Introduction: Making a Glove Work With a Touch Screen

You can do this in just a few minutes without a lot of know-how. 

Winter's coming up (if you're in the Northern Hemisphere) and with winter comes cold  weather, and with cold weather comes gloves.  But even in the cold your phone probably still rings.  And while I love my touch screen phone, I hate that I can't use it with gloves on.

There are gloves out there that allow you do use your touch screen, but why buy special gloves when, with just a few stitches you can convert the gloves you already have?

Update: Here's a video that runs you through the steps:

Step 1: What You Need

Picture of What  You Need
Most modern touch screens use "capacitive touchscreen" which you can read about at length here, but in short it means that for a glove to work with a touch screen it needs to complete a circuit with your finger.  So that's what we're going to do by putting some conductive thread between the screen and our finger.

You need to be able to sew a few stitches without killing yourself.

You will need:
  • A glove.
  • A needle.
  • 12" (30cm) of conductive thread. (TIP: If you don't want to buy a whole spool, you can buy a few feet much more affordably from SparkFun,  Adafruit, or Sternalb.  
A warning about conductive thread scammers
Unfortunately there are people on Etsy and eBay selling sparkly thread as "conductive thread". It's not and will not work with this project.  I've purchased from the sellers linked above and can vouch that it's the real stuff.  If you buy it elsewhere be sure that the seller lists conductivity data (ohms per foot or similar).  Also conductive thread is not super sparkly, it has a color and finish more like brushed stainless steel.

What's conductive thread?  This great article over at Fashioning Technology will tell you everything you need to know and where to get some.  And when you get some, you'll find there are tons of interesting things you can do with it.  Just look!

(Thanks to the good people at reMake Lounge for introducing me to conductive thread at the last Instructables Build Night)

That's it, lets get to it!

Step 2: Sew

Picture of Sew

#1 Thread your needle
You don't need a whole lot of thread, just a foot or so.

#2: Sew a few stitches in the finger of your glove.
On the outside try to make the stitches pretty close so it only touches the screen in a smallish area (about 1/4" or 6mm in diameter.)  This will help your finger touches be more accurate.

Tip: Don't make it too small!  The iPhone, for example, will ignore small touch areas.  If it doesn't seem to work very well, try increasing the size of the stitches on the outside.

On the inside of the finger, it's actually good for it to be messy (See #3). 

3-5 stitches should be enough.

#3: Leave some extra inside the glove.
You want to make sure the thread touches your finger or your hand on the inside, so leave some extra.  Leave danging thread on your knots, etc.  You might even tack a bit to the lining of the glove

#4: Repeat on other fingers (optional)
If you use other fingers or thumbs to use your screen repeat the step on them too.

That's it!

Step 3: Use

Go ahead and give it a try!  Put on your glove and see what you can do with your phone.

No, it won't be as accurate as using your bare hands but it is good enough that I was still able to type on the iPhone keyboard without too many errors.  And now I don't have to take off my glove just to answer a call or read an email. 


ClaudiaS39 (author)2016-07-18

I cut a slit on the inside of the glove index finger tip, and when I want to type I slide my finger tip out of the glove.

austinwebdesign (author)2016-04-27

ahhhhh, conductive thread! thanks so much for this

ChristyR9 (author)2016-01-11

I used metallic embroidery thread from Maderia, I'm sure other brands would work, with great success but it was silver, so if color is important you'll need to try another color of metallic thread to see if it works

pmuhammad dwi (author)2015-07-27

can i use copper wire from old headphone? can't get conductive thread on my local shop

ChristyR9 (author)pmuhammad dwi2016-01-11

I was able to use metallic embroidery thread and yes, it DID work!

heather.dodd.94 (author)2015-12-19

Would you happen to know if this works with laptops, (not touch screen) with the "touch pad mouse"? My hands really benefit from wearing certain gloves that help with nerve damage/pain, but I can no longer use that part when wearing them. Granted, there are some gloves without fingertips, but it helps a great deal to have the tips on the gloves.

Thanks!! =^..^=

Best wishes!

