So I needed a wiring harness for a dress

One of these days, I’m going to take a long enough break to actually get caught up on projects and sharing them. Coming soon, what happens when Jae finds a smoking deal on 8-9oz double shoulders and asks the question ‘can a Glowforge cleanly cut leather that thick?’ (Spoiler, it can!)

In the mean time, I wanted to dig into the backlog of ‘quick’ projects I’ve been working on to share some fun ones.

I’ve been working on a head to toe set of steampunk accessories that I had no idea would turn into the perfect coronavirus conference call accessories (who knew we’d need head and shoulders fashion accessories?) and this harness was intended to go with a few other pieces I’d already built…

I swear, I had no idea what was coming when I started working on this for my friendly neighborhood alternative model… but you can see how the harness fits in with the rest of the theme…

(And tragedy, the mask was lost in a luggage handling incident coming back from a shoot in Florida what feels like a lifetime ago but was really only three weeks ago. The goggles made it back though!)

Anyway, the harness pattern is a fun and super quick project, no sewing, just a bunch of rivets. So, when the annual Glowforge winter party rolled around at the end of February with a theme of “Let it Glow” … I just couldn’t help myself.

So, armed with dim memories of high school electronics and a strong desire to not dust off my soldering skills, I dropped myself down the rabbit hole of “what kind of wearable fun things could I put together?”

Have I mentioned that I’m a big fan of Adafruit and their amazing library of project tutorials? Because I’m a really big fan. And there were lots of really good tutorials… which gave me lots and lots of options… and… rabbit hole.

I finally settled on an idea, and managed to get both a dress ordered and all of the requisite parts, and everything even arrived on time! If, by on time, you can call the day before the party “on time.” No problem! I figured… how hard could this be? Six hours is plenty of time to put it all together, right?

Time to cheat and take short cuts. I was already cheating with a dress that came with built in D-rings, just to make routing the lighting easy. I just needed something that I could secure it all to and handle the splitter from the power supply. You know… basic wiring harness. If only I had a pattern for a harness :wink:

Six hours to cut, sand, bevel, oil, dye, finish, and assemble… Oh, and the lighting… yeah, out of the box, looked like this:

Which, you know, is fine for lots of things… but not so much with a black dress. But that’s okay! I had plenty of electrical tape. Except… I didn’t. What I had plenty of was Gorilla tape and the two really aren’t interchangeable (or maybe they are, but I didn’t feel like trying and finding out I was wrong.)

So, cut, sand, bevel, oil… run to Fred Meyer while the oil dries, dye, wrap lighting in electrical tape while the dye dries, finish, do more assembly while the finish dries…

I started at 6:00 in the evening the night before the party. I told myself that I’d stop at midnight and I’d either be done or I wouldn’t, but either way, I was going to bed. I even finished a few minutes early, enough time to try it all on… and have a rivet pop off. Because, of course. Last rivet hammered firmly back in place at 11:59.

And the completed dress?

It was a lot of fun… though it was a bit too blindingly bright for the party. Oops! Still, it was a lot of fun to put together.

Electrical goodies

So, for anyone feeling inspired to take on a similar lighting project, the parts list on this is wicked easy:

Lights -

Barrel Jack screw connector - (remember, no soldering!)

AA battery power supply -


That’s it. Really straight forward, easy to put together. I opted for the flexible silicone LED strip over EL-Wire or EL-Tape mostly because I didn’t want to deal with the humming / buzzing that can go along with those on something I was going to be wearing.

Adafruit does make an RGB version of the lighting but that would have meant a microcontroller and more work than I was up for on the tight timeline my procrastinating and indecision left me with.

Now I feel like I just need to find a cyber goth rave on a Zoom call to put the lighting to more use… after all, I still have last year’s mask and goggles, and those actually match the dress!

Stay safe our there everyone, and happy quarantine projecting!


Wow. You really lit up the scene. Thank you for sharing your process and amazing dress and accessories.


Amazing project, and that neon LED strip is very intriguing. I’m trying to think of a project to use it for.


That’s some outstanding work - and you literally lit up the party!


The goggles are so cool!


Love those goggles, too! Would be fun to walk around the house in those while in containment. Nice work!


Argh, your work is always SO beautiful and makes me want to do a lot more leather stuff, but I’m still working up my courage to do more than random dog harnesses and mini-wallets. Someday…!


Ooooo… I like that. I’ve done a bunch of stuff with el-wire but even their high-intensity stuff isn’t super for daylight use. This would be great for theater productions under the big lights. Thanks for a reminder to keep checking out adafruit to see what’s new!


Really cool! I’m interested in your settings for cutting through leather that thick. Would you mind sharing?


All the protects turned out awesome, I was researching into some similar lighting in the past and came across these. Was thinking it might be something you would find interesting if you have not seen them before. you can even have 2 drivers on the same cable and it makes a cool fading transition in the middle.


You were in Florida and did not say hi to your Florida fans :frowning: Fantastic stuff as usual.


Some fantastic work! The goggles are really awesome!


Yes!!! So true!!! I learned the value of clear nail polish with their tutorials. Before then I always just used heat shrink if fabric is involved. If fabric was not involved then soldering. But clear nail polish was one of those key nuggets of knowledge from Adafruit :slight_smile:

I for sure am going to look into the flexible silicone strip. Its nice to see that it looks to be flexible yet stable.