Seamless Seams: Machine sewing shape-changing and colour changing threads

Design Futures


Machine sewing shape-changing and colour changing threads for a new world of interactive possibilities.


We introduce a range of novel techniques to machine sew and physically programme actuating threads/wires.


We were able to successfully machine sew interactive morphological capabilities into textiles.

Traditional crafting methods such as stitching, embroidering, dyeing and machine sewing can be enhanced to create novel techniques for embedding shape-changing and colour changing actuation into soft fabrics.

We show how embedding Shape-Memory Alloy (SMA) wire, copper wire and thermochromic thread into needles and bobbins, we were able to successfully machine sew interactive morphological capabilities into textiles.

We describe the results of extensive design experiments, which detail how differing actuations can be achieved through a matrix of parameters that directly influence a fabric’s deformational behaviours.

We contribute new techniques for creating soft-interfaces, imbued with actuation through tactile and self-morphing capabilities without motors or LEDs. We draw insights from this on the potential of the proposed techniques for crafting interactive artefacts.

This approach broadens the accessibility of technology prototyping and has the potential to enable new previously unrealizable possibilities. For example, it allows any person to sew for themselves a shape-changing garment or make a colour-changing cushion gift without much of the common paraphernalia of digital technology development.

We designed and exhibited a case study evaluated by members of the public, which shows the potential of creating aesthetic artefacts with colour-changing and shape-changing capabilities, crafted in seamless ways, moving beyond intrusive technology and mass produced devices.

Designers and researchers can now use such techniques to create predictable, replicable and scalable rapid prototypes and designs. In addition, this should also inspire crafters and tech-makers to develop “sewing books” of different seamless seams that can change their colours or shapes using various sewing patterns in an array of real-world artefacts.


Seamless Seams: Crafting Techniqutes for Embedding Fabrics with Interactive Actuation

  1. Nabil S
  2. Kucera J
  3. Karastathi N
  4. Kirk D
  5. Wright P
  6. Jan Kučera

20192019 Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS '19)