Combine a battery and LED light with conductive thread to make a basic sewable soft circuit on felt.
GATHER MATERIALS: (Vendors – Sparkfun, Adafruit, Amazon)
- LED lights with resistors
- battery (3 volt CR2032 coin size)
- conductive thread (stainless steel thread)
- round-nose pliers (to coil ends of LED resistors)
- sewing needle (self-threading needles work best)
- felt fabric
- assorted sewing notions (fabric pencils, buttons, scrap fabric, sequins, regular sewing thread, etc.)
PART ONE – PLAN THE BASIC SOFT CIRCUIT:
- Draw on paper to plan your design. Indicate placement for the battery and LED light and where the conductive thread will connect the components.
- Remember you will use one piece of conductive thread to connect “+” sides and a separate piece to connect “-” sides.
- Do not cross the positive and negative lines of conductive thread.
- Consider how you can use regular thread to complete non-conductive aspects of your design.
- Lay out your materials.
- Test batteries and LED light to ensure they work.
THINK ABOUT: How can the design use as little conductive thread as possible and still maintain a balance of conductivity and aesthetics?
PART TWO – MAKE THE FABRIC BATTERY POUCH: (There are sewable battery holders that you can purchase, but they are often too expensive to use with large groups.)
- Cut two squares of fabric (slightly larger than battery).
- Sew a small circle of conductive thread in center of each square (about ¼ or ½ size of battery).
- Use regular thread to stitch three sides of squares into a pouch (leaving one side open for access).
- Test to make sure battery fits. Make sure battery is accessible for replacement. Used batteries cannot be thrown in regular trash and must be disposed of properly.
THINK ABOUT: How much conductive thread is needed to ensure maximum power from the battery pouch?
PART THREE – SEW THE BASIC CIRCUIT:
- Mark the longer “+” lead of the LED light(s) with Sharpie marker.
- Coil resistor ends of LED light(s) into sewable circles.
- Sew components onto fabric. Remember to use separate pieces of conductive thread for “+” and “-” connections.
- Secure ends with hot glue.
THINK ABOUT: How can you insulate the conductive thread without compromising the aesthetics of the design?
- How can you create an on/off switch to save the battery power?
- How many LEDs can you power with one battery? What other types of circuit designs can you use to power more than one component?
- How can you use more fabric and conductive thread to create a switch that turns the circuit on and off?
- What other conductive materials can you use to make the sewable circuit interactive?