Stitching with Electroluminescent (EL) Wire

Posted by Julie or Chris Jackson on

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:

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