Hello, everyone. Thanks for all the kudos and clicks from all the blogs out there that are linking here. This instructable shows off the laser-cut wedding dress I designed and made. I wanted to tell the story of why I made it and show off pictures that I hope will inspire you in your own projects.
This instructable doesn't contain too many details of the dress-making itself, because that's up to you - this Instructable is about the laser-cut detail. So here are lots of inspirational pictures, my vector files, and not too many words.
Check out more of my custom dress-making at http://www.jessicahinel.com
Step 1: Design a Dress
Every dress starts with some inspiration and a sketch. This is where a lot of ideas are quickly tried out. It's a great way to begin getting concrete feedback from the person your designing for. In this case, the bride got to see a lot of photos of existing dresses, to see how she felt about different aspects of their designs.
Somewhere in this process, it occurred to us that the sharp crisp lines that laser-cut fabric would have would look great on the lean lines and clean profiles of the dresses the bride was favoring. So, I began to explore this idea in the sketches. As the drawings progressed, I created more finished images and began laying out the laser-cut design. You can see one of the final sketches, below, and some of the other dresses that served as inspiration.
Step 2: Sketch the Design You Want to Laser-Cut
Next, I sketched out the laser-cut design in greater detail. The pencil sketch is below, along with some images that were inspiration for the design. The third photo is actually a piece of artwork from the bride's home. It's one of her favorites, so I pulled a lot of its shapes and rhythm into the sketch.
Step 3: Convert Design to Vector Graphic
Cutting outlines means using vector graphics, so the design was then transferred into Adobe Illustrator. A free drawing tool would have worked, too. The design was refined once it was in Illustrator to make some shapes more symmetric and geometric and to smooth out a lot of the curves.
I've attached some of the files below, in case these designs interest you!
Step 4: Measure and Line Up Graphic on Fabric
Because the laser cutter was only so large, we had to cut only small portions of the design at a time. This required a lot of work planning out precise rectangles that matched up to the size of the laser cutter's bed. WIthin each was one set of cuts that I would make, and then I carefully measured that position on the fabric itself.
Step 5: Create Frame for Fabric
Each rectangle that we worked in on the dress fabric needed to be supported off the bed of the laser cutter. The reason for this is that laser-cutting fabric generates some smoke, and if the smoke gets trapped between a flat surface (the laser cutter bed) and the fabric itself, it can discolor the fabric. Not good for the pure white silk of a wedding dress!
This frame was the solution we ended up with. It supported the fabric reasonable well (We pinned it taut across the top) and allowed us to position the fabric precisely within the laser cutter.
Step 6: Laser-Cut the Fabric
Laser cutting! I used a 75w Epilog Legend. Suffice it to say that watching robotically precise pieces of your design magically appear in the fabric is really neat. I'll let the videos speak for themselves.
Step 7: Clean Up Cuts
We did have to loosen some final bits with a razor blade. Other parts of the design were a bit too loose, structurally, so I shored them up with tiny, carefully cut pieces of fabric backing that I ironed on.
Step 8: Sew Fabric and Finish Dress
This is a huge step, obviously, but it'll be for another instructable, someday. Below are a couple snapshots of the dress in progress at my workshop.
Step 9: Admire Your Work
Step 10: Get Married!
Here are some photos from the actual wedding, also from Alison Bank (http://firstcomesloveweddings.com/).