How to Sew an Electronic Circuit




About: Electronic engineer with 25 years experience in textiles. Currently working on interactive fabrics.

This instructable tells you how to create real electronic circuits using a textile perfboard, (a piece of conductive fabric) instead of a rigid perfboard. You will be able to sew resistors, capacitors, LED's, integrated circuits and many other components. This is a list of what you will need:

- textile perfboard (you can find it on
- traditional components (not SMD!) like resistors, capacitors, LED's, IC's
- sewing needle
- sewing thread.  I suggest shrinking sewing thread, you can find it in embroidery shops or on . It is a special sewing thread that shrinks 30% in lenght when exposed to heat.
- pliers
- wire cutter (or nail trimmer)

Step 1: Preparing Discrete Components

Let's start to sew a resistor like the one you see in the picture. The resistor has two straight terminals as shown in the picture. Start by bending both terminals 90° as shown. Bend again both terminals at 90° as shown in the picture. Cut both terminals so that their tip is about  8 mm (0.31") long.

Step 2: Placing Discrete Components on Perfboard

Now place the resistor over the textile perfboard with terminals parallel to the metal perfboard stripes and adjust the distance between the terminals so that they are over the metal stripes of the fabric. Then gently insert both terminals at the same time inside the fabric, parallel to the metal stripes. When doing this you must be careful that terminals remain inside the fabric without coming out on the back of fabric. To obtain this insert terminals parallel to fabric. See pictures and explainations.

Step 3: Sewing Discrete Components

Now you can start sewing using shrinking sewing thread. Sew along the black lines around terminals so that they are tightly wrapped. It is suggested also to sew around the vertical part of the terminals.  Repeat the same steps for the othr terminal and your resistor is sewn and connected!

Step 4: Preparing IC's

If you want to sew IC's first you'll need to check that their legs have a 2.54 mm (0.1") pitch. As an example we will use a 555 timer that has 8 terminals. Proceed by carefully bending 90° with your pliers all terminals on one side at the same time.

Step 5: Placing IC's on Perfboard

Holding the IC with your fingers carefully insert one side in the fabric, taking care that terminal tips remain inside the fabric. Terminal tips must be parallel to metal stripes. Gently pull the fabric and insert the other side, so that, when you release the fabric, the IC is firmly blocked.

Step 6: Sewing IC's

Now you can proceed by sewing all terminals with the same procedure seen for the resistor.  Once finished you should cut out the fabric in between the IC terminals because if not they will be shorted.  If you have any kind of 'Spray Seam' or hairspray apply to the area, so that fabric doesn't fray. Proceed as shown here. With sharp point scissors cut a square/rectangular opening being carefull to completely remove all metal stripes and wires that connect terminals. I suggest to check with a tester that there are not unwanted connections between stripes and across terminals.

Step 7: Ironing

Once you have finished your circuit place your iron on medium/high on the reverse of fabric. The shrinking thread you used for sewing will shrink, thus blocking all components tightly in place. You might also hand wash gently circuits after they are properly sewn. Before doing that check that all components you used are waterproof sealed and let the circuit dry for at least 24 hours before turning it on again. Tumble dryer not tested.



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    10 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    You cannot stop terrorist threats by stopping technology diffusion and scientific research.
    I do believe that the exploitation of these technologies will save more lives (think about portable medical devices) than the number of lives they might eventually put in danger.
    And, thank God, scientific community agrees with these principles.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Ok with keeping with the "NICE" policy I'll put it this way. #1 Airports us a combo of many ways of finding things that shouldn't be there (Ie metal detectors, x-ray, dogs, personal inspections and others that people don't know about and shouldn't know about) so things this this won't get past them. #2 Do you really think some thing thats being posted on ehre hasn't already been thought about or even been put into pratice? This site is all about others sharing thier ideas and thoughts and plans about things thay have made or designed them selfs. If there was an issue with some thing or the content of their ideas it would be taken down before it was an issue. I lost 2 friends in 9-11 and I my self am Ex-Navy, I know the risks of everyday life and for you to take some thing like this and call "FOUL" is counter productive in helping others.

    Just relax and let those who know "Their" jobs do them.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is cool, I like it! It gives me a lot of ideas. I've messed around a bit with conductive paint, this adds a whole different aspect to wearable art.

    I hope "Neverforget" never decides to get into politics. lol

    Are you kidding me?  seriously you think we should abandon all information technology on the off hand someone might perhaps do something stupid with it? This is not a description on how to make a bomb or bypass airport security, its about making wearable circuits, the many metal components would most likely set off the airport metal detector.

    I know if they want it they'll  find it. I’m just sayin…..Please step out of your box and realize you are putting lots of people in danger by making this information so readily available .
    Your 'just sayin' you didn't think too much about your reply before posting it, this ible is really just a how to helper. Who's being but in danger by this? Any one with a bit of time can figure this out, this poster just wanted to make a it little bit of a shorter learning curve. And I will be flagging your comment just so you know.

    rmarchesiDoctor What

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The advantage here is that metal stripes can carry quite a good quantity of current, with conductive thread (usually coated) you are always limited. Conductive thread of course gives you more flexibility in designing circuits.