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!

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

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.

1-40 of 90Next »
PHIVO9 days ago

Wauw, this is what future clothing looks like. So nice that you are willing to share this amazing concept. Thanks!

SimpleAsPi1 month 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)  SimpleAsPi1 month 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! Natalina25 days 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?

Natalina (author)  SimpleAsPi24 days 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!

Raquelgal1 month 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?

Natalina (author)  Raquelgal1 month ago

I had a combination of both. I started with a line of stitching at the top and front shoulder a few inches apart that held all the fibers down, and once they started to separate I used a continual running stitch from the front shoulder to the waist on each bundle of fibers. I think things would have still looked good if I only stitched them down every few inches, but I wanted to keep the inside clean.

Awesome! Thank you Natalina!

snowjill1 month 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)  snowjill1 month 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 cat1 month ago


tatartt2 months ago

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

callmebessy2 months 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)  callmebessy2 months 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!

fairysaddle3 months ago

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

Natalina (author)  fairysaddle3 months 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! :)
fairysaddle3 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)  fairysaddle3 months 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.

aallison23 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?
Feynmaniac4 months ago

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

psavas4 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!

StarwarsChick4 months ago

that dress is beautiful!

Ajriam4 months ago

wow it's very Nice thanks :)

drowe20114 months ago

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

Natalina (author)  drowe20114 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.

Gemini19705 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)  Gemini19705 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.

sitearm5 months ago

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

Natalina (author)  sitearm5 months ago


solpredator5 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 solpredator5 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 tovey5 months ago

:) Thank you!

Natalina (author)  tovey5 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 tovey5 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 :)
msweigart5 months ago

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

Natalina (author)  msweigart5 months ago

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

1-40 of 90Next »