Fashioning Technology book excerpt: Sewing Soft Circuits

Craft & Design Technology
Fashioning Technology book excerpt: Sewing Soft Circuits

Fashioning Technology Cover

We’ve just posted a PDF excerpt from our first Craft book, Syuzi Pakhchyan’s Fashioning Technology. The book covers everything you need to know to get started making wearable electronics, smart toys, furniture, and home decor. It’s a very cool book that gives you the skills and inspiration to make some amazing things. Here’s a taste of the Sewing Soft Circuits section (there’s much more in the PDF):

Electronic textiles are dramatically redefining the way circuits look and feel. The increasing availability of raw conductive materials such as inks, threads, and textiles opens a new world of possibilities to experiment with, to better help you craft electronics into fabric. Circuits can now be hand- or machine-sewn, woven, embroidered, inked, or knit; they can be lightweight, flexible, and even three-dimensional. But don’t throw your etchant solution and copper boards away quite yet, as it is difficult and time-consuming to sew complex circuitry by hand. For most projects, you will want to combine traditional printed circuit boards (PCBs) with soft circuits, controls, and switches. The following section introduces basic techniques on how to integrate electronics into textiles to get you started experimenting with soft circuits.

Conductive threads and textiles come with varying surface resistivity. Surface resistivity, typically measured in ohms per square, is the resistance of a material to the flow of electric current between opposite sides of its surface. In materials with low electrical resistance, electrons easily flow through or across the surface of the material. Generally, you will want to work with threads and textiles with low surface resistivity.

NOTE: There is a variety of conductive threads and textiles on the market that isn’t very conductive, meaning that they have high surface resistivity. Before purchasing any conductive thread or textile, it is important to check the product’s specifications to determine its surface resistivity.

Follow this link to download a PDF with a longer excerpt from Fashioning Technology’s Sewing Soft Circuits technical primer, including these sections:

  • Bookbinder’s Knot
  • Sewing by Machine
  • Sewing Components with Long Leads (LEDs, Resistors, and Capacitors)
  • Sewing Integrated Circuit (IC) Chips
  • Sewing Components with Wires


Buy Fashioning Technology by Syuzi Pakhchyan in the Maker Shed today!

This book demonstrates how to blend sewing and assembly techniques with traditional electronics to assemble simple circuits using conductive thread, solder joints for snaps, and switches for buttons. With the sewing machine as a viable substitute for the soldering iron, you can craft a new generation of objects that are interactive, quirky, and fashion-conscious.

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I'm a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I'm not tinkering, I'm probably editing a book for Maker Media.

View more articles by Brian Jepson


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