My comments on components of e-couture:


Here, as in couture, everything is possible. My main interest is in modern materials that have properties of transluscence, reflection, conductivity, antibacterial properties, fire resistance, stitch and cut strength. For all the love for the extraordinary, the result should always be wearable, although I know from experience that a little tolerance in the comfort is appropriate.

An example of the difficulties in detail is my glow sleeve in a suit jacket. Here, light should magically shine out of the sleeve without seeing the source. You can wear the LED light source as an bangles over your wrist, which is easy to put on/off, on/off. However, the disadvantages are the decentralized power supply (see below) and especially that the position in the sleeve is not fixed. This changes the glow effect depending on the arm bending, in the worst case the LEDring even becomes visible because the sleeve slips backwards. So the light source must be installed in the sleeve. Round is difficult here, because the fabric then doesn’t fall so nicely anymore. The light now shines through the fabric if it is not too thick and must be shielded by a layer of fabric inside.

Power supply:

The power supply should be easily replaceable, i.e. a battery change or battery replacement should be possible quickly without much effort, without tools(!).

In the simplest case, e.g. supply an LED directly via a button cell battery mounted next to it. Here, it is recommended to change the battery easily and a possibility of switching on/off.

If you carry a large number of microcontrollers, LEDs, sensors and actuators and would supply them individually with electricity, you would have to carry the different replacement energy sources with you. It is better to supply via a central energy source (e.g. in the inner pocket if possible). There everything could be activated together and if necessary you only have to exchange this source. The downside is that the electricity must now be fed from the central source to all consumers, which requires wires.

A LiPo battery and a Step Down/ or Step UP voltage converter to convert the voltage to the used level would be recommended.

In one of my visions of the future, the wardrobe could become a clothes docking station via the hanger and recharge the e-couture.

Power line:

In order to supply the possible LEDs, sensors and actuators with power, to carry in control signals and to transport sensor data from you, you need cables.

Circular cables apply depending on thickness, there are extremely thin, multi-wired cables in the medical area, which I used 15-10 years ago in my data gloves, they are a bit elaborate in the processing and you have to fasten them in the clothes. The advantage is that they can be bent in all directions due to the round cross-section and thus do not produce any movement resistance in the body joints. The cable can be easily divided into subgroups by e.g. half each into one arm.

Flat wires are available everywhere, can be used for up to about 6 wires in clothing, do not apply. They must either be sewn directly or e.g. be inserted in a sewn or Velcro attached cable duct made of fabric to keep in the clothing. They are bendable in one direction, but bulky in the other. The cable is very easy to divide into subgroups.

Flexpcb cables are flexible printed cables from electrical equipment construction. They are difficult to obtain in the used lengths and tinnumber. They are more compact and narrower than the ribbon lines, allowing up to 10 signals to be transported with them. cable routing via cable ducts or directly sewn in. The cable can only be divisible via plug-in contacts and is difficult to divide. Connection contact strips are very small and difficult to obtain for flying lines (not for print assembly). So overall good for ready-made mass production but too complex for individual pieces.

Lead yarn can be sewn in the clothing washable. Due to its small cross-section, it can only carry small loads, but should be sufficient for all normal applications. If not, you can put two seams in parallel. The yarn is insulated and not insulated. It cannot be soldered, which makes the connection security more complex. Tight sewing and squeezing by clamping are probably the only connection possibilities.

It is possible to pull a current and mass bus (+ and -) through the entire garment, then you can connect the local consumers directly there and do not have to forward individually, but requires that all consumers use the same voltage, otherwise you need voltage converters on the sensor….

Due to the stretchability of fabrics, sewing and laying in a zigzag pattern is recommended, so that changes in length can be compensated without unnecessarily straining the cable or the connections. Also, the guidance of the cables in the places with as little buckling/stretching possibilities as possible is advantageous for operational safety.


Contacts to connect the power supply to the permanent LEDs and with the logic to connect to the sensors, actuators and dependent LEDs are necessary, otherwise you could not replace, wait or clean the garment. The contact question is critical, because the contacts should be reachable, usable several times and as small as possible.

In the case of conductive yarn, if it is not possible to solder, connection contacts are connected via sewing (e.g. lilipad etc.) or made via small sewn or squeezed push-buttons, in detail you have to ensure the best contact even with moving fabric. The sewing must not be in the way of contact between the half-buttons.

Cables can be provided with connectors and sockets, which is sometimes quite chunky and difficult to find, here my research is still running to decide on a system.

Processor, logic:

Arduinos do well, if no Bluetooth is needed it can be an Arduino Nano, which is probably also the maximum size that does not notice. Even an Arduino Nano with Bluetooth module is small enough. If it is to be sewn, it can also be an Arduino Lillypad. If Midi is needed, then a Teensy Controller, if Wi-Fi is needed (but no or only a small own website) then the Arduino MKR1000 also works. I am constantly testing more controllers, soon the Arduino Mini.

Sensors, actuators, switches:

Everything that is not too hot, consumes too much electricity, does not annoy. Typical are LEDs as strips or individually, distance sensors (infrared and ultrasound, capacitive sensors), vibration motors, memory metal wire (Nitinol=shape change, Flexinol=length change).

It is convenient if the selected sensors are connected to a voltage source (e.g. 5VDC) and thus voltage converters can be eliminated.

Switches should be easily accessible, e.g. on the battery. For corrosion reasons, they must be either removable or sealed or made of conductive material. The latter allows the incorporation into the garment and the cleaning.

Safety remarks:

Since clothing is usually highly mobile and flexible, extreme attention must be paid to safety against short circuits of any lines or components value.

Overheating of the power supply, pipes or components can lead to burns or ignition of the materials and become very dangerous.

Third parties may feel irritated by cables hanging out of their clothes or exotic components, panicking or alerting police for fear of attacks.

Bright flashes of light or acoustic signals can cause irritation or accidents in the environment.

You could get stuck as a wearer by the attached components somewhere and fall or similar.