Instructables
Picture of Three Fabric Buttons
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These super simple fabric buttons are soft, fun to push and can come in handy when building various prototypes. They all share the same ground or plus, depending on what you hook what up to.



I am also selling these handmade fabric buttons via Etsy. Although it is much cheaper to make your own, purchasing one will help me support my prototyping and development costs >>
http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5178109'''
 
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
MATERIALS:
- 1.5mm thick neoprene from http://www.sedochemicals.com
- Stretch conductive fabric from http://www.lessemf.com
also see http://cnmat.berkeley.edu/resource/stretch_conductive_fabric
- Fusible interfacing from local fabric store or
also see http://www.shoppellon.com
- Thread
- Pen and paper
(- LEDs and crocodile clips for testing)

TOOLS:
- Sewing needle
- Scissors
- Iron
(- Multimeter)

Step 2: Create a stencil

Picture of Create a stencil
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Following these instructions you will be able to make fabric buttons whatever shape you like and it you don't need to make three, you can make just one or more by following the basic idea.

So for the first step you need to either recreate this stencil by tracing the in- or outside of your sticky tape roll to a strip of paper... or pick another object to trace...

Once you have your stencil, trace it two times onto the neoprene (or you can use any other fabric you want to work with. Felt also works well. And cut things out.

Then trace the stencil one more time onto the foam and cut this piece out slightly (2-3 mm) smaller than the tracing.

Step 3: Fusing conductive fabric

Picture of Fusing conductive fabric
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Fuse your fusible to one side of your conductive fabric and then trace pieces with tabs for each of your buttons and one larger piece with one tab for the common side. See the photos.

Cut these out and then fuse them to your pieces of neoprene. Make sure that none of your button tabs come out in the same place as your common tab. In the next step we will put a piece of perforated foam between these two conductive fabric fused neoprene layers and, when nothing is pushed, none of the individual pieces of conductive fabric should be touching.
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JesusGeek1 year ago
You can use thin gauge wire as a substitute for conductive thread. About 30-26 AWG is good.
JesusGeek1 year ago
The stretch conductive fabric is REALLY PRICY!!! Put duct tape or adhere fabric to the thick heavy duty aluminum foil, don't get the really thin cheap stuff.
nickpagee1 year ago
Thank you SO MUCH for this! I added some mods that will help me on future projects ––> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzC5_cCLkPI
1 – battery to the left so that I don't have to run power to the buttons AND so that this becomes a portable circuit tester

2 – indicator lights on the buttons so that when I'm testing I'll always know if the battery and button fabric connections are sound – it complicated the process as I had to stitch in the negative current throughout the buttons, but it was really quick and I love playing with them.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS!
Plusea (author)  nickpagee1 year ago
thank you for linking to the video! was really nice to see your work.
dhivya21103 years ago
Hi! This i'ble is really cool. I am trying to make the same on my own. Could you please tell me how is the pressure vs voltage calibrated? Is it possible to program the controller without calibrating it? Please help me.. Thanks in advance for any of your advice..
can u press more than one button a a time and it work?
nida223 years ago
can any one tell me that both the fabric is neoprene in which they fuse the conductive fabric
jst two faric are used in tjis project neoprene and conductive fabric plz help me as soon as possible
Plusea (author)  nida223 years ago
neoprene is not necessary in this design. you can use any fabric or material as your base substrate, as it is not a functional part of the button/sensor. fusible interfacing is a fabric glue that comes in sheets and is fused with heat from an iron, you can also use double sided sticky tape or even just stitch your conductive fabric in place with some regular non-conductive thread. instead of conductive fabric contacts you can also use aluminum foil. and even the spacer material can be made from a material other than foam. anything thick enough to keep your two conductive contacts apart when you aren't pushing them together!
nida22 Plusea3 years ago
thank you
now its so easy to make fabric button with simple cotton any (or any other type of fabric ) aluminum foil and and fabric foam and if we use aluminum foil rather than conducting fbric then there may be a little bit problem to stitch aluminum foil or fuse
and if you mention these thing in material part then its very easy for others
super like!!
(its super cute too)
:)
MrHanimi3 years ago
have you considered putting this inside a pea pod case or something of the sort?
also *free idea*
has anyone made a soft game controller for the kind of people who like to throw them at tvs? that would be cool :3
TheoTTFF3 years ago
would it be possible to replace the conductive fabric with tin foil?
ilovetea6 years ago
What about embedding it in the wrist part of a hoodie, in the sleeve, and assign the three buttons to "Back a track", "Play/Pause", Forward a track", for music players (iPods)?
Yea, like a sessions jacket!
So, how do you think one could do that?
I am late to reply on this, but Aniomagic sells a "Magic Dock" for $10 that you can use in soft circuit projects. I just found them online the other day and ordered one to play with: http://www.aniomagic.com/store/index.php?p=1&q=18
you could hack one of the iPod remotes that come with the ear buds that you can order from Apple.
hmm, interesting idea but isnt that for volume only? Im looking for track skip
I have actually done this for the ipod remote, which i now use for when I go snowboarding. I did hack one of those remotes that comes with headphones as weretater mentions. The remote headphone combo cost about $40 and it has volume up/down, skip forward/back and play/pause. I only did it for play/pause and skip forward, although i'm considering also adding skip backward.
Fodaro4 years ago
How thick is your perforated foam, and where did you buy it? I can't find it on your materials list.
Plusea (author)  Fodaro4 years ago
the thinner the better. i like 2-3mm.
i try to get it locally at upholstry stores, but there are lots of online foam stores depending on where you live. lots of different kinds of foam will work. also felt and other squishy packaging materials that you can perforate.

