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The inspiration for this dress followed the first time I saw this fiberoptic product in action. I was at a festival when I saw a bloom of fiber optic jellyfish approach, and they created such a beautiful effect that I knew I had to turn the concept into something wearable. I'd been wanting to incorporate fiber optics into fashion for a while, but this made it clear what I wanted to use and how.

The fiber optics are from Ants on a Melon, and the awesome photos were taken by audreyobsura. Many thanks to both of you for all the help along the way!

 
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Step 1: The Design

Picture of The Design
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The design of the dress followed the fiber optics that it needed to support. As there is one central light source, I designed the back to include a pouch for the handle, and the straps of the dress to bring the fiber optics from the center back to the front, and back around the body to an even distribution at the hips.

A big design challenge was how to give the filaments enough lift at the skirt, as I wanted the skirt to push them out at as near to a 90 degree angle as possible. I was considering things like a fully boned structure or 3D printing small pieces for each group of filaments to angle them out at a perfect right angle. However in the end I just went low tech and stuffed the skirt with tutus :) I'd still like to explore these other two options eventually.

Be warned that this Instructable includes a major fail at one point, so read the whole thing first if you intend to make this. I ended up designing the dress and fiber optic design in different parts of my mind, and put the zipper on the side not thinking about the fact that once the fiber optics were sewn down, I couldn't open it! What I was thinking, I have no idea (I wasn't). But as recovering from major errors is an integral part of making, I included this saga in the Instructable.

I chose to make this dress from scratch to dust off my fashion skills, but you could definitely make something very similar by buying a V-neck dress with a circle skirt and skipping to step 13.

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KatieR718 days ago

I loved this dress and tutorial, thanks for sharing! I'm interested in making one of my own, and I know you had put in the initial tutorial about wanting to hook the whip up to a stronger battery source? Do you have any recommendations for doing so? I would be making it for a festival in October and would like for the whip to stay lit majority of the festival, I just don't want to constantly keep switching out batteries. Thanks!

Natalina (author)  KatieR718 days ago

I did end up wiring in a larger battery! I should really write a step dedicated to it, but the photos I took weren't very clear. I ended up getting a much larger lipo battery, soldered wires directly to the battery holder inside the handle and ran them out through the hole that already existed in the bottom, and then attached a jst to those to connect to the battery pack. I made a pouch in my tutu for the battery to live, and kept the wires long so nothing would tug. Because of the hidden placement I connect that jst every time I put on the dress, so I would recommend using something easier to connect than a jst. That aside the hack works great and this battery lasts all night easy! The duration totally depends on what color mode you are on, but you could even size up to this one if you want even more juice.

Be sure to post an "I Made It" comment when you're done, I'd love to see it!

Ah ok, thank you!! I'm super excited to make this dress, so I'll definitely upload photos once I have it completed!
Natalina (author)  KatieR716 days ago

Great! Have fun and looking forward to seeing it!

animeguard1 month ago

beautiful, great idea

OliviaH13 months ago

I wonder if you could make this but with a longer dress.... someone let me know if you do it woith a longer one and it works!

Luziviech3 months ago

fiber-whip, huh? if you want to improve things, check this out:

http://www.wiedamark.com/fiberopticsparklecable.aspx

SimpleAsPi11 months ago

Thank you so much for making this Instructable! Your descriptions and photos are spot-on and helped me get over my fear of making my first dress - from scratch! I can't wait to add fiber optics and awesome lights. I don't have a fiber optic flashlight, so I was going to make a DIY version. I was wondering, if you were making another dress, would you use the same number of strands again, or more or fewer?

Natalina (author)  SimpleAsPi11 months ago

Horray for making your first dress from scratch! As for strands, I am quite happy with how many there were (360). Any more and they would have barely fit over my shoulders in any elegant fashion. Fewer would have looked thin by the bottom. Take care with choosing the thickness of the fibers. The product I used has a great weight, it is thick enough that it has some body to it and isn't very fragile, but isn't so thick that it is difficult to work with. Good luck, and I'd love to see what you come up with!

SimpleAsPi made it! Natalina11 months ago

Using 360 strands worked just perfectly! Also, I have a newfound respect for your patience now after sewing on ALL those fibers. I can't express enough gratitude for your Instructable's guidance (especially detailed photos like where to place the pins and stitches to hold the fibers for sewing).

After all that work, the end results are totally worth it. I couldn't be happier with how my dress turned out. In my DIY lighting version, I ended up using NeoPixels to illuminate the fibers, with two laser-cut acrylic holders securing all the bundles. I have an Adafruit Gemma controlling the LEDs so I can program different lighting patterns, and a 12V battery powering it all. The skirt makes a perfect hiding spot for the electronics.

