Introduction: Soft IPhone and IPad Stylus

Picture of Soft IPhone and IPad Stylus

A few of us at Teague Labs have been experimenting with conductive foams and fabrics in search of an iPhone/iPad stylus that's somewhere between the intriguing hard foil sticks and wet q-tips on Instructables. 

Fortunately, it's quite easy to make a soft, conductive writing tool using some pretty basic materials.  All you need is a pencil, an anti-static sock, and some patience to cut and sew it all together.

Step 1: Gather the Materials

Picture of Gather the Materials

For this project you'll need:

1. A pencil or pen (the non-pointy side is the side you'll be drawing with on your touchscreen).
2. An anti-static sock (such as this one, with X-Static in the foot area which contains conductive silver thread).
3. Scissors to cut the sock.
4. Needle and thread to stitch it together.

Step 2: Cutting the Sock

Picture of Cutting the Sock

Cut the sock into a rectangle slightly larger than what is needed to wrap around the pencil.  Leave room for stitching, but the more excess material you have, the larger the overall size of your stylus will be.

Step 3: Stitch It Up

Picture of Stitch It Up

Start by sewing a small flap over one end (see first picture).  This will serve as a pocket for inserting and removing the pencil later.  You can use a sewing machine, but it only took about 5 minutes by hand, so I recommend getting out your mini sewing kit and giving it a try.

Next, (see second picture) cut the rectangular section of anti-static sock material to be slightly shorter than the pencil's length.  Then stretch the sock to so that it cover the pencil's entire length and hook it on the pencil's tip (this makes sewing it easier since the material is stretchy).

Finally (see third picture) sew up the rest of the sock alongside the pencil, leaving a gap between the two sewn sections so you can easily take the pencil out.

Step 4: Invert the Stylus Sock

Picture of Invert the Stylus Sock

Once you're done sewing up the anti-static sock around the pencil, carefully remove the pencil and use it to invert the sock.  Go slowly since it's easy to break a stitch if you sewed close to the edge of the material.

We found that pushing the sock with the pencil to invert it was much easier than trying to pull the material inside out.  If it's difficult, just be patient and try pushing and pulling on other parts of the fabric.

Step 5: Use It on Your IPhone or IPad!

Picture of Use It on Your IPhone or IPad!

Now place the pencil back into the stylus sock (with the eraser-end pointed toward the writing end -- the pointy side is too small to be reliable since the iphone/ipad expects the touch point to be about the size of a fingertip). 

That's all there is to it; give it a try and see what you think. 

We found that it works best for applications that lend them selves nicely to writing and drawing tools (such as sketching and note taking). Enjoy!


nobhasorn (author)2016-09-06
randomhat (author)2010-08-26

Try wrapping & taping a strip of mylar from a candybar wrapper! It works for me. It's light enough that it won't look or feel to fugly, but easy enough to work with, get and soft enough(unlike that other instructable that uses -tinfoil-) to not really damage the screen. I got my iPod Touch to respond really well even with that little flap on the end hanging off!

LizWhovian (author)randomhat2016-01-31

Thank you so much! I didn't have any fancy foam and this worked perfectly!

tommym12 (author)2012-02-08

The flatter end of an AAA battery works too. Just don't scratch anything :)

wotot2 (author)2010-04-19

Also, a wet baby carrot works. Just thought i'd throw that out there.

2H (author)wotot22011-10-30

Thankyou. The best laugh I had all day. :-)

Jack Canavan (author)wotot22010-06-13

Hah cool :D

Caleb Nehrbass (author)2011-10-29

I made a really good one that uses foam and works really well!

Santa22 (author)2011-05-16

This looks pretty cool and I should use it for my iPad2 because we are allowed to use them at school and this would be a great thing to have for a much lower cost then the stylus at apple

Junkyard John (author)2010-04-09

So would a piece of metal work too? or is there something about the nature of the thread?

I have tried this, pieces of metal do work on touch sensitive screens... as long as you touch them

hanelyp (author)DrCoolSanta2011-04-17

I've found contact area is important for capacitive touch screens and pads. Hard metal pen tips don't work on the devices I've tried unless the tip has a flat on the screen. Also, hard metal presents a scratch risk if it has any sharp edges. A soft conductive tip that can conform to the surface works better.

