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E-textile bag

Learning paths

Path Target Duration Skills
Discovery 18-25 1 week coding, electronics, 3D printing, sewing

Introduction and context

Activity Description Production of a drawstring bag with integrated electronic components: light or distance sensors, microcontroller and LEDs with 3d printed caps. The bag will be decorated with a cut-out sticker.

Objectives - Concept development - Understand how we can produce soft circuits - Learn how to embed electronics on fabrics - Study and learn soft-hard connections - Discover necessary materials, components, tools - Design a circuit with a sensors and LEDS - Program a microcontroller - Aesthetics and function - Documentation

Learning paths

Target audience and context of use

Our target audience were 2nd year Fashion University students but this activity can be adapted to any students. To make the workshop easier, you can give to the students a pre-made bag (tote bag or drawstring bag). We advise to have a maximum of 8 participants.

Preparation and materials

It is highly recommended to make a sample of the swatch in order to show a tangible example to the participants. Read the information provided by Adafruit on the Gemma V2 board Prepare sample code that can be easily used to test the circuit. Buy a pre-made bag (tote bag or drawstring bag) if you want to focus on the electronic part of the workshop. Photos of Materials

Equipment, Tools and Materials

  • Mu Editor, a simple code editor that works with the Adafruit Gemma v0 and others CircuitPython boards. It's written in Python and works on Windows, MacOS, Linux and Raspberry Pi.
  • Inkscape for vector graphics
  • Software for the Silhouette Cameo vinyl cutter
  • Cura: slicer for the 3d printer
  • Sewing needle
  • Sewing machine
  • Soldering iron
  • Vinyl cutter (Silhouette Cameo)
  • 3d printer (Creality CR-20)

Proposed Schedule Schedule: 9:30 am -1:00 pm and 2:00pm – 5:30 pm: 45 Hours in total

Specifically the E-textiles agenda:

Step by Step Instructions

STEP BY STEP overview

  • In the first part of the workshop, participants need to understand how electronic circuits work. You first have to demonstrate the differents components of an electronic circuit:
  • Sensors which collect environmental datas.
  • Actuators which are responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism (motor, light…)
  • Microcontrollers: integrated circuit with a microprocessor. It runs a program that controls the actuators depending on the datas collected by the sensors.
  • Presentation of the electronics components used in e-textile project: neopixels LED, Adafruit Gemma microcontroller Lilypad light sensor, ultrasonic sensors, conductive thread and battery.
  • Show the constraints around e-textiles (battery, avoid short-circuit)
  • Algorithm is a step-by-step procedure that defines clearly for each possible inputs and outputs. This algorithm could be translated into a program that can be understood by the microcontroller. The programming is done in micro python. Here a template that can be reus
  • This technique is used to decorate the bag. First, the design is done with a vectorial drawing made with Inkscape. Then, it is cutted with the vinyl cutter
  • To change the aspect of the neopixel LED, 3d printed buttons are used. You can look at the file and print it with your machine.
  • Cut, assembly and sew the bag, the integrated circuit and vinyl cut decoration. Test the electronics.

Safety rules & Tips

The circuit relying the + of each led and the circuit for the ground must never cross each other to avoid short circuit. If some leds don't come on or are flickering, your stitches might not be snug enough against the pads of the circuit board. Double check your sewing and reinforce it where necessary (with the circuit off/unplugged).

Flyer for participants

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Evaluation Criteria

The students were graded by their tutor and by the Lab. There were only two grades passed and failed. This grading system was decided by the tutor of la HEAD. There is ECTS but each university, each course and each module is different. In this case this week was part of the module Fashion and New technologies week and the student needed to do at least 30 hours which represent 1 credit.

Additionally we used zine as a form of evaluation of each day. We gave them a presentation:

Tips to facilitate the activity in context (to-do / not do)

To do: - Give templates for the code, to allow students to modify values according to their needs, without coding from scratch - If time doesn’t allow it, 3D print the button for the neopixels before the workshop. - Show them an example of an e-textile product. - If you want students to focus only on the electronic and programming part, give them an already made bag (tote bag for example)

Don’t: - Don't let the students work too extensively on the design of the bag because the electronics part takes as much time. Students should include the electronic circuit early in the production. Electronic debugging and coding takes about 3-6 hours. Depending on the specific objectives of the workshop, consider ½ or 1/3 of the time for the modeling and sewing part and ½ or ⅔ of the time for the electronics - Don’t let them decide when to do their evaluation (zines) otherwise they won’t do it at all.

Estimated cost
Always consider to find local providers - BOM of materials for 6 groups (total: $239.45)

Item Quantity Cost ($) Link to vendor
Neopixel 5*6 $63.60
Gemma M0 6 $59.70
LilyPad Light sensor 5 $18.75
Ultrasonic distance sensor 5 $19.75
Conductive Thread - 60g (Stainless Steel) 2 $47.95
Lithium Ion Battery (400mAh) JST-PH connector 6 $4.95 * 6: $29.70


Links to photos and recorded materials

Related and supporting activities/modules

Here is my example of pattern


References and further reading

E-textiles Wearables Liza Stark Hard/Soft Connections Introducing Gemma Sewable NeoPixels

Related and supporting activities/modules

Licence and credits

Attribution — ShareAlike CC BY-SA This activity has been designed by Paddy Condevaux from Onl’fait for

Related and supporting activities/modules
It can be combined with the other topics of Topic/skills, part of ...

Last update: December 23, 2022