Sewing Conductive Thread in Parallel Lines

sewing-parallel-lines-conductive-thread

[Cynthia] has shared a great video of  machine sewing parallel lines of conductive thread onto ribbon using a cording foot which usually comes standard with most machines. This technique could be particularly useful when using addressable LEDs like a NeoPixel to get the ground, data, and positive lined up fairly accurately. Sewing the conductive thread onto ribbon also makes it a hell of a lot easier to attach to many garments or textiles,  and also makes it easier to replace or reuse.

The method is pretty easy, essentially using the grooves in the cording foot to guide the conductive treads and ensuring even spacing. Two of the lines are sewn down approximately 3 mm apart using a zigzag stitch. The third line is sewn separately making sure the stitching doesn’t break the first two lines. In the video, a striped ribbon is used which has slight troughs that additionally helps the threads stay in place and the sewer to stay on target.

[Cynthia] of Cynthia Designs Studio has been experimenting with embedding electronics in textiles and has quite a few great videos that you can check out on the Cynthia Designs Studio YouTube channel.

We have seen a machine embroidered LED matrix and a hand sewn LED quilt here on Hackaday, but those who have tried know that conductive thread can be very tricky to work with and keep conductivity.  Do you have any tips or tricks for hand or machine sewing conductive thread? If so, please share in the comments below.

[Read more...]

Lighted shoe ruffles — he’ll never step on your toes again

Whether for fashion, emergency lighting, or just to make a statement, these lighted shoe clips make for a unique footwear accessory. [Becky Stern], who we’ve seen before hacking automatic knitting machines, tackles this quick lighted project.

The electronics are simple, two LEDs connected in parallel to a button battery by some conductive thread. The circuit is the same as an LED throwie, but she’s using a sewable battery holder. The ruffle is made by cutting out and folding several circles of fabric. We’re not too used to working with this building material and were glad to hear her tip on fusing the cut edges with a lighter. She’s also got a good tip about bending one LED lead in a square shape and the other in a round shape to keep track of the polarity. After sewing everything together and completing the circuit with the conductive thread [Becky] adds a paper clamp making this easy to use with any shoe. In fact, the guy’s don’t have to miss out on the fun as this could easily double as a boutineer.

Don’t miss [Becky's] complete walk through video embedded after the break.

[Read more...]

Musical shirt from toy keyboard

musical_shirt

[mikamika] has put together a great tutorial on how to build this musical shirt. The whole process is covered, from taking apart the toy keyboard to laying out the circuit and creating the fabric switches.  He used the same method as [plusea] for the fabric buttons and conductive thread for most of the connections. It seems as though he has actually taken [plusea]‘s wearable shirt project and added some polish. His looks good enough, he might even be able to make it through an airport.

Full fabric soft switches

soft_switch

When we created our backpack strap WiFi detector for Engadget, we embedded soft switches to control the device. They used two sheets of aluminum foil separated by a layer of foam with holes punched in it. [Plusea] has taken a similar approach but has replaced the aluminum foil with conductive fabric. The end result is a set of three soft buttons that can be easily washed. Have a look at the video of it in action below. Check out the followup project that uses the buttons to replace a scroll wheel. [Read more...]