Introduction: E-Textiles


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Step 1: Fluffy Textiles

I am going to show you how to make a switch operated, light up, stick on badge/broach. When initially creating this product, I was designing for the end user being a performer; someone who wants to enhance the light display at a concert.

What you will need:

Sewable LEDs x 4 (Red - Kitronik)

Conductive Thread (Kitronik)



Fabric (I used cotton)

A Design / Drawing

Sewable Battery Pack (Kitronik)

Coin Cell Battery

Igloo Programmable Board (Kitronik, with Programming USB Lead and Picaxe Software)

Sewable On/Off Switch (Kitronik)

Sewing Machine


Step 2: Transferring Image and Planning Light Configuration

Firstly you are going to need to print out your image or design and transfer it onto the fabric. As I have a light grey fabric, I have been able to draw onto the material with a biro, with darker fabrics a metallic pen or pencil could work.

You will need to do this twice, as per photo. This will be explained later.

Planning the Light Configuration will change depending on your design. Please use the photo as reference.


Try not to cross the thread as this could short-circuit and the product would not work.

Step 3: Using Picaxe to Programme Igloo

For my product, I decided to have the lights turn on in sequence to add to the dramatic effect; this may not apply to your idea, however, there are still different ways to change how/when the lights come on.

There are many guides on how to use the Picaxe Software; I advise looking online to explore ideas.

Please see my script for sequencing reference, as per photo.

As you can see from the photo that i have not attached my lights in numerical order. I would recommend making a note of which lights to have attached to which port to avoid confusion.

Step 4: Sewing It in Components

This is the most time consuming part of this project. You are going to need all of the components, the needle and the conductive thread.

I recommend trying to draw the circuit onto the material, however be careful to make sure the ink doesn't run onto the other side of the fabric. This is where you will also need your circuit plan.

To get the bulk to the electronics in first, I sewed in the Igloo board first; it doesn't really matter which way round you sew it, however I recommend putting the battery in after the Igloo, this way you will be able to test if your connections are right. After the battery, I sewed a single LED and then the switch.

Once you know the whole circuit works, it's just a case of adding the extra LEDs.

Step 5: Overlocking

The second to last step is to overlock all of the edges together. This is rather quick and easy to do, however it can be tricky, especially with all the components in the way.

I have overlocked around the bottom and the edges of mine, making a pocket type structure. This is so the battery will be easily replaced if needs be.

As the components can add a lot of weight to the product, I added cardboard to give more structure. Simply draw round the outline of your image/design and cut it out, slide into the opening.


The overlocker will cut the fabric, take your time if you are a novice; if you cut the conductive thread the circuit will not work properly.

Step 6: Adding Flap

One of the last stages is to add a flap to the product, this is to allow access to the battery, if it needs replacing, it is easy to do so.

To do this, you will need to measure the width of your design, and cut a rectangle piece of fabric that will cover the opening.

This rectangle will then need to be overlocked to stop the edges from fraying.

Next, the rectangle needs to be sewn down and partially across the bottom of the product (as per image)

Step 7: Adding Velcro

Finally, and most simply you are going to need something to attach the product to. I did this by buying adhesive velcro. I stuck one part to the product and the other part to a guitar strap.

Depending on what you have designed, you might wish to use a different form of adhesion, however this worked for me.

As an optional extra, you might want to make it easier to operate the switch you have. As I used a slide switch, i thought i should expose the lever to make it easier to use. I did this by simply cutting a small hole in the fabric and sewing it in place to make sure it didn't move.

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    2 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Really cool use of conductive thread!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks :)