DIY – Fabric Display

fabric-led-display Fabric Light-Bright is an amazing textile display project from Eli Skipp of Pumping Station One, a first class hacking community in Chicago.

I have never seen before such a simple yet highly unique eTextile design. Simple in it’s functionality as described by Eli but highly expendable and wide open for upgrading to more complex functionality.

What I am talking about is a piece of cloth on which you can stick LEDs almost anywhere to form characters, writing a message or to draw a graphic with LEDs. Connect this cloth to a battery and the writing or painting will light up.

Being made of textiles, this piece of textile electronics can be easily attached to clothing without adding stiffness.

How is it made? Simple! Sew conductive thread lines, the positive contact onto a regular piece of fabric. Make a second piece in the same way for the ground or minus pin and sandwich the two pieces together with another regular fabric between to keep the conductive lines separated.

Use a conductive fabric band to connect all positive and another band for the negative lines. Alternatively you could use conductive thread to sew the connection in case you have no conductive fabric on hand.


Bend the legs of the LEDs as shown in the instruction document and connect a battery to the positive and ground band and whatever you have ‘drawn’ with the LEDs will light up.

Additional photos showing the Fabric display in more details can be found on the Flickr stream of Anne Petersen.

As Eli mentions in the instruction document, there is plenty of room to expand on this simple concept, using different color LEDs, adding a LilyPad or sound functions. Actually this concept shows a way how to make a 2-sided PCB out of textile materials which will  be very useful for eTextile projects experiments.


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