Back in 2004 when I first became fascinated with e-textiles, there were virtually no resources to purchase conductive thread commercially. I was fortunate enough to be a graduate student at the time and convinced manufacturers out of my sheer curiosity to mail me samples of their spools of conductive thread. Now in 2009 there is a growing number of threads available commercially and if I have my way :-), soon your local craft and hobby stores will be carrying small affordable spools.

I get a lot of questions regarding which conductive thread I prefer or use. Unfortunately there is no ONE ideal thread — it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. That being said, I have diligently created a review of all the threads I have tinkered with to share with all of you. This list will be updated as I continue to experiment with new materials. Next will be my review on the fabrics — so stay tuned.

I hope this answers most of your questions. Analysis below (also can be found under Resources).

Everything you ever wanted to know about conductive thread! Following information below is an analysis of commercially-available conductive thread. I list relative stats and all the pros and cons of working with the thread from my own personal experience.



Silver Plated Nylon 117/12 x 2ply

ConductiveThread_117/17x2ply


Great light-weight thread but due to its moderate resistance I recommend limiting the length of your traces. This thread has a unique property of changing its resistance depending on whether it's stretched or loose.

Thread Specs
Resistance: ~ 75-85ohm/foot (when stretched/sewn) 1.2 -1.8K loose.
Thread Weight: Fine
Manufacturer: = Shieldex
Quantity: 1oz Spool (about 150 yds)
Where to Buy: $16.95 @ LessEMF.com | $19.95 @ Sparkfun

Thread Analysis
Bobbin thread= yes
Top Thread = no
Hand Stitch = yes but a little difficult because thread is fine.
Fraying = Light
Resistance = Medium


Silver Plated Nylon 234/34 x 4ply

ConductiveThread_234/34x4ply.jpg


Low resistance thread but it's really thick and tends to fray heavily.

Thread Specs
Resistance: ~ 14 ohms/foot
Thread Weight: Thick
Manufacturer: = Shieldex
Quantity: 2.5 oz Spool (about 190 yards)
Where to Buy: $19.95 @ Sparkfun

Thread Analysis
Bobbin thread= yes
Top Thread = no
Hand Stitch = yes
Fraying = Heavy
Resistance = Low


Conductive Thread from Lame Lifesaver

Conductive Thread



Overall a good solid medium-weight thread with nominal resistance and minimal fraying.

Thread Specs
Resistance: ~ 30-35 ohms/foot
Thread Weight: Medium
Manufacturer: = Unknown
Quantity: spool about 200 yards
Where to Buy: ~ $17.95 US @ Lame Lifesaver

Purchase 10ft Sample of Lame Lifesaver conductive thread ($5)

Thread Analysis
Bobbin thread= yes
Top Thread = no
Hand Stitch = yes
Fraying = low
Resistance = Low


234/34 4 Ply HC Conductive Silver Thread

234/34 4 Ply Conductive Thread


This is an excellent overall thread with low resistance and light fraying. The thread is thick like Silver Plated Nylon 234/34 x 4ply but is MUCH easier to work with because of its light fraying. The main drawback is the cost because it is only available in a large 2.5 pound cone. If you are curious to work with this thread, I recommend buying the sample pack for $30.

Thread Specs
Resistance: ~ 14 ohms/foot
Thread Weight: Thick
Manufacturer: = Shieldex
Quantity: 2.5 pound Cone
Where to Buy: $24.11 for 1 ounce spool @ Silverell

Thread Analysis
Bobbin thread= yes
Top Thread = no
Hand Stitch = yes
Fraying = light
Resistance = Low


235/34 2 Ply HC Conductive Silver Thread

ConductiveThread_235/34 Conductive SilverThread


This is another excellent overall thread with low resistance and light fraying. The thread is also fine.

Thread Specs
Resistance: ~ 30 ohms/foot
Thread Weight: Fine
Manufacturer: = Shieldex
Quantity: 2 pound Cone
Where to Buy:
$13 @ Soft-circuit.com

$5 sample also available @ Soft-circuit.com

$779.75 for 2lb spool @ Silverell


Thread Analysis
Bobbin thread= yes
Top Thread = yes
Hand Stitch = yes
Fraying = light
Resistance = Low


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Comment by elizabeth jackson on December 11, 2010 at 5:35pm

I want to you conductive thread on a pair of gloves so my daughter can use her Blackberry without removing them. What thread do you recommend for this project? I don't need much at all.

Comment by umar wahee on July 28, 2010 at 1:34am
hello i m from pakistan. i want to work with these threads but its coslty for me.IS there any ohter alternate ? i love to work with E-textile
Comment by Syuzi on February 26, 2010 at 10:56am
Yes they are. The thread from Sparkfun & Silverell is Shieldex Sewing Thread. Prices just went up to bc of cost of silver.
Comment by Peter Hanley on February 26, 2010 at 10:35am
Sparkfun's page for the 234/34 x 4ply states: "We have worked with our supplier to change how to thread is manufactured to decrease the fray-resistance. This new thread is more expensive but the quality and the fray-resistance has increased significantly. Now you can worry less about short circuits and worry more about your project."

They seem to have a similar price now to Silverell - given that both vendors use Shieldex thread, is it possible that the two are selling the same thread at this point?
Comment by Syuzi on February 7, 2010 at 11:53pm
For those of you who are intersted in sample of the Lame Lifesaver Conductive thread, you can purchase a sample here.
Comment by Nikola Delikatesla on January 6, 2010 at 5:34am
Answered my own question. Silver tarnishes when it reacts with sulfer; the tarnish affects only the silver itself and not the surrounding area.

The discoloration I noticed was actually due to a thin layer of oil on my conductive thread. I don't know if all conductive thread has this or not, but if anyone else has the same problem you can wipe the spool with a soft cloth dipped in alcohol to remove some of this oil.
Comment by Nikola Delikatesla on December 31, 2009 at 11:21am
This is really helpful, thanks. I'm a total beginner so this type of information is invaluable! I have a question, however. Are all conductive threads made with silver? It seems like from a conservation standpoint, the tarnishing of the silver is going to ruin your piece unless it was black to begin with. Have you had problems with this?
Comment by Syuzi on December 31, 2009 at 9:52am
WIlliam, I would purchase the thread from Lame Lifesaver. It is available in smaller spools and least prone to fraying. If you only need a small quantity, I am happy to mail you 10ft sample for $5. Just email me.
Comment by William on December 31, 2009 at 1:28am
I am looking for a good conductive thread to sew into the tips of my motorcycle gloves as I have a touch screen phone and cannot operate it while wearing said gloves. Which would be best for that?
Comment by Syuzi on May 11, 2009 at 10:10pm
I haven't tested all threads in the wash unfortunately. Perhaps I can make it a weekend project. I know that all the silver threads do oxidize simply by sitting on my shelf. Every time I open a new spool the resistance is much lower than that of a spool that has been sitting around for 6 months or longer.

I will try to get a hold of the Statex thread as well.

BTW, thanks for the embroidery tip. I'm sure everyone will find it rather helpful.




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