How to use EL Wire to Create Light Up Clothing

El Wire Sign

George Claude revealed the very first neon sign at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. Since then, the fluorescent glow has entranced people across generations and the bright lights have become synonymous with good times.

Technology has moved on a bit, though, and you can now wear neon without the need for glass vacuum tubes and special gasses. It’s true! EL wire is a flexible neon look product that bends to any shape.

Even better, you can use EL wire to make amazing Halloween costumes, be the best dressed at a rave, or even just brighten up an outfit (pun fully intended).

Here’s how to use EL wire to take boring clothes into the neon stratosphere!

How to Use EL Wire for Garments in 5 Easy Steps

You want your EL wire garments to be one of a kind – and that means scoping out the competition, first.

There are lots of YouTube videos to give you inspiration for your next neon fashion project. Take a look at what and how people have used flexible illuminated wire to spice up an outfit and costume.

And then… design one even better in these easy steps!

1) Work Out Your Battery Requirements

The great thing about EL wire is the low power consumption. It’s easy to run an entire outfit from a small battery pack. 

You can either buy the components you need for a battery pack separately and solder them together, or purchase a battery pack set that has everything ready-to-go.

2) Pick a Flexible Fabric

You want your neon to look like it’s alive, so choose a flexible fabric such as jersey, cotton, or light denim to make the most of the EL wire qualities.

A rigid fabric won’t flex with the wire in the same way, and you risk breaking it.

3) Calculate the Length of Wire Required

Mockup your costume using string to gain an accurate idea of how much EL wire you’ll need. There’s nothing worse than being just a few inches short at the end of the project!

Cut lengths of string and lay them out on the costume as you’d like the wire to run. Next, add up all of the lengths to work out the total length of wire you need to order.

If you’re using several different neon colors in your outfit, it may help to use different colors of string to keep track of the lengths you’ll need of each type.

4) Fix the Wire to Your Garment

Tape your lengths of wire to your garment to keep them in place. If you want to make your wire more secure, you can sew it on or even use a superglue adhesive.

If you choose to sew your wire, opt for a clear thread or fishing line to make sure the color is left to shine through without any opaque lines from the thread.

You might want to hide your connectors on the inside of your costume. To do this, simply add a small hole to feed the end of the wire through to the back of the garment and attach the connector inside.

5) Add Connectors and Splitters

You need to add connectors to your wire sections and put the other end on the battery pack to complete the circuit.

Snap-on connectors are the easiest to use, and you can even find a five-way splitter to use for multiple colors.

Watch Instructional Videos to Become a Pro

If you need more help on how to use EL wire for your next fashion project or costume, watch this handy instructional video.

When you’ve got a grasp on how to use the wire, it’s time to shop for the components! Build your own kit or select each component separately. Visit the shop for everything you need to make your next EL project!

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