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Getting Started with E-Textiles: Positioning LEDs Through Fabric

There are a range of different methods that can be used to insert LEDs into your fabric. The choice of method depends on the type of fabric being used, the type of product, the position of the LED and the level of quality finish that is required.


The different methods are as follows.

Cutting holes in fabric

This is the easiest method as the LED simply pokes through the hole. This is particularly good for non-fraying fabrics but is not recommended for any fabric that frays as this will result in a poor quality finish.


Lay the circuit underneath the fabric

The LEDs will shine through many fabrics, even heavy and dark ones. This means that the circuit can sit underneath a layer of fabric. This also means that the fabric surface lays flat and smooth which for some products is a bonus.


Insert the LED into a seam in the fabric

Stitch a seam leaving a hole big enough for the bulb on the LED. The LED pokes through the hole.


Buttonhole or metal eyelet

Create a buttonhole or attach a metal eyelet through which the LED bulb can poke through.



Poke the legs of a standard LED through a 2 hole button and then through your fabric. The legs can then be twisted and sewn to the fabric as normal. You will need a button where the holes are the same distance apart as the distance between the legs on the LED.


Attaching LEDs and other components to your fabric

LEDs and other components can either be attached directly to the main fabric that the product is made out of, or they can be attached to a backing layer that sits behind the main fabric.

To attach the components to the main fabric it needs to be thick enough to carry the stitches without them being seen on the right side.

LEDs and a circuit sitting on top of a seam:


The legs of a standard LED have been poked through the fabric and sewn to a backing layer of fabric so that the stitches are invisible on the right side.


The circuit is completely separate to the main fabric and the LED slides through the eyelet.



Once you're familiar with with LEDs, how to add them and position them, why not check out our final tutorial in the series; adding switches to an E-textile circuit.

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