Monday, December 15, 2014

More Fun with Conductive Thread

We recently finished a 3 day workshop on sewing with conductive thread for 5-8th graders.  The students made felt ornaments for the holiday season.  We used the adafruit electronic sewing kit for our supply list. One of our biggest hurdles was getting the kids to learn to sew (and having the patience for it!). Also, thinking about the stages of design before actually committing to sewing. How can the lights be arranged and still make the circuit work? (since the positive and negative sides can't cross).  What's the easiest place to put the battery holder? How does using a snap or button affect the circuit?

1. Begin by practicing threading a needle and perhaps work on different stitches (without conductive thread).  Ellen has this great stitch book that she made with another group a while back.
2. When you are setting up LEDs label positive and negative sides on felt or with tape
3. Might want to skip adding a switch for the first ornament
4. Make sure the needle fits through the 3V battery holder (if you are using something you had around the house it might be too big)
5.  Multiple felt layers make it tough to hand sew
6. Your first circuit might want to be sewn onto a separate piece of felt, then shape it to fit in the final design and lay over another piece of felt as shown with the dino candy cane on the left
7. Have wire cutters handy to shorten LED leads after curling the ends
8. Make sure to have normal thread that matches Christmas colors 
9. If everyone is a beginning sewer, it might be nice to have volunteers on hand for a one to one ratio for the first class
10. Talk about troubleshooting thread before...what to do if the thread gets stuck, comes lose, etc.

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