Fabric Tape with Sewable Components: Swatch 10

Attachment to fabric:

Conductive fabric tape is a “tape” and has adhesive on the back which works pretty well for prototyping on fabric. For a more permanent swatch, we used iron-on adhesive, also known as seam tape to create a strong bond between the tape and fabric. For more information, check our post on iron-on interfacing. Because this is a fabric tape, you could also sew through it to make a more permanent bond to the fabric.

Attachment between components:

In this test, we used sewable components. By sitting them on the conductive tape traces, we could simply sew through the pcbs holes with conductive thread for a quick and reliable connection.

However you can see in this detail image the adhesive marks from where I had to move the tape. I should’ve checked the distance between the + and – holes on the pcb before I laid down the traces.

Pros and Cons:

Pros: This conductive nylon tape is inexpensive, very flexible, and easily integrates into fabric in a way that is low-profile and comfortable. You have three options to get it into your fabric: the existing tape, sewing, or adding iron-on adhesive for a more permanent bond.

This material works especially well with sewable components, and it is easy to connect to them with hand stitching. In terms of ease of use, performance, and suitability for wearables, this was my favorite swatch.

Cons:  The tape in combination with conductive thread has a slightly higher resistance, compared to wire and solder. Like many eTextiles materials, it is not insulated, so you must be mindful of avoiding accidental contact with conductive materials that could cause a short.

This material can be purchased at Adafruit and Digikey. Feel free to share other suppliers.