LED Messenger Bag

Lights in Action

At Grace Hopper this year, I stumbled on a party hosted by Google/Women Techmakers, working with a local hackerspace. They were handing out fantastic little arduino/wearables starter kits, put together by Adafruit. I’ve always wanted to throw blinky lights on my messenger bag, since I bike with it fairly often, and want to be as obnoxiously visible as possible.



  1. Mark where you want your LEDs to go on your bag. Remember that the buckle might cover the LEDs, depending on placement. (Whoops.)

  2. Mark where you want your Gemma to go on the inside of the bag.

  3. Thread your needle with conductive thread, and connect the components. I started by running the positive and ground lines first, then connected the data lines. A point of caution – remember to not sew continuously for the data line. I had a brainfart, and decided that I didn’t want to tie off between every LED. Derp. I followed this tutorial, but omitted the embroidery hoop since my messenger bag’s fabric was fairly stiff.

  4. With a scrap piece of fabric, sew on a pouch to hold your battery pack in place.

  5. IT’S ALIVE. Use the Neopixel strand test from Adafruit’s arduino library to have your bag go through a bunch of different light effects.


Future Steps

I’m not sure where I want to take this next. I could add a light sensor, so the bag knows to turn on as it gets dark. I could turn it into a turn signal – add 4 LEDs on the other side of the bag, and an RF receiver, so I can use a transmitter on my handlebars.