How to Make Your Own Wearable Switch

An electrical switch is simply a device that starts and stops electric current by opening and closing the electrical circuit. In the simplest description, a switch has two conductive pieces, usually metal, called contacts, connected to an external circuit, that touch to complete (make) the contact, and separate to open (break) the circuit.

 

This article will show you how to make your own easy, inexpensive switch using textile components, which will create a connection that you can engage and will stay engaged until you disengage it. This will be similar to a light switch that you turn on, and it will stay on until you turn it off.

 

Materials you will need

 

  • An LED light
  • An assortment of fabric snaps
  • Coin sized cell battery – 20mm (CR2032). This Lithium metal 3V 250mAh, great for powering low processors or blink an LED.
  • Set of sewing needles
  • Conductive Thread Bobbin – 30ft (Stainless Steel)
  • Coin Cell Battery Holder – Switched – 20mm

 

You will also need to have a piece of felt, scissors, fabric, an embroidery hoop and maybe a needle threader (if needed).

 

Steps to creating your switch

Start by cutting a small strip off of your felt, about half an inch and 2-3 inches long.

 

Place your battery holder where you’d like it. Then stitch the positive pins to the fabric and each other with conductive thread. Continue the trace another inch or so in the direction you’d like your LED to travel. Position the strip of felt strip, that you cut, with one thin end next to your trace and the other end pointing toward the planned spot of your LED. Sew a few stitches around the close edge of the felt, attaching it firmly to the fabric.

 

Next, continue the trace up the length of the felt, no longer stitching through the fabric. This should result in a strip of felt attached at the end to the fabric. Leave the rest of the felt piece loose, with a trace of conductive thread along the whole length.

 

At the detached edge of felt, where your trace ends, stitch the male side (the end with the nipple) of the snap to the bottom of the felt strip. The snap nipple should point toward the fabric. There are small holes around the edge of the snap to allow it to be sewn to the fabric. When this end of the snap is firmly attached, knot and cut the thread.

 

Next begin a new trace and sew the female side of the snap, with the hole facing up, to the fabric below the male side. This should allow the two snaps to mate when the felt strip is at full extension.

 

Stitch from the snap to where you’d like the positive pin of the LED to be, and sew the LED down. Knot and cut your thread.

 

Next, start with a new thread and sew down the negative pin of the LED.

 

After that, sew a trace back to the negative pins of the battery pack and stitch those down as well.


That’s all there is to it! Slide your battery into the battery holder with the positive side up and turn the battery pack switch on. When you snap the felt to the fabric, the light will turn on, when you unsnap it the light will turn off.

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