LED Project: Making a Light Up Pizza
In this tutorial we’ll make a light up pizza. You can use this pizza as a wearable tech pin, as home decor, or add it on to a greeting card or wrapping for a unique gift.
The technique here can be used to make any shape out of felt or fabric: it doesn’t have to be a pizza.
In this tutorial we will use soft circuits that do not require soldering. The coin cell battery does not generate a lot of current, so this a safe project for someone new to electronics.
This tutorial uses LEDs that have be modified to be sewable. You can see the tutorial here. You can also take a look at my Introduction to LEDs or Introduction to Batteries first.
For this project you will need colored felt: brown, yellow and red to make a pizza. You will also need a coin cell battery, three red LEDs, and condutive thread. You can also use a battery holder or a pin backing as optional. You will also need scissors, small pliers, sewing needles, and glue. A glue gun is best, but fabric glue will also work.
To start, draw a triangle with a curved edge – a pizza slice shape – on to the yellow felt. Fold over the felt so that it’s doubled over to cut two shapes at once. Cut out the shapes with scissors.
Next, take a piece of brown felt and cut the crust shape.
Fold the red felt into three and cut your circles. These will be your pepperoni slices. You can also add any other toppings that you’d like (I’m a pepperoni purist). Check your arrangement to make sure that everything looks right.
Next, you’re going to prep your LEDs to make them sewable. I have a tutorial on how to do this here. Essentialy you’ll be bending the pins and rolling them into spirals to allow them to be threaded. Do this with all three LEDs.
Cut a small hole in the center of each pepperoni piece for the LED to poke through. Arrange the red pieces on your slice and mark in the center of the hole with a pen. Next, cut small holes in the place you marked on the pizza.
Check to make sure the holes line up properly. Glue the pepperoni slices to the felt, being careful not to fill in the hole with glue. We won’t be gluing in the LEDs yet.
Now we will be building our soft circuit. Start by threading two needles with conductive thread. Tie the ends of each thread to the LED securely.
Thread the needle through the other two LEDs, making sure the LEDs are lined up the correct way (learn more about this in my intro to LEDs). You can do this on the pizza or put the pizza aside for now.
Make one loop with the thread in each looped pin of the LED: you want to make sure it is secure, but that you can still adjust the thread length later.
Test your circuit with a coin cell battery to make sure everything is working. If it is not lighting up, common problems can be LEDs positioned the wrong way, or the thread overlapping and short circuiting itself.
Now that the circuit is done, you can position the LEDs back in the pizza. Arrange the threads so that there are no crossed wires. Now you can tighten the threads to the correct length between LEDs.
Use your glue to hold the LEDs in place. You can also use small dabs of glue to keep the thread down.
Take the second yellow piece that you made earlier. You may need to trim it down slightly so that it doesn’t show in the front. Position it over the circuits, and thread the ends of the conductive thread through neatly and without crossing each other.
Here’s where you choose can use a battery holder, or make your own. If you’re newer to working with coin cell batteries, a battery holder is the easiest solution.
Attach the ends of the wires to your battery holder, and glue down the holder in place. Test to make sure that everything is working.
The final step is to glue on your crust. You can also add a pin backing or a hair clip to make this an accessory.
Enjoy your light up pizza!
Related Tutorials and Projects
An overview of different types of LED lighting for wearable tech projects.
Learn how to make a standard two-prong LED sewable for wearable tech.