I'm totally excited to wear mine at Burning Man next week! Will you be there with yours?

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Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about how you attached the filaments to the neopixels--maybe a drawing of these acrylic holders you made? I am looking to go the same route (w/ the flora or gemma) but don't know how I'm going to attach the filaments to the flat neopixel. Usually I'd use an ultra bright LED bulb and clear tubing, obvs. that won't work with the neopixel.

Looks great BTW! Haven't used neopixel yet and was concerned it wouldn't be bright enough. Your photos but my mind at ease there!

Hi Mareekayte,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! I'm happy to share the file with you that I used to make the adapter for the NeoPixels and fiber optics. Send me an email at LEDspacehelmets@gmail.com and I'll send it to you (since I don't see a way to attach files in the comments).

It is Adobe Illustrator format, which many laser cutters can interpret. Please feel free to modify the file as you find necessary. Best of luck, and if you want to share, I'm excited to see what you come up with!

MarieH2 SimpleAsPi10 months ago

Where did you get the fiber? Any tips on attaching them? Thanks!

SimpleAsPi MarieH210 months ago

Hi Marie! I bought these fibers from Ebay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/DIY-bundle-endglow-PS-fibe...). I needed 2 sets, 200 strands each, 0.75mm diameter. Starting at the back of the dress, the fibers are in bundles of 20 each, and then they're divided into bundles of 10 starting at the shoulders. I made each group of 20 fibers by placing the strands side-by-side on the sticky side of a piece of packing tape, then rolling it up tightly. Then I trimmed the ends so they're all even. The LEDs and fibers are held in place using a laser-cut acrylic adapter that I designed (I'm happy to share the Illustrator files for it). Finally, to sew all the fibers to the dress, I followed Natalie's excellent instructions. Best of luck, and have fun!

Natalina (author)  SimpleAsPi11 months ago

That turned out so awesome!! I'm new to electronics, but using neopixels is the next thing I wanted to try, but was struggling with how to attach the fibers to the strip. Thanks for sharing photos of the back, I'm excited to explore this method! I may pick your brain more when I get to the next iteration :)

I'm taking this year off of burning man, but you can rock the dress in my stead! Have a great time!

vd863 months ago

hi! thank you for this beautiful design. I made the whole thing but when im trimming the fibers (last part) they are starting to look super messy (they keep bending to the sides and looks kinda like the dresses in the pictures other ppl posted in the comments). This could have happened because i rolled them up while i was sewing them to the dress. i would like that they look like yours, all kinda going straight to the bottom with slight curves where they are cut.

How did u achieve this?

Natalina (author)  vd863 months ago

I'm so happy you have made the whole thing! Be sure to post an "I Made It" comment when you are done!

In answer to your question, I luckily didn't run into trouble with that. The fibers do maintain curl if they are stored that way, so it's possible that you introduced extra curl that will relax out over time. It might even be possible now that they are all sewn down to put them in "curlers" to introduce the desired curve direction you want, although I have no idea how successful this would be. I would use something with a large circumference so as not to make the problem worse. You could also introduce heat but be VERY CAREFUL as that can ruin the fibers, test it first. The fibers also look better the more lift they have at the skirt, since then gravity can do more of the work for you. Let me know if any of these ideas help you with your problem, I'm sure you are not the first to run into this challenge.

What sort of fiber optics did you use and where did you get them from? (Please <3)

In the article she says that the "fiber optics are from ants on a melon."
There wasn't a specific type mentioned but where she got them from was.
Natalina (author)  mamapandas3 months ago

Yep, look at steps 2 and 3. The link in step 2 is the exact product you want.

Which I just went into the actual instructions and she mentions untrimmed ones. You may want to go check the first part of the steps, that's where I found it. Good luck
mcr74 months ago

I think what you've created is absolutely awesome!!!

So I bought the 360 fiberoptic whip from Ants on a Melon, and found a turquoise/aqua blue A-line dress from Macy's. It doesn't have a v-neck, and the zipper goes up the back. I'm making the dress for the Mad Scientists Ball at Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center, where I will be working the ball, serving drinks. The theme is Monsters, Myths, and Legends, and my area (Science Corner) is the Mythological Creatures section. I'm not sure what mythological creature I'll be, LOL, but I got a tiara, fishnet aqua fingerless gloves, and white go-go boots from ellieshoes. Oh and a tiara. I think I'll go as "Princess Awesome".

Anyway, we have several 3D printers. I'm just wondering how I could integrate 3D printed object to help form the dress. Maybe give it some lift at the skirt, but what would I make and how would I hold it down? Also, the back is fairly high, and scooped, like the front. Not sure where exactly I'd put the handle. I love the garter belt idea for holding things down, but if I put the handle there, it would be weird because that's where the bundle of lights starts. The dress has 23 or so inch-wide strips, like flat pleats, where I intend to sew down the fibers.

