DIY – conductive thread

DIY_conductive_thread.jpgConductive thread is one of the key elements for e-textile crafting but it seems sometimes difficult for people to get their hands on commercially available conductive thread. This Instructables might be a good starting point to get aspiring e-textile crafters started.

For the thread material only two ingredient’s are needed: fine cotton thread and very fine wires which can be salvaged from relays or other spool components in electronic devices.

The Instructables focuses on a smart, simple way of fabricating the spool machine with parts that can be easily found around the house.

Read the instruction carefully, especially point 6 which explains how to use the self made conductive thread made from those fine wires coming from electronic components. These wires are usually insulated.

This insulation has to be removed on the points where an electrical connection has to be made. One way of removing the insulation is to use a solder iron to melt off the insulation.

Due to the heat of the solder iron, only Cotton thread as carrier will work as Polyester thread would melt while removing the insulation on the fine wires.

The upside of using insulated wires is: the insulation which allows the cross-sewing of the conductive thread.

If you have no way to get commercially available conductive thread or you want to have full control over the resistance of the conductive thread, this Instructables can help you.


  1. Thanks Eric!
    perfect solution to a little challenge I have…..

    can’t believe this was posted Sept 2008 and I never found it.
    Thanks for bringing this innovation to my attention.

    woot for serendipity!

  2. Unfortunately, you will have difficulty working with thread with a single strand of conductive/metallic wire running through it. If the conductive wire breaks or snaps at any point, you will lose continuity (and it will be difficult to determine exactly where it broke). The way conductive thread is made is that several stands of conductive filament are twisted and intertwined with polyester or nylon thread.

    There are several yarns (used for knitting) that have a single stainless strand. These yarns are made in a similar fashion as the technique above and do not work very well for soft circuits. My advice would be to spend the $$ and stick with the “real” conductive thread from Sparkfun. It’ll make your prototyping much easier!

  3. Eric and Syuzi,

    have you ever tried using silk covered multifilamentary copper wires for sewing jobs like these – we have some quite fine wires left over from another job that would have very low resistances and would also be solderable.


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