Craft Zine and Michael Miller Fabrics recently sponsored CRAFT’s Michael Miller Baby Bootie Contest, with the many entries posted in a Flickr group. We were so charmed by these Firefly LED baby booties that we asked the creators to give us a how-to for the project.
Special thanks go out to Craft‘s Natalie Zee Drieu who coordinated this post. She is expecting a baby girl and has shared her favorites in the related items below!
But first, a safety disclaimer:
Babies should wear LED booties with adult supervision only, as small electronic components can be a choking hazard if removed from the booties. You can also glue the LEDs to the fabric for extra hold or use surface mount LED beads and sandwich them between the surface and liner fabrics.
2 yellow LEDs
2 CR2016 (or CR2032) batteries
Click here to download the PDF Pattern for the LED Booties.
1. Download the bootie pattern. Measure the baby’s foot size and reduce or enlarge pattern to fit accordingly. By sewing the two paper pattern pieces together you’ll get a more or less fair view of the booties final dimension. This can take a few attempts, but it is actually a crucial step, so take your time with measurements.
2. Cut the denim pieces after tracing the pattern into the denim’s wrong side. You can leave a mark that will help you distinguish the left from the right bootie once the pieces are all cut. Then, cover the entire outside edges with blanket stitches to prevent the denim from fraying.
3. Sew the two pieces of each bootie together with the wrong side of the denim. You can mark an even margin with a pen to help guide you.
4. Cut a small strip of yellow cotton and tack it to the bootie’s denim edges. Cut it on diagonal direction, as the fabric will stretch in the bias direction.
5. Sew the yellow edge to the denim (try to make the stitches as invisible as possible) and then remove the temporary stitches. Fold the rest of the cotton in. You can also sew it to the denim from inside to make sure it will stay in place.
6. Cut a little piece of elastic and sew it very well to the inner part of the booty. The denim is great for this because the inner stitches won’t be visible from the outside.
7. The firefly wings are basically a double bow (without the loose ends) made with ribbon. Just sew it together with a few stitches and it is now ready to be sewed to the bootie.
8. After sewing the wings to the bootie (on the right side of the bootie), use the same thread to make the embroidery. It’s really simple, so you probably don’t need to trace a drawing first. Just try to make them more or less symmetrical in the two booties.
9. Cut a large stripe of yellow cotton, enough to cover the inner side of the bootie. After tacking it to the denim, sew it with some invisible stitches leaving the front part still to be sewed.
10. The LED (short for light emitting diode) is a semiconductor that emits light when a current flows through. The plus of the battery must be connected to the anode (usually the long leg) and the minus to the cathode (usually the short leg). This makes it clear which way to wire the LED.
LEDs also have what is called a maximum voltage, and you should not apply more voltage to the LED than this value. We’ve used a 3V battery (CR2016 1,6 mm thick), and since most yellow LEDs have a forward voltage around 1.2V to 2.2V, we needed some resistance to reduce it, so we’ve used conductive thread.
11. Put the LED in place and stick the pins inside.
12. From the inner side of the bootie, curve the LED’s edges with a pair of pliers.
13. Now sew the curved edges to the denim with the conductive thread. Make sure you use a different thread for each of the edges and that they don’t touch each other (this would short-circuit the battery). One foot (20 cm) of conductive thread sewed along the base of the bootie is enough. You can pass them through the bootie’s sides.
14. With one of the conductive threads, sew a few stitches (cross stitches, for example) on the back part of the bootie sole. This will work as a “pad.”
15. Cut a little square of yellow cotton to prepare a little pocket for the battery. To make sure the battery stays in place, make the pocket as small as possible. Sew all of the edges to the denim, leaving a small entry for the battery, like a buttonhole. Make another “pad” with the other conductive thread on top of the pocket.
The battery should be placed between the “pad” on the battery pocket and the other “pad” on the base of the bootie, in order to make good contact. Just be careful and make sure both wires only meet at the LED when the battery is in place. If you mixed up the polarities, there’s no harm to the LED; just flip the battery over and it should light up.
16. Cut an insole from the felt using a pattern like the one used to cut the denim, but a bit smaller. Then cover it with the yellow cotton and sew it together. This insole will cover the battery pocket. Glue the half front part of the insole to the bootie. You will need to leave the back half part unglued so you can easily remove or replace the battery.
17. The final result! These aren’t everyday booties, of course, so you might save them to be used on a special occasion. With the battery on, the LED will be lit for around two hours. You can even replace the LED with a small bead.
About the creators: Ana Pires and João Silva were born in the seventies in Oporto, Portugal and they’re currently living in The Hague, The Netherlands. They’re very keen on arts and crafts, though professionally they’ve chosen other areas. Ana is an accountant and she enjoys painting, knitting, embroidering and sewing. João is an engineer and his hobbies include building computers and robots, gardening and biking to work every day.
The items below are curated by Craft‘s Natalie Zee Drieu who is expecting a baby girl!