Sketch&Stitch: Interactive Embroidery for E-Textiles

An end-to-end fabrication system to transform a sketch on fabric into an interactive circuit using conductive embroidery.


E-Textiles are fabrics that integrate electronic circuits and components. Makers use them to create interactive clothing, furniture, and toys. However, this requires significant manual labor and skills, and using technology-centric design tools. We introduce Sketch&Stitch, an interactive embroidery system to create e-textiles using a traditional crafting approach: Users draw their art and circuit directly on fabric using colored pens. The system takes a picture of the sketch, converts it to embroidery patterns, and sends them to an embroidery machine. Alternating between sketching and stitching, users build and test their design incrementally. Sketch&Stitch features Circuitry Stickers representing circuit boards, components, and custom stitch patterns for wire crossings to insulate, and various textile touch sensors such as pushbuttons, sliders, and 2D touchpads. Circuitry Stickers serve as placeholders during design. Using computer vision, they are recognized and replaced later in the appropriate embroidery phases. We close with technical considerations and application examples. 

Quick Links

Paper (CHI 18)
Tool download
Smart Textiles research
Project folder [Internal Access} 
Funding project: 3DCC
Contact: Nur Hamdan


Sketch and Stitch A Smart Textile

Stitch your own smart textile using any commercial embroidery machine. Find how in the paper

Materials and tools

  • A piece of fabric and embroidery threads
  • Madeira conductive embroidery yarn
  • Bernina 880 computerized embroidery machine, or any other machine
  • To use the Sketch&Stitch system, download our tool(s)

Related Projects

  • Sketch&Stitch OS-iOS Suit: An OS app for filtering an image (e.g., a sketch) based on color, and communicating with embroidery machine software to convert each colored file into a custom embroidery pattern that can be stitched using any commercial embroidery machine. An iOS app to capture the image and send it directly to the OS app.
  • Smart Textile Router: A web-based tool based on Eagle for routing wires in arbitrarily shaped PCBs. Originally developed to allow routing conductive yarn traces in artistic smart textile interfaces.
  • Smart Glove Maker: A web-based tool for creating smart gloves using conductive embroidery and for programming them by demonstration, i.e., without writing any code. 

Relevant Links



  • David Garcia Olivares. The Smart-Glove Maker: An Embroidery-Based Pipeline for Fabricating Smart-Gloves. Master's Thesis, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, November 2018.
    PDF DocumentBibTeX Entry
  • Philip Kindermann. Embroidered touchpad sensors. Master's Thesis, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, April 2018.
    PDF DocumentBibTeX Entry
  • Nur Al-huda Hamdan, Simon Voelker and Jan Borchers. Sketch&Stitch: Interactive Embroidery for E-Textiles.  In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI '18, pages 82:1–82:13, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2018.
    HomepageMoviePDF DocumentBibTeX Entry

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