Creating Stylish Conductive Fabric*





Introduction: Creating Stylish Conductive Fabric*

Conductive fabric is a fabulous product for eTextile design, but it is not always aesthetically pleasing.
This is a method of creating your own conductive fabric from fusible fibers that will compliment your design project.

I was sent some thread samples that were unable to be used in a sewing machine or by hand sewing.  The samples also has a resistance that was to high to be useful for eTextiles.  So, I made a new eTextile fabric that solves a design problem I was having while using up supplies in my studio.

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Step 1: Parts

conductive fibers - I used Shieldex 235/34 that came with my thread samples.
Angelina Fibers

Step 2: Layer #1

Place a piece of paper on surface you can iron on.
Spread a thin layer of Angelina Fibers on the paper.
'Shred' your conductive thread into fibers - I used 10 strands 15" long.
Place conductive fibers on top of the Angelina Fibers.
Place another layer of Angelina Fibers on top of the conductive fibers.

Step 3: Repeat

Repeat layers until you have the fabric and conductivity that you require for your project.

For this example I used four layers of conductive fiber and five layers of Angelina Fiber.
Each layer is 10 15" strands.

Step 4: Fuse the Fabric

Place another piece of paper on top of your fibers.
With a warm iron fuse the fibers together.
Keep the iron moving.
Flip the paper and iron from the other side.
Once cooled, peel the paper from the fibers.

Step 5: Testing, Testing 1,2,3

Test the fabric with a multimeter.

For my examples:
Conductive stainless steel thread on its own: 4 ohms.
The same stainless steel thread preserved as single strands in the Angelina Fibers: 5 ohms.
Fiberous conductive thread taught and loose: 145 ohms and 250 ohms respectively.
Fiberous conductive thread fused with Angelina Fibers: 5 ohms.

Step 6: Creating the Look and Resistance You Desire

It is possible to vary the amount of non-conductive fibers with conductive fibers resulting in one side of the fabric being conductive and the other non-conductive.



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    17 Discussions

     non-woven = how about wool felt? ... handmade, that is ... 

    In much the same way as you made your sample with the angelina, you could alternate various thin layers of wool/ angelina/ conductive fibres.  The felting process would bind all the fibres together, and with thin layers the contacts would be maintained.  

    Although to create a wearable fabric there would be a 20-30% shrinkage factor, and maybe some textural/ dimensional change, would this be a problem or an added benefit?

    2 replies

    sweet spiralfelt welcome to I'bles!

    heatbondable angelina fibers only bond to each other.  this is why its important to have conductive fibers dispersed thru the angelina fibers.  So all the layers mesh together.

    there are also non-bondable angelina fibers that could be added to the felting process to make a sparkly conductive wool felt. 

    a similar project is already in the works so please stay tuned.

     Ahh!  interesting ... I've made sparkly [not sparky] felt, but didn't know there were 2 kinds of angelina fibres.  Will read the labels more closely next time.

    So would incorporating heat-bondable angelina + conductive fibres in felt, then ironing the finished felt using an Elnapress work, or does the heat have to be really high [as for burnout]?

    will certainly stay tuned for your felt project.

    I am in search of other heat-bondable  and non-woven fibers that will be more durable, yet still fashionable. 

    Any ideas please???

    3 replies

    Uh...  Plastic bags?
    Emergency blankets?

    I think I got the "heat-bondable" material list, but the "non-woven fibers" and "fashionable" material lists need work...

    What about those iron on patches that people use to patch up holes in jeans?  Maybe looking into those might help.

    From a non-crafter point of view, they look like they have a layer of heat-bondable plastic on denim (or is it a kind of plastic fabric?)...  You could maybe get a similar effect by fusing plastic bags to denim (is that even possible?)...

    Good try robotguy!  Plastic bags fuse to plastic bags not other materials.  You can sandwich a material in between layers of plastic bags, but the material does not stick to the the bags.

    The material on the back of the appliques can be purchased in stores its referred to as fusible web.  You can see my Instuctable on fused electricall circuits for more information.

    Oooo, conductive!  And shiny!  What more could you want?

    Does this new fabric hold up to being sewn on a sewing machine?  Does it need to be treated differently in any way?

    7 replies

    In the intro it says:
    "'Getting creative with conductive thread samples that are useless for sewing'"

    Ah, so it does, but then the goal should be to make them useful!  This instructable does just that.  Hopefully, by somehow attaching it to a stronger backer fabric, it can be useful after all.

    Who, me?  ;)  Maybe if I think of something cool to make with it...  Hmmm...

    When life gives you lemons make lemon aide!

    Yes, I was sent some thread samples that were unable to be used in a sewing machine or by hand sewing.  The samples also has a resistance that was to high to be useful for eTextiles. 

    So, I made a new eTextile fabric that solves a design problem I was having while using up supplies in my studio.

    This sample is created with Angelina Fibers, therefore it is much more fragile than an everyday fabric.  I have used Angelina FIbers to create three wearable art pieces. They are fragile, but are still in great shape after multiple fittings and runway shows.

    1950's Poof
    Mrs. Mary Atkins-Holl
    Samauri Angel

    Yes, you can make the conductive fabric and then sew it to another piece of fabric.  I have not tried glue....yet.

    I believe you could use this method as everyday wear in small amounts, say for a switch or accent on an eTextile garment.