this is one place i've ordered from before, though they don't have very thin sheets.
>> http://www.foambymail.com/PolyFoam.html
Fodaro Plusea4 years ago
Thanks!
connor18684 years ago
where can you buy these, the ines that you make and we buy and how much are they.
Roxy 1434 years ago
Nice
jobxu20004 years ago
Hi plusea!

I'm interested in your fabric button, but cannot find it in your Etsy shop (only Fabric Bend Sensor KIT and Fabric Pressure Sensor/Matrix KIT are there). Will you make one if I order it? Thanks a lot!

Best,

jobxu2000
Plusea (author)  jobxu20004 years ago
I've re-listed it >>
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=19386298
Chimaera5 years ago
Why did you choose neoprene?
Plusea (author)  Chimaera5 years ago
good question. for the buttons (as supposed to the conductive thread pressure and bend sensors) there is no need for the outer fabric to be neoprene. i used it mainly because it is easy to work with in terms of not fraying and no need to finish the edges. it does have a nice squishy feeling feedback to it, but this can also be achieved by the sponge materials that is anyway inside the button. so, really there is no technically necessary reason to work with neoprene here.
Argool5 years ago
This is an intriguing development...
hmm... Neoprene console controller, or even a better DDR dance pad. Hmm... may have to build one.
puffyfluff6 years ago
That would be a great stress reliever! I am going to make one of these, but I might make it five buttons, and put them in a ring so that I can rest my hand on it, it may be a useful control fro a future project.
Or you could put your hand in the ring and rotate so it can tell which way you're turning your hand!
Oh, that would be cool too. I didn't mean a complete ring, I meant like having the five buttons arranged so that I could just keep my fingers on them. That's another good idea, too.
My idea is that you could scroll through a web page or something by turning your wrist. Those thing actually aren't that hard to do.
Oh, I see now, that would be really cool. I'll have to start looking into that.
profiteer6 years ago
I was looking around, and I didn't see if you mentioned where you bought the foam from. Where did you get?
Plusea (author)  profiteer6 years ago
oh yes. i get it from a shop in linz, austria >>
http://www.kaindl-linz.at/

it is a shop that sells curtains and flooring.... and this foam i guess is used for the padding inside seat covers and such. so maybe try finding a local store that sells this kind of stuff. i have not really looked for online suppliers of foam yet.

you can also try felt. it might not be as super soft, but should work.
whiteoakart6 years ago
I love this. It looks like a soybean pod. Since my car runs on soy-based BioDiesel, I need this for my accessory switches.
jackcday6 years ago
that would make an awesome piano/keyboard
that is a great idea!
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