Fabric Tape with Standard (non-sewable) Parts: Swatch 03

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, if you’re worried about it pulling off. (You can’t do this with copper tape).

Attachment between components:

In this test, we used standard components which are really intended to be soldered. We cannot solder to the fabric tape because it will burn, so instead we sewed around the conductive leads of the components with conductive thread. For example, stripping the wire, and sewing around the copper to make a good connection to the fabric tape.

Pros and Cons:

Pros: This conductive nylon tape is inexpensive, very flexible, and easily integrates into fabric in a way that is flexible 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. Sewing to standard elements is doable, especially to copper wire because you can strip a large area to sew around, and this swatch performed well in our test.

Cons: The battery connector was difficult to sew a connection to, as the tab is small and wants to slip out of the thread. The tabs are also brittle and break easily. A battery connector with wires that you can strip, or a battery connector that is designed to be sewn, would be more reliable. The tape in combination with conductive thread has a slightly higher resistance, compared to wire and solder.

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