There is no right way or wrong way to use the thread. But here are some guidelines that I've picked up over the years I've been selling this.
Nothing special to note, other than it can be difficult to thread a needle. I have found that a wire loop needle threader helps a lot. Alternatively, you can use a dental floss threader which you may find at your local drug store.These work well with a sewing machine too.
You may need a needle with a slightly larger hole than a regular needle. This depends more than anything on the sewing machine, so if you have [problems with a regular needle, try a larger.
Most of the time you will want conductive thread only on one side of the fabric, so, If you prefer, you can put the conductive thread on the lower bobbin and sew with the conductive face down.
The thread has a synthetic fibre core which will melt if you push too much current through it. Shorting across the terminals of a standard 9V battery will cause melt-down in only a few seconds.
Consequently, the thread is not very good with solder. I have tried it, and it's feasible but barely so . There are, fortunately, other ways to make good electrical connections. These include sewing, tying knots, conductive epoxy and crimping beads. If you check out my Ideas page, you'll find links to many DIY projects that will help with this.
I got into this business with the idea of providing an inexpensive means for fencers to repair expensive lamés - for you non-fencers, a lamé is a conductive jacket worn to define the target area in foil and sabre. Although most of my thread goes in different directions now, it still works - and I still use it - for this purpose.
Lamé fabric, to be acceptable for competition, must not exceed 5 ohms/sq. Once it drops below this threshold, it may still function adequately for club use, but may not be good for competition. Over more time, your lamé may develop dead spots that further limit its usefulness.
Often, all that's required to bring a lamé back from the dead is to bolster local conductivity by applying conductive thread to the area. If it's a small area, the size of a coin, say, you can just hand sew over the area. If it's a larger problem, then machine sewing a grid over the affected area is usually effective. I have on occasion sewn over the original formerly-conductive traces on a lamé front panel to revive a profoundly dead lame. This takes time, but requires no more than one third of a spool of thread - less than $7 to repair a $100+ lamé.
For very dead lames, I have found these techniques useful:
- Sew with conductive thread only on the outside - it's wasted on the inside
- For profoundly dead lames or areas on lames, simply follow the visible traces of the old conductor to completely replace it. Lines of stitching less than a foil point's width apart will ensure that no dead spots remain.
- Sew through the lining. You could take the lamé apart and sew only through the conductive layer, but it's faster just to sew through both
- Sew both vertically and horizontally. The deader the fabric, the smaller the grid should be, but starting with a 2" (5 cm) grid ensures that no point on the face is more than 1" (2.5 cm ) from good conductivity.
- Sew an extra line (or two, or three) along the hem of the lamé to where the alligator clip will be attached. Often when the front panel starts to go bad, the resistance in the back panel won't be far behind.
- Keep your stitch length short, so there's nothing to snag on a point
Questions or comments? New ideas you'd like to share? Email me here at email@example.com