Grathio (author)heather.dodd.942015-12-20

It's hard to say. If it uses capacitive touch-sensing then it will probably work. (Most devices that have multitouch are capacitive.)

However it will be much less accurate than bare finger touches. This is intended for when you need to use basic functions of your phone without freezing your hands off.

hellomichael (author)2013-10-02

If you're in Canada, you can check out which sells 10 yards for $10 w/ free shipping anywhere in the world.

jʎɐɹ-ɾ (author)hellomichael2015-09-08

If they ship anywhere, why do you need to be in Canada? ;)

Yonatan24 (author)jʎɐɹ-ɾ2015-12-14

So you can be a genius...

Leggoles (author)2015-12-01

great video, thanks for the info

fourdollarrush (author)2015-07-17

@touchtec Sounds like you're a little bitter... If they managed to get you, the inventor, posting on this site and attacking their product then they must be doing something right haha

I'm gonna try nanotips just because you have a vendetta against their company.

Hopefully you're not right haha. Let you know how it works! :)

TouchTec (author)2015-04-29

If you want your leather gloves to work with a touchscreen device and last, I would recommend using AnyGlove and steer clear of nanotips for several reasons.

1. NT is a nasty smelling, flammable, toxic chemical that is essentially like putting nail polish on your gloves.

3. NT is a coating and will need to be reapplied. It smells strong because it contains solvents. Those solvents will dry out the leather and weaken it, which may lead to cracking or tearing, especially along the finger's seams, effectively reducing the useful life of your glove.

AnyGlove, which is a water based formula, specifically made for leather, can be reapplied and will not harm the leather.

AnyGlove is as close to non-toxic as gets. I wouldn't advise drinking it, but if you did, it may, at worst, give you a bad case of diarrhea. Other than that, it would just flush right through your design.

AnyGlove was approved for use by the DLA for all US Armed Forces for treating combat gloves.

Who am I? The inventor AnyGlove. I am also the inventor of TouchTec, have issued patents worldwide and my technologies are used by some of the largest glove brands/companies in the world.

my_name_jeff (author)2015-03-26

Thats only with apple but with the samsung u can use ur phone with gloves

MakeEVERYTHING (author)2015-01-23

Thanks for the heads up wotai139.

Got my bottle a couple days ago and it works great. Applied it to my leather gloves and snowboarding gloves. Worth checking it out if you're not into threading needles into gloves.

Snellingkorey (author)2015-01-06

I'll send this to my boss, he's always having problems with using his ipad when he has gloves on, thanks

guntemar (author)2012-05-29

This will be a great thing since I use my iPhone as a GPS/Music Player on my motorcycle...I always wear gloves and have to pull over to do anything on the screen..

cmitchell37 (author)guntemar2014-12-07

plz don't tell me ur gonna text and drive on a bike lol

magnawing (author)cmitchell372014-12-07

no...but it means not having to take off gloves at stoplights

cmitchell37 (author)magnawing2014-12-13

its a temp soultion but 1 bottle would last a winter thx for the link.

wotai139 (author)magnawing2014-12-12

Seems way easier and cheaper just to use this stuff I saw on Dragon's Den a few weeks ago:

shruti.nivas.1 (author)2014-12-03

Can we use this instead of buying the conductive yarn?

kcamillus (author)shruti.nivas.12014-12-04

It will work, but scratch up your phone screen after a while

davidbarcomb (author)2014-11-17

Great project specially with the weather today

Gaby7107 (author)2014-04-12

What's better? Thin Conductive yarn or just conductive thread?

Detoxiodine (author)2014-04-07

I can confirm that this also works with Coats Ophir metallized threads, the ones made of 65% Viscose and 35% Metallized Polyester.

And thanks for the instructable!

parisusa (author)2013-11-27

Was recently wondering if this was possible or how. Thank you!

xenobiologista (author)2013-11-14

I just want to point out that you don't have to buy special thread listed as "conductive". Some normal brands of embroidery thread's metallic colours actually do contain enough metal to work for this. E.g. this other instructable used Coats (I also did this with embroidery thread but can't remember what brand I used). An easy way to test this at your local craft and sewing shop is to hold one end of the skein and brush the other end against your phone and see if it responds.