Any suggestions are welcome!

Natalina (author)  heather.kleinerhancock5 months ago

Generally I would still recommend putting the handle in the center back, as it has to be along the zipper or below it for you to get in and out of the dress. I wouldn't recommend a garter, because the motion of walking would pull and push the fibers out of place. I'm not sure how wide the a-line is, but you could potentially put the handle under the dress as part of a tutu/petticoat underlayer, space permitting.

As for 3d printing, one of the things I thought about was making essentially elbow macaroni with sew holes for the fiber bundles to pass through at the waist, in order to direct them outwards without weighing down the skirt. There are a lot of things you could experiment with in terms of form, since the shape formed by the fibers and the shape of the dress don't necessarily need to match.

Be sure to post photos when you are done - I'd love to see it!

KarinaL15 months ago

Ok so I got the lights and the dress but the dress does not have a zipper but it criss crosses with a ribbon in the back. I am having difficulty in figuring out how to put on and take off the dress once the fiber optic is sewn on? It needs to expand in order for my daughter to get out of the dress. Please help..

Natalina (author)  KarinaL15 months ago

Anywhere the fiber optics are sewn to will not be expandable, so I'd either make a pocket for it that hangs over the criss cross, or figure out a place to embed it under the skirt and make a hole for the fibers to pass through to the back of the dress.

MikaelaHolmes made it!8 months ago

Thank you for the incredible inspiration! My version was made as a wedding dress for a wedding on the playa this year. The Bride saw your dress and wanted something similar. I used the double ended version of the whip to embellish an existing dress (to which I also added a shoulder piece). The whip is hidden in under the flowers of the skirt at the back. The light of the strands diffused really nicely through these organza flowers, giving the whole skirt a glow. I eventually ended up wiring my whip to a larger Lithium ion battery by drilling a hole in the bottom of the whip and running wire out from the existing battery connector. Photos by heptic.net

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emlewin made it!8 months ago
Thank you so much for this!! I followed your instructions and the dresses turned out amazing! Your dress idea was so incredible, I can sew, but chose to just find dresses that would work. I really like working with this better than the el wires
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Natalina (author)  emlewin8 months ago

These turned out great! Thanks so much for posting these photos!

karina9080510 months ago

OMG This is beautiful!! I would like this for my daughter's Sweet 16 dress...it's perfect for her glow in the dark theme!! Plus her dress is like Cinderella (Quinceanera style) and the fibers dangling will lay nicely...Love Love Love this!! and I know she would too. Unfortunately, I don't sew, I make beaded jewelry lol. Nowadays, it's hard finding a seamstress in my area :(((( So sad. I'm open for any suggestions, if u have any. Her party is until March 2015. Please help. Below are 2 dresses she had picked out but would be amazing right??

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Natalina (author)  karina9080510 months ago

You can always buy the fiberoptics and hand sew them to your dress of choice, no real sewing experience required, just a lot of patience :) It wouldn't have the same silhouette, but in the dark you would get a similar effect.

Yeah true but I don't wanna mess it up lol. I was thinking having the fiber optic along the edges of the bust line all around and that v shape around the waist (of purple dress) and let the rest of the lighting dangle like your dress. Would that look okay?? Dress will be white of course.

Natalina (author)  karina908058 months ago

I'm sure whatever you do will turn out great, and no need for a white dress necessarily!

Hello,
I don't know if this will help but I make wedding dresses. I am not able to see the pictures of the dresses your daughter has picked out but please reach out to me on Facebook under John Roberts Bridal. We may be able to help you out. :-)
Thank you,
Johnathan P.
John Roberts Bridal

contact your local fabric store. They can give you names of seamstresses. There may even be one that works there.

Jetpack59 months ago

Beautiful! I'll remember for when my daughter is younger.

This is so amazing. I do not sew. When I saw this I said to myself, what a gifted person. I read down through your story and was very impressed. You have blessed hands and to share this with others so they can create their own is wonderful. I keep replaying the video because it is magical. Keep up your fabulous work. Wish I could sew, if I could I would make something like this for my great nieces when they turn 5 so they could look like angels.

roprish9 months ago

Is a white dress a must? Would it work on a black dress?

Natalina (author)  roprish9 months ago

I think it would work fine on any color dress. I chose white because it is more visible at night, and provides a good backdrop for the light coming from the fiberoptics.

casgrillot10 months ago

Awesome! I had the same idea about a year ago for a fiber optic jellyfish dress. I made sketches and everything, I just didn't have the time/money to invest in it yet. Seeing this dress in action is really inspiring, I can't wait to make my own! ^_^

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