Sew Electric began as a joint project between MIT researchers and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). We wanted to find new ways to introduce girls to computing. By combining craft, computer science, and electronics we found that we can consistently get girls (and boys) excited about these topics. And, they learn how to sew, write programs, and design circuits along the way!

The projects in Sew Electric were developed over several years of teaching, observing, and testing. Many young people and educators spent their weekends and afternoons building projects and giving us feedback that we used to make our materials more useful and fun. We hope you enjoy the result! If you have any feedback, we’d love to hear from you too!

_mosterPortraits-002  _mosterPortraits  _fabricPianoPortraits


Leah Buechley, Author
Leah Buechley is a designer, engineer, educator, and former MIT professor. Until 2013, she directed the high-low tech research group at the MIT Media Lab. Her work focuses on blending technology with art and design and creating tools that enable people to make technology for themselves. She is the developer of the LilyPad Arduino kit along with tools and techniques for combining electronics with paper, fabric and other materials. Her work has been exhibited around the world and featured in publications including The New York Times, Boston Globe, Popular Science, and Wired. Leah received a PhD in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a BA in physics from Skidmore College. At both institutions she also studied dance, theater, fine art, and design.

Kanjun Qiu, Author
Kanjun Qiu sews, knits, spins sheep wool into yarn, and codes. She is an advocate for enabling nontraditional communities to build technology, and spoke at MIT TIMTalks on expanding the culture of computer science to allow more diverse populations to see themselves as creators of technology. In her thesis research at the MIT Media Lab, she studied how creating e-textile projects positively impacted students’ confidence with programming and building electronics. She currently works on the BizOps team at Dropbox, doing a combination of engineering, product management, and data analysis. Kanjun received her BS and MNG degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, where she also competed in ballroom dance, did algorithmic trading, and ran a yarn business.

Sonja de Boer, Illustrator and Designer
Sonja de Boer has a multidisciplinary background in fashion technology and illustration design. Over the past seven years she has worked as an independent illustrator and designer in Tokyo, Amsterdam and Cambridge/Boston. In this period she developed her personal Sonnebon style and created artworks for advertisement agencies, clothing brands, interior architects, magazines, digital platforms and most recently for the High-Low Tech research group at the MIT Media Lab. In 2003 Sonja started her career as the interior and fashion editor of the largest woman’s weekly magazine in The Netherlands, Libelle. In 2006 she returned to her love for designing and worked as a textile-print designer for the famous children’s apparel brand Oilily. With her hybrid background, illustration design for Sew Electric has been a true joy. Sonja holds a BA in Fashion Technology from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) with a specialization in multifunctional clothing designs including electronic textiles.

Tayo Falase, Editorial and Technical Assistant
Tayo Falase loves everything about arts and crafts. Her hobbies include drawing, painting, and animating. She also sells handmade jewelry and accessories on In her freshman and sophomore years of college, she worked with the High-Low Tech group at MIT’s Media Lab, where she learned to combine her love for art with electronics. While there, she worked with the Lilypad Arduino to make e-textile creations, such as an interactive song-playing and LED-flashing wall decoration. She also participated in a project to create fabric connectors for Lilypad Arduino circuits. Tayo received her BS in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT, where she was also involved with the campus radio station. She currently works for Oracle, building servers with the SPARC team.


cc   by   nc   sa
Copyright © 2013 Leah Buechley, Kanjun Qiu, and Sonja de Boer
Some rights reserved

Copyright under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. You are free to Share the work (to copy, distribute, and transmit it) and to Remix the work (to adapt it) under the following conditions: You must attribute the work to Leah Buechley, Kanjun Qiu, and Sonja de Boer (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work); You may not use this work for commercial purposes; If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.


See what’s happening in the Sew Electric world and get inspired by pictures from other Sew Electric crafters on our Facebook page. Join our mailing list to receive announcements about workshops, book updates, and other events.