Fiber Optic Dress

Picture of Fiber Optic Dress

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

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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Raquelgal10 hours ago

Hi Natalina! Beautiful dress! When you were sewing the fibre optics to the dress how often did you stitch them down? Did you have a continual running stitch down the length of the fibre optic or did you tie each stitch off?

snowjill2 days ago

This tutorial is amazing and I'm currently in the process of making this dress for a costume party. I did want to ask though how important the boning is to the garment because this is the step I appear to have glossed over. The bodice is double layered and form fitted so I'm hoping it will still be ok but definitely wanted to reach out for your opinion and what the boning did for your garment once completed.

Thanks again for making this tutorial! So helpful.

Natalina (author)  snowjill16 hours ago

I don't think the boning is a must, but I preferred it for this application as it gave some additional structure so the fibers could be sewn down to something that was more static in shape. Without it the fabric will bunch and move more while it's on, which can make the fibers pull and push out of their channel more. As it is, I still need to tug the fibers back down periodically, as depending on how I'm moving certain areas of fibers will want to move upwards and will stick up a little at the shoulder. Hope that makes sense, it's a somewhat difficult phenomena to explain.

I'm excited you are making the dress! Be sure to post some photos when you are finished, I look forward to seeing the finished product!

hot cat3 days ago


tatartt16 days ago

This is wonderful idea.The fiber optic system is very fantastic and useful, if you want to meet the eye.Congralutions :)

callmebessy21 days ago
Hi, i love the dress and I was thinking about making a dress like this for prom (I'll have to figure something different out with the battery issue) but I was wondering if you knew how I could make a fiber optic tie for my date or where I could find something along those same lines? Thanks :)
Natalina (author)  callmebessy20 days ago

A few ideas would be an led tie like this instructable, or you could just get a glowby and sew the strands down to a tie for a super cheap and easy touch of fiberoptics. Good luck!

fairysaddle2 months ago

also, are the fibers comfortable to wear? The kidlets won't tolerate them if they are pokey.

Natalina (author)  fairysaddle1 month ago

The fibers aren't pokey. If you attached the fibers to a comfortable garment to start with, it would be fine.

Thank you for the replies. You rock! :)
fairysaddle2 months ago

Stunning! How durable are the fibers? I'm kind of fed up with making my kids awesome light-up Halloween costumes only to have them destroyed in one day. Usually by kinking the el wire/led strands/wires when sitting at school on costume day. Can you sit in it without breaking the fibers?

Natalina (author)  fairysaddle1 month ago

Pretty durable, I've stepped on the fibers going up the stairs which yanks them really hard and only one has come lose so far, and none have kinked or broken from sitting. That said nothing is indestructible, and I wear it with care as I don't want to damage it.

aallison22 months ago
This is the most stunning article of clothing I've ever seen. I know this is a place to help people make their own things, but is there any way you'd consider making another to sell based on someone's measurements?
Feynmaniac2 months ago

This is awesome ! Thank you for this great 'ible :)

psavas3 months ago


This is wonderful and beautiful!

A couple thoughts crossed my mind as I read through the 'ible and the comments:

* Regarding the battery problem, have you looked into converting the kinetic energy from body movement into electrical energy to recharge the battery? My old brain remembers reading somewhere it was possible...

* How 'bout integrating a Raspberry Pi or Arduino into the mix so the fiber optics could be programmed to respond to music like the light-up electronic t-shirts do? You could have certain colors correspond to certain frequencies, have the color changes follow the tempo of the music, etc...

This has got me thinking about making a vest of some-sort, possibly out of silver lame to heighten the reflectivity of the optics... hmmmm....

Awesome job!

StarwarsChick3 months ago

that dress is beautiful!

Ajriam3 months ago

wow it's very Nice thanks :)

drowe20113 months ago

i want this dresss but its so complicated to make but i love it

Natalina (author)  drowe20113 months ago

You can definitely make the same type of thing without making the dress itself, which cuts out 80% of the work! Start with something simple like this from american apparel and mod it from there.

Gemini19703 months ago

Hello Natalina, this is really a great and fantastic piece of art. Who would have thought of what is possible with a dress and some "plastic". I regularly have a look here just to see what is possible with some imagination (and lots of skills).

Can you perhaps tell us some of your experience when you were wearing it?

Natalina (author)  Gemini19703 months ago

Wearing it is a ton of fun! The fiber optic whip I used comes with tons of different colors/programs that are highlighted by movement (for example rainbow trails created by a subtle multicolor strobe), which make it really fun to spin around and dance with it.

sitearm3 months ago

@Natalina; Hi! Nice work, I've shared your video on Twitter; Cheers! : ) Sitearm

Natalina (author)  sitearm3 months ago


solpredator3 months ago

I liked this very much and shared it with my teen daughter. She asked the most obvious question (which is why I didn't think of it!) "So, how does she wash it?"

Great Ible!!!

tovey solpredator3 months ago

The safest way is to hand wash this dress.

In a machine with an agitator, the fiber optics could get caught in the agitator and break.

In a barrel machine, they could get tangled up with each other.

One could of course, use something to tie the optics together in a single strand so that they are not uncontrolled.

Either way, one would need to remove the battery pack. The piece that holds the fiber optics to the light may rust if it is made from metal, but that is likely the only other issue in washing this dress.

solpredator tovey3 months ago

:) Thank you!

Natalina (author)  tovey3 months ago

Yep, hand wash. The electronics detach and the fiberoptic cables are just plastic, so there's no worry of corrosion like with soft circuits.

Zanaji tovey3 months ago

definitely hand wash and line dry.





And in person, probably hilarious.

Thank you.

I forgot flattering.

this is aweosme! what an idea to make a wonderful dress :)
msweigart3 months ago

I will be making a similar dress this week for my daughter for the Father/Daughter Dance!

Natalina (author)  msweigart3 months ago

Awesome! Share it in the comments when you're done, would love to see it!

sgahagan3 months ago

I love it.

jgroenert3 months ago

Beautiful integration of tech with body shape. Well done

legamin3 months ago

Wow! I just finished reading every word and absorbing the images. You are amazing! As I was reading along my mind was racing (my heart too). I kept thinking things like: "what if she used a thermoplastic support where she wanted it to flair out, using the totos for softness in structure?" And "what if a second battery could be placed up under that thermoplastic shell that could be switched over to using a clear plastic sliding switch?" Or "What if this dress were made from form fitted panels of beech wood bent to perfectly conform to the wearer and then softened and highlighted with a satin?" And "Would TWO sets of optics make this even more spectacular giving a girl at her prom that ultimate Cinderella moment?" Then my brain melted into a puddle requiring me to start writing ideas down to be tried. But you can be sure that this instructable was not wasted but rather fired off neurons I never thought I had! Thank you!

Natalina (author)  legamin3 months ago

Wow, I'm so glad I inspired such a great brainstorming session! You're welcome!

Kiteman3 months ago

That's awesome.

How effective is it in lit areas, though?

Natalina (author)  Kiteman3 months ago

It needs to be dark to be effective. But it's intended for parties and dimly lit events :)

lawsonuw Natalina3 months ago

Better optics and or a brighter light source will fix that. :-) You could also experiment with lightly sanding the fiber-optics where you want more light to leak out. The photos make it look like most of the light is emitted from the fiber tip.

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