Laser cut clothing is all over runways and fashion blogs so I (obviously) wanted a laser cut dress, too. And, because I have way more making impulse than shopping impulse I didn't even consider buying a dress when I knew I could make one. The hardest part of this dress is learning how to design vectors well if you haven't before. If you already work with vectors then the hardest part will be settling on a design.
Step 1: Supplies and Equipment
Satin - about a yard
Cotton Jersey - one oversized t-shirt of 1 to 2 yards, depending on how long you like your dresses
Satin Ribbon - 3-4 yards of 1 7/8" wide
Sewing Thread - match the colors, but I shouldn't have to tell you that
Sewing basics - scissors, chalk, pins, etc
Sewing machine - ideally this will have a stretch stitch, otherwise use a narrow zig-zag
Laser - join a fab lab/tech shop, find a laser cutting service, make friends with a laser owner or I guess you could pick one up at your nearest laser store
Computer with vector friendly software - Illustrator is my first choice, Inkscape works well and is open source (free)
Some notes about fabric choices:
Because I was planning to use a laser on this dress materials selection became a priority. I love silk, cotton and wool as much as anyone, but natural fibers burn when lasered and fray easily afterward. Vinyl releases chlorine gas when cut with a laser which is probably bad for humans and definitely bad for the lenses in a laser unless it has special ventilation set up.
This left me with polyester as my first choice. When you cut it with a laser the edges melt and leave you with a fray resistant edge. It also comes in a huge variety of colors - I chose a pretty shade of coral. That said, I wanted a dress I could throw on to go out on a summer evening and I'm not a fan of wrapping myself in layers of plastic when it's warm.
I decided to make the dress itself from cotton jersey and use the polyester as cap sleeves and a belt. It's the best of both worlds - the cotton is soft and matte in finish, the satin adds a little sparkly formality without having to feel like I'm wearing a disco ball. Because the fabric stores I frequent seem to be avoiding stocking jersey at all costs and I really don't like the way interlock wears I opted to pick up a plain black very oversized t-shirt. Go for a good brand, the quality of the fabric will be a lot nicer. Also pre-wash it, failure to do this may result in a dress that is embarrassingly short after it's been washed.