Smart Textiles Talk (slides) #WearableWednesday

00 conductive thread adafruit

Recently I gave a talk at the Smart Textiles event at Eyebeam, as part of the Computational Fashion series. This post contains my presentation, both in slides and (approximate) words. When video from the event is online, we’ll post it up too! I had bronchitis at the time anyway, so this post probably tells the story a little more clearly:

02 adafruit site

At Adafruit, make tutorials, kits, and open-source devices that allow curious tinkerers to create the gadgets of their dreams while learning the concepts and techniques behind how all our favorite gadgets actually work.

03 collin tie full

I focus on creating wearable electronics projects that beginners can make at home.

04a materials

We source and test all kinds of conductive textiles and bring what we think are the best to our customers through our online store. We like to think of ourselves as an educational tutorial company with a gift shop at the end.

05 lilypad embroidery

I started my first project with conductive thread in 2008, and here it is. I ordered a spool of silver plated nylon from a guy who repairs fencing equipment in Canada and got stitching to make this light-reactive, sound emitting embroidery. After about a year, the silver plating tarnished, building up oxidation where once there was electrical conductivity. The circuit stopped working, and there was nothing I could do to repair it.

07 sparkle skirt adafruit

As an artist wanting to make archival-quality work that stands the test of time, this was a heatbreaking experience.

6a sparkle skirt thumbnail

But it drove me to work hard to put together a great ecosystem of hardware and conductive textiles to allow imaginative fashion designers and at-home crafters to make really robust, functional garments & accessories that 06 sense the world around them and light up the dance floor.

08 conductive thread tutorial

And it reinforced the importance of documentation to me– some of my earlier works only still exist as pictures and videos. So every week I make a new tutorial– and here’s a guide I made about the stainless steel thread we carry at Adafruit.

09 ID640three LRG

We show what each of the three kinds look like close up,

10 JMD 5752

what their electrical properties are,

11 sparkle skirt 14 adafruit

how to create circuits with it,

12 flora accelerometer 12

how to prevent it from coming unraveled,

13 flora lux 6

and special things to watch out for if you’re a beginner,

14 sewn flora gps

like making sure your sensors aren’t too far away from your microcontroller

15 sewing machine conductive thread adafruit

You can put it in the bobbin-side of a sewing machine,

16 pixel fabric

but it doesn’t always mean you can avoid using more traditional electronics tools when the projects get bigger and more complicated– in this case alligator clips come in handy.

17 1126insitu LRG

In fact what’s so interesting to me about wearables is that you can combine any number of traditional crafts like embroidery and sewing with electronics skills like soldering to make modular snap circuits.

17a tv b gone jacket becky stern

Another thing conductive thread is good for is making innovative switches– in this case when the zipper pull travels past and connects these two pads of conductive thread, the electrical signal triggers the device to power down nearby television sets.

18 flora capsense adafruit thumb

We also do some projects with conductive fabric. Here I’m using a capacitive touch-sensing circuit to change the color of the LED when I come in contact with the fabric.

19 flora plush controller1 adafruit

We used the same principle to make a plush game controller with conductive fabric buttons, connected to a Flora board, which is our arduino compatible wearables board with built-in USB support.

20 flora plush controller2 adafruit

This one plugs into the computer so you can play your favorite online NES emulators.

21 desk

It’s our goal to provide fun do-it-yourself projects that allow enthusiastic novices to make radically custom wearable electronics and really bring their imaginations to life.

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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