Our wearable tech assistant Rachael Yeung made her very own wearable tech self lighting bag!  Here’s how she combined fashion with tech and made it practical!

Solving my problem of rummaging around in my handbag


The days of rummaging through your bag could be long gone!

For us women, we all understand the frustrating feeling of looking for things inside our handbags but can never find them!  Especially bags that are deep so finding keys, lipsticks, pens or our phones is a nightmare! Until I discovered how to make my very own self lighting bag.  A self lighting bag is a bag that lights up inside when you open it so you can see what you’re looking for in seconds!

How to make your own self lighting bag

I followed the instructions by Becky Stern on the Adafruit website here.  While Adafruit provides all the materials on their US website, we purchased the items from the UK distributors such as Kitronik and Makersify.

The total cost of all the materials including the bag was £50.23.

Troubleshooting with the tech…

I am familiar with sewing with a needle and thread with my textiles background but with no background in tech, electronics and coding, I was apprehensive.  The LED lights were also a challenge because they had to be sewn a particular way and connecting them to the right pins in the Gemma was a bit tricky.

The Arduino Gemma is a microcontroller board made by Adafruit based on the ATtiny85. It has 3 digital input/output pins ( 2 can be used as PWM outputs and 1 as analog input), an 8 MHz resonator, a micro USB connection, a JST connector for a 3.7V battery and a reset button.  In plain English, it is a little board that is the brain of your wearable. You can program the “brain” by entering code to tell it to do certain things.  We programmed it to turn the LED lights on we opened the bag and for the LED lights to turn off when we closed the bag. We were able to break the circuit using conductive velcro to turn the LED light on and off.


The stitching was the easy bit!

Once I connected the GEMMA board to my computer I couldn’t quite figure out what steps I was missing when setting up the Arduino program, because I kept getting the error code ‘USB not found’. Thankfully we enlisted some help from our friend Koen, a software programming expert and it turns out I only missed a step to switch the programmer option to ‘USBtinyISP’ and it worked! Other than that, using conductive thread to build my circuit was perfect!

Despite my apprehension of making and programming my own wearable technology accessory, I was so surprised at how easy it ended up being!  It is also such a rewarding feeling and being able to use it afterwards and show it off is the best!

The lights illuminate the interiors when you open the conductive velcro closure.

I’ve had many ice breaker conversations when using the bag, and it helps people understand what I do in wearable technology instead of just using the Apple watch as an example. I’ve had many compliments and interest off my friends claiming they need one too!

So you can use technology to help you solve a problem while also looking fashionable and feeling proud that you can learn how to build a circuit, program a wearable and wear it without looking too techie!


Looking stylish with wearable tech!

Read my blog on the Apple watch here.

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This blog was written by Rachael Yeung our Wearable Tech Assistant at MadeWithGlove. Rachael is a tech enthusiast and blogger on Wearable Tech Fashion. With a background in textiles and fashion, Rachael is making some great WTF products for us at MadeWithGlove.

Follow us on Twitter @MadeWithGlove or @RachaelYeung21