Kelly02 (author)2013-06-20

I was looking for one. Great work.

scarington (author)2013-01-07

Lame Lifesavers ( is a good source for thread, you can get a 10-yard card for $10 CAD shipped anywhere in the world.

Aperture Laboratories (author)2012-07-10

use some arctic silver 5 instead

Atlas Portal 2 (author)2012-04-26

Really good I just wear fingerless glove though

hippydog (author)2012-03-23

Thank you for this instructable. now i dont have to go buy brand new motorbike gloves! :-)

kevinvw (author)2012-01-31

Anyone know how to get an object to trigger an iphone touch screen if the object is not being held by a person?

For example if I wanted to roll a "ball" across the screen and have the screen sense it. But I don't want anything connected to the ball.

well, you could apply thermal grease all over the ball.

cool knex13 (author)2012-01-15

cool did not know that

jgulick (author)2011-12-29

Thanks! I made these gloves for a christmas present for my mom. She loves them!

Bartboy (author)2009-11-25

My ipod works with gloves...?
It's not the conductivity, it's the heat.

cyrozap (author)Bartboy2009-12-02

It is most certainly the conductivity. The iPhone's screen is a capacitive touchscreen, and as it says on Wikipedia, "A capacitive touchscreen panel consists of an insulator such as glass, coated with a transparent conductor such as indium tin oxide (ITO). As the human body is also a conductor, touching the surface of the screen results in a distortion of the local electrostatic field, measurable as a change in capacitance." Laptop trackpads and iPod scroll-wheels work using the same principle, so this glove mod can also be used for those devices.

See here:
And here:
And for the iPhone specifics, see here:

Bartboy (author)cyrozap2009-12-03

A bit late, If you look below you'll see I already know that...

My point is that ipods do not work with cold fingers.

THE_GEEK2007 (author)Bartboy2009-12-03

My iPhone most certainly does work with cold fingers. I'm not sure you are right about this...

Bartboy (author)THE_GEEK20072009-12-03

Ipods I have:
G2 Original (30GB)
G5 Video (30GB)
V1 Touch (32GB)
V2 Touch (32GB)

NONE of them work in the climate here, how cold are you talking?

My Ipod shuffle G1 and G2 Both work, obviously.

Eggbertius (author)Bartboy2009-12-07

 My Touch G1 works fine when my fingers are cold. Here's a specific: -27. Celsius.

Bartboy (author)Eggbertius2009-12-08

Mine stops working before then, about -20 C.

But some of my friends do work, so it might be just mine.

But when it gets really cold, none of them work (The coldest temperature here was below -50 C )

Fieldownage (author)Bartboy2009-12-10

 Noticed the same while living my entire life in Finland. My theory is that when your hands are warm they are rarely very dry, but when they're cold they are more dry than warm hands leading to less conductive hands so maybe when they're cold the touchwheel or touchscreen recognizes them as some kind of "background noice".

mdarnton (author)Fieldownage2011-12-04

My fingers are exceptionally dry most of the time, and my phone often doesn't respond--cold or hot hands, it doesn't matter. I find that licking the tip of my finger is an easy way to get things moving when my phone isn't responding, so I'm supecting you're right. Now that we've moved into winter, my hands are even drier, and licking is working even better.

Fieldownage (author)Fieldownage2009-12-10

 Someone probably said the same before me. Not reading all comments before posting leads to nowhere.

Bartboy (author)Fieldownage2009-12-10

That or warmth=sweat, Sweat=salt, Salt = conductivity

tck1000 (author)Bartboy2010-01-06

Just stick a finger up your nose for a few seconds before you use the ipod touch, or iphone, and you'll be good as gold (no pun intended).

NastySpill (author)tck10002010-01-24

"It's not the heat, its the humidty"

About This Instructable




Bio: Creative swashbuckler. Writer for MAKE Magazine, presenter of inventions on TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. Professional problem solver. Annoyingly curious. Hacker of all things from ... More »
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