E-textiles, in some fashion, have been around for over a century. However, just recently they have become more mainstream in both the fashion industry and the maker movement. E-textiles are a very accessible electronics project that is engaging to students. Particularly because they can wear their creation. To get you introduced, I suggest taking a look at any of the following 5 books about e-textiles.
Publication Year: 2013
Current GoodReads score: 4.14 stars (out of 5), 21 ratings
Sew Electric offers hands-on tutorials for the LilyPad Arduino. Readers will be able to complete at least four projects: sparkling bracelet, fabric piano, singing monster, and glow-in-the-dark bookmark. It helps makers combine sewing, circuit design, and programming.
You will need to purchase a number of components to complete the projects (the book estimates around $100 for both the electronics and crafts combined).
The book is a good introduction to the LilyPad Arduino, though you can adapt the instructions to other projects and materials. As such, it is a great introduction to learning about projects that include both sewing and electronics.
The book, for the most part, is written with young, beginner audiences in mind. One critique of the book is that later sections delve too far into coding intricacies and may not be as accessible to beginning coders.
Pages: 280 (e-book)
Publication Year: 2013
Current GoodReads score: 4.16 stars (out of 5), 51 ratings
Make: Wearable Electronics covers a wide range of topics in their guide: circuits, conductive materials, switches, e-textile toolkits, making electronics wearable, microcontrollers, sensors, actuators, and wireless. The book is intended to be an introduction to physical computing and teach readers how to create interactive, electronic garments.
Readers are generally positive on the presentation of concepts and find the project guidelines easy to follow. Frequent examples especially benefit readers who have difficulty understanding concepts abstractly.
Much of the content can be found spread across the Web but having it all in one place (especially in tangible form) can be beneficial.
Pages: 304 (paperback)
Publication Year: 2016
Current GoodReads score: 4.11 stars (out of 5), 9 ratings
By the name, you can tell that the book contains much, much more than just items related to wearable electronics. But, it does have 30 pages devoted to wearable electronics that includes 3 projects: sewing LED bracelets, wearable art cuffs with DIY (do-it-yourself), and a heavy metal stuffie with Lilypad Arduino. The remainder of the books covers a wide array of maker-related topics, making this a great addition if you or your children plan to explore the maker-verse more broadly.
The book is a great resource for parents, librarians, teachers, or others who are looking for guided projects that can be used to work with children. The book is filled with inexpensive projects and detailed enough instructions for beginners to complete.
The book is not geared towards younger makers with fewer pictures than other books. Instead, as mentioned above, it is better used by an older teen maker or by someone working with a junior maker.
Pages: 246 (paperback)
Publication Year: 2013
Current GoodReads score: 4.29 stars (out of 5), 7 ratings
Textile Messages is an essay collection that targets novices with a broad range of topics intended to help people learn and create e-textiles. The various authors address how e-textiles integrate into society and how they have been used, or could be used, across the K-16 education spectrum.
Not many readers have reviewed Textile Messages. Based on the table of contents and reading through descriptions, I would not recommend this as a how-to-guide for e-textiles. The book appears to take a much more theoretical, rather than practical, approach to e-textiles.
The book is ideal for an academic studying the field or for someone interested in reading about a number of projects but not necessarily learn how to them yourself.
Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA: Making Wearables with an Arduino-Compatible Electronics Platform
Pages: 112 (paperback)
Publication Year: 2015
Current GoodReads score: 3.60 stars (out of 5), 10 ratings
The book is a great introduction to AdaFruit’s FLORA board which is one of the easiest ways to get started creating wearable projects. The book walks you through the process, starting with how to plan your circuit.
The book is a great resource of content. But, much (if not all) of the content can be found for free via AdaFruit’s webpage.
Additionally, you can find a nice selection of wearable electronics tutorials by Becky Stern, one of the authors, on Youtube.
After taking a look at these books about e-textiles, you can check out some of the fun wearable electronics projects over at Instrucables.