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5. E-textiles


I have worked with arduino before and soldered few things together. What I wanted to explore during the e-textile week was the possibilites how to make and create a soft circuites without wires. I was truly amazed this week since I have only used conductive thread for my project, but the increadible amount of soft circuits that Michelle has showed to us was amazing!

E-textiles Week - Michelle's Samples

Michelle has also showed us the increadible resource Kobakant, where you can find increadible amount of soft sensors and tutorials.

For example this stretch fabrics matrix


I have a lot of great e-textile project inspirators. Here is some examples from them

Rachel Freire

Rachel Freire is a London based artist and designer working in fashion, costume and garment technology. She has created a lot of great work that has influenced me a lot. One of the e-textile projects I really like is - Second skin - sn exploration of eTextile stretch circuits and their implementation in a functioning full body garment as a rapid prototyping shell.

Rachel Freire - Second Skin

Rachel has also created instructables to follow along, how to make circuits on strechy fabrics.

Second Skin - stretch circuit test from Rachel Freire on Vimeo.

She has also made a very nice tutorial of wheel capacitive sensor.

And this amazing E-Textile Gloves

Lynne Bruning

Lynne Bruning has a very nice short series on instructables about e-textiles from conductive threads till conductive fabrics.

Process and workflow

Michelle has brought her knitting machine and we were able to try to knit with conductive yarn. It was actually a piece of work to let it work. I have zero knitting knowladge, so it was a very crazy experience for me, but once it was threaded it was quit easy to use. I love the idea that it actually works with the same mechanism as old computers did, reading the punch card to create the desired pattern.

Knitting Machine - Knitting Conductive Fabrics by Linette Manuel

Digital Sensor

I have made a very easy switch with that lights the LED. The circuit had soft aligator clips created from conductive tread, safety pins and shrinking tubes.

To make this aligator clips you need to:

  • cut a long piece of conductive thread
  • wrapp the conductive thread around the end of the safety pin manytimes
  • cover the pinning half of the safety pin with a shrinking tube
  • use heat for the shrinking tube to shrink

Digital sensors have only a binary output, therefore we can only get two states HIGH (1) or LOW (0), you can image in as a on and off button.

Analog Sensor

I was able to create my analog sensor with the knitting machine and conductive yarn. The analog sensor is a sensor that produces continuous output signal or voltage. In this way we can messure or sense continuos properties such as temperature, resistance, pressure speed in the given moment. We can imagine analog sensors as a wave, on which we can always read the number at the given moment.

Code Example for Digital Read on Arduino

I have used INPUT_PULLUP here instead of simple INPUT since I want to take the advantage of the inner resistor on the arduino. I can achieve better reads and control the HIGHs and LOWs more accuratelly without using another resistor. I have found a great resource that explains INPUT_PULLUP in depth.

int ledPin = 13;  // LED connected to digital pin 13
int inPin = 7;    // pushbutton connected to digital pin 7
int val = 0;      // variable to store the read value

void setup() {
  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);  // sets the digital pin 13 as output
  pinMode(inPin, INPUT_PULLUP);    // sets the digital pin 7 as input_pull

void loop() {
  val = digitalRead(inPin);   // read the input pin
  digitalWrite(ledPin, val);  // sets the LED to the button's value

Code Example for Analog Read on Arduino

int analogPin = A3; 
int val = 0;  // variable to store the value read

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(9600);           //  setup serial

void loop() {
  val = analogRead(analogPin);  // read the input pin
  Serial.println(val);          // debug value

Last update: 2023-01-23