PrintOutlet (author)2010-12-16

This is very creative solution. Is it possible to use Palm Pilot stylus?

michaelgohjs (author)2010-09-19

oh and mine works on laptop touchpads too.. but its abit clumsy for laptops

michaelgohjs (author)2010-09-19

here have a look at my stylus
i use an antenna and some foil for condctive part

Seleziona (author)2010-04-09

I just wish I could know if my socks had that stuff...

In China, I have seen in the BBS

BenneyBoy444 (author)2010-04-16

 Do you think this Stylus would work on a laptop touch-pad? I've been trying to make one recently - out of blue tac (I didn't realise it had to be slightly conductive then) :D  

mason0190 (author)BenneyBoy4442010-07-15

if yo want a touch laptop, get an ipad

BenneyBoy444 (author)mason01902010-07-15

Lolz, no thanks. I don't think I will ever have enough money to buy one. And anyways, I just wanted it to use with Photoshop . . .

mason0190 (author)2010-07-15

you could also use a tiny drill in the middle of a DS stylus and fill it with solder!

angellicktrooper (author)2010-04-17

i am only commenting because it kinda looks like a joint ^^

still i own multiple iphones and to be honest i never have had the feeling i need a stylus


some people with disabilities would prefer to be able to use a stylus. Cause iphones/ipad doesn't have stylus support these devices are pretty much useless to these people

mason0190 (author)mickabyrne2010-07-15

cn i have an iphone???

yea ok in that way i agree it can be handy for people like that thx for correcting me dude ^^

daltonx00 (author)2010-04-28

It kinda didnt work for me could u mail me one??

ItsTheHobbs (author)daltonx002010-05-24

Make sure you are using anti-static socks.

3xpl0dingR4pt0r (author)2010-04-27

I literally have the exact same socks. The X-Static ones, and they are so comfy! I dont want to cut them up! 

StarLine (author)2010-04-15

I am not against it or anything,
but I heard from news that Koreans' are using hot-dog sausages as a stylus, during winter, so as no need to take off their gloves.

mweston (author)StarLine2010-04-16

Ha, Lifehacker had an article on that a while ago. I'd expect to get a few odd looks, but its still a creative solution!

Here's the link: The Snack Sausage as iPhone/Touchscreen Stylus

hellvig (author)2010-04-15

A wet (but not dripping wet!) q-tip also works, and you do not need any tin-foil!
What you need to do, though, is to wrap it tightly with some extra cotton, to make it about double the original thickness (still much less thick than a finger).
Also, wrap it all the way up to the place where you are going to hold it - apparently it needs (wet) contact with your fingers to work on the screen!

casvandegoor (author)2010-04-14

 Thanks! This is where I've been looking for.

godofal (author)2010-04-09

wouldnt this be inacurate?
normal stylus' go tip-wise, this looks like its to big to be really precise.

i think this is a true Ipad stylus XD

sciencefun (author)godofal2010-04-13

It has to be the size of a fingertip since that is what the iphone and ipad are built for...  :)

godofal (author)sciencefun2010-04-13


domestic_engineer (author)2010-04-13

very clever, but I was kinda hoping it would be an amputated finger :)

matrix43547 (author)2010-04-10

are most socks "anti-static", or how do I know if I have a sock that will work?

seabananers (author)2010-04-10

i am gonna make one right now for my sister i had an ipod but it broke :( so i got psp :)

Teensy Doodles (author)2010-04-09

This is cool.

kira86 (author)2010-04-09

this sounds great, but wouldnt a blending stump work well too? don't quote me though cause i dont have anything touch sensitive..   :'(     yours may be better though cause its got that anti-static sock material.

Jobee (author)2010-04-09

Fast, simple, and uses easy-to obtain materials! Good Instructable!

About This Instructable




Bio: Background in Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, Robotics, and Tangible Interfaces from MIT. Currently working at Fiddlewax to create new musical instruments. Other projects I've ... More »
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