Stitching with Electroluminescent (EL) Wire


So, you may remember my EL project from a few years ago. I mentioned it on social media and it sounds like a lot of you are interested, so I’ll share what I remember–mostly I remember that it was hard to find things and put it together!

There are a few resources out there that explain what we’re working with here. Basically, you’ll need to find some kind of grid to stitch on (or some people use this on their clothing at raves and whatnot). Then, you’ll need a sound activated EL kit (I’ll list some resources below).

First up, a little basic info from ellumiglow:

What Is EL Wire?
EL Wire is a thin copper wire that is wrapped in a colorful plastic coating. Inside the plastic coating is a copper wire that is dipped in the powder form of the element Phosphor. This is what makes EL Wire glow. Wrapped over the top of the EL Wire are two of the smallest wires you have ever seen. We call them “Angel Hair” wires. They are about the size of a human hair, so the term is pretty fitting.

How do I make EL Wire glow?
EL Wire does not contain its own magical powers, but once you get it up-and-running, you will see that it does create its own magic. EL Wire needs a power source to glow, and for that you have a couple different choices: ready made kits, plugging it into a wall outlet, or hooking it up to a battery pack. EL Wire doesn’t run on a common household power, because it uses a special high frequency alternating current which enables the wire to glow.

You’ll need an EL kit (which includes a battery pack) on Amazon or numerous places. Here’s a good example of what you’re looking for–don’t forget to buy one that responds to sound – is sound activated.

But wait — what are you going to stitch on? I really can’t remember where I found my wooden grid, but you could also pick up some pegboard from a local hardware store. Most larger home centers carry it unfinished and in pre-finished white. Woodgrain and other decorative panels can be found, and you can also buy metal pegboard panels (how cool would that be?). Standard size holes are 1/4″-dia. and spaced in a 1″-on-center grid. That’ll work!

I was going to say you should make sure that the width of the wire will fit in the hole (I had an issue with this), but if you use standard pegboard with quarter-inch holes you should be fine.

So, once you have these materials together, you just need to decide on a simple pattern (at least to start, but someday you can make a big installation with several colors–send me photos!)

An important thing to be aware of as you “stitch” with EL wire: it doesn’t like sharp angles. So, when your brain tells you to tighten the stitches, don’t! In fact, if you make a crease in EL wire, it may cause that crease to lose color on the bent part. 

So proceed with caution. And be sure to tag us on social media (#subversivecrossstitch), I can’t wait to see what you do! Here’s what I did for my mom:

All of our free PDF Cross Stitch Patterns in one place!

If you’re familiar with Subversive Cross Stitch at all you know that we love to create and share free patterns whenever we can. We’re big believers in encouraging everyone to slow down and make something and if our free patterns can be a gateway drug to more stitching in your life you know we’re here for it. You can find every free cross stitch pattern we have ever created right here. That’s over 25 free patterns! Here’s some of what you’ll find there:

Sure the pandemic is starting to slow down and we’re all coming out of our houses more now. But do we really need to? Seems like staying home may still be the best strategy and this pattern feels timeless. Just relax and home and don’t answer the door!

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an icon and a legend and we’re still not over the fact that she’s gone. This RBG cross stitch pattern pays tribute to this amazing woman who spent her lifetime fighting the good fight for all of us. A sweet reminder.

Another woman we tend to celebrate a lot around here is Amy Sedaris. If you haven’t watched her latest show At Home with Amy Sedaris what are you waiting for? She’s a comedy genius and Ronnie Vino is one of our favorite characters on the show. Here’s a clip so you can see for yourself why we had to make a Ronnie Vino cross stitch pattern. BONUS: Amy herself accepted our offer of the finished piece and it now resides in her home with her rabbits!

You’ll also find free font patterns, an optical illusion snake pattern, and as always some fun snarky reminders.

Go get ’em!