs
Tia Mary wrote:
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And there's always "fray check" or clear nail polish to help with any
stray fraying strands.


--Karen D.

Re: Shirt with LEDs
Check out, she shows some designs with the LED
lights.  I think she might have a tutorial on how to use them also.


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