Laser-Cut Wedding Dress and Vest

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Intro: Laser-Cut Wedding Dress and Vest

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

It turned out beautifully! Thanks for these photos from Alison Bank, who takes amazing wedding photos: http://firstcomesloveweddings.com/.
 

Step 10: Get Married!

Here are some photos from the actual wedding, also from Alison Bank (http://firstcomesloveweddings.com/).

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    39 Discussions

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    Panfila

    3 years ago

    Hi Jess, I love this design & dress! Do you still have the vector drawing for this? I can't find the files on the instructable :( Thanks!

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    elfka

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm sure I need laser cutter now. Beautiful!

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    sabu.dawdy

    6 years ago on Introduction

    beauty... your wife is beautiful.. and well you made the dress perfect for her :)

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    BamaBob

    6 years ago on Step 9

    Thank GOD I'm already married. If my wife saw this BEFORE we married . . . . You'd be a getting a call to make another dress! Fine job!

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    sioux gardner

    7 years ago on Step 8

    love your creation - thanks for sharing - I'm inspired!
    can you tell me

    does the laser 'seal' the cut edges and prevent fraying, or have you any other solution?
    Is the dress lined in black - or is it simply left to hang?

    WOW!

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    bicycletechnocrat

    8 years ago on Step 10

    Wow! Stunning! This Dress is wunderful - and it even has got a slight nerdy touch through the CNC-lasers involved ;-). This can't get any better!

    Also your bride is realy beautyful!

    Thanks for sharing this project :-).

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    Broom

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work. Great idea.

    Why didn't you starch and/or iron the silk before cutting? (There's soft creases visible under the cutter head.) Starch is easy to soak out, and ironing of course is harmless enough, if you set the temperature carefully.

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    caitlinsdad

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice. Is this real organic silk or something synthetic?  I would guess the laser singes and binds the cut edge whereas some other material would need to be sized to keep it from fraying.

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    jess17acaitlinsdad

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    i used a 35% silk/65% rayon blend.  silk and other fabrics made of protein, like rayon, produces a nice cut edge especially at a higher power setting on the laser cutter.  synthetics like acrylic and polyester also work and will have a edge that resists fraying at a much lower power setting.

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    misstinabunnijess17a

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Rayon is a cellulosic fiber, it's usually made from wood byproducts (sawdust or maybe bamboo). Keratin fibers (hair) and other animal serum fibers (silks, spiderwebs I suppose) are the only protein based fibers, as most natural proteins come from animals.

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    rens

    8 years ago on Step 9

    thanks for that...what a stunning dress.  can you tell me how you stop the fabric from fraying once it's been laser cut.

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    fantasia1940

    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is an incredible, wonderful dres!! :) so inspirational and a great idea of resourcefulness.  I'm really curious about the laser cutter that you had access to - I know these are dangerous and highly regulated.  Is this personally owned?  Or does it belong to a business or university?

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    rattyrainfantasia1940

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I can see from one of the pictures that he is using an Epilog laser cutter.  I heard they are the best consumer-end laser cutters for the money, and are relatively safe.