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Topic: eTextiles & Kids - Where to start? (Read 3258 times) previous topic - next topic


Hello everyone :-)

What materials should I buy to use with students in grades 5-8, ideas for short projects or recommended reads? :-)

Long version:
I have just started with Arduino as my students asked if we could do some electronics and robotics in my courses.
Of course I agreed, found out about Arduino and ordered stuff; 
Right now the first orders arrived, and a little 3-Wheel robot is running through the living room trying to avoid obstacles such as myself... Fun stuff.

I recently stumbles upon some wearable projects and really liked the idea. 
It  would also be a great activity for my course and may encourage some girls to get into technical stuff. Sadly, I only had a few female students in all my courses (3D printing, astronomy, stop-motion animation). If some do get into the course, often  sceptical  at first, they are usually those that show a lot of creativity and engagement after starting assignments.
It is sad that some still think that technical stuff is just for boys, but it is fun to prove everyone can do it.

#Problem I: TMI
The first problem is that there is SO much information out there (Blogs of artists, etextilelounge, kobakant...) I find it   to get started and decide on what materials I should order. Books I found interesting where not available locally or  with horrid shipping cost.
I now picked up some factoids here and there, I know about different threads, soldering to fabric and how to make LED beads, but I still feel lost.
Any reading recommendations or tutorials?

#Problem II: Materials to choose.
I thought I had it down to some 2ply iron wire and some other stuff, but then I have read that someone had problems with  their students because they where not doing well  sewing it.
Any recommendations, especially on materials available in Germany or cheap shipping to Europe?

I was going to order some $1 Shirts and $2 shoulder bags to get started, and perhaps let them bring own clothing to work on 
if they want.

I also wonder if it would not be possible to mix textile glue, iron powder and use a stencil to apply it to fabric.  I have read about all kind of funky methods such as filling inkjet cartridges with silver paint or using a laser cutter to get conductive fabric into nice shapes, all too complicated for now.

#Problem III: Cost
Another major problem is cost. The school only pays for few things, and I try not to put in more of my money then necessary

Lilypad and other plattforms seem great, but the total cost per student would have to be limited to 6-8 Dollars.
I was thinking of using $2 Mini Pro Arduino clones and print something similar to 
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:13198 (Lilypad Holder)
and either solder snaps/rings/magnets to the mini.

I have bags full of sensors (LDR, IR TSOPs, Ultrasonic,...), regular LED, $0.02 5050rgb and $0.14 WS2812b LED I will  pre-solder with beads/tubes.

The Lilypad clones cost from $5 what would eat up most of the budget, leaving not much for LED, thread and materials.

Regarding the 5v, I would either use two Lithium cells or a single cell with voltage booster.

Problem IV: Time for Projects and ideas
Courses usualy go for 8x90 minutes in which I would have to cover the basics of electronics and programming (Perhaps I would  use Amici or Ardublock, but I am not sure about that yet), and then complete the project.

I considered some easy circuit stitching, and perhaps a shoulder bag that would iluminate inside if it'S dark outside (ldr)

and the bag is open (Tilt switch, conductive velcro, hall sensor, not sure yet).
Or maybe a shirt with some nice blink patterns. The ws2812b could be nice for that.

I would also like to learn about other peoples experience with Arduino and kids. I did find some nice blog posts but most where just focusing on the project presentation and not mentioning much about teaching programming or what problems can occur when sewing electronics... :-)



Have a google for the words:-
Handcrafting Textile Sensors from Scratch
And read the top PDF that you find, it has some good projects.


Oct 24, 2014, 10:54 am Last Edit: Oct 24, 2014, 10:57 am by sucram
Hello Mike,
thanks, that was an interesting read :-)
I have seen some of those on youtube and the various sites/blogs, it is nice to have them in one PDF for reference.
I have now ordered some thread, fabric and hook&loop at Sparkfun (as it was way cheaper during a sale, even regarding shipping and I stayed under the tax-free import value).

For now I will focus on the robotics project, hopefully I can get a wearables course ready for next year. That will give me enough time to solder some of the LED beads... :D

Do you (or anyone else) know if there is a well-visited etextile/wearable forum? From what my searches brought up, it seems to be spread out over Arduino, Instructables, Reddit and so on.


I was at the Rome Maker fair at the start of this month and my friend Robert Fitzsimons was there with some wearables. He does the electronics and his mum does the garment design.

There is a whole list of what was on show there at this link:-

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