How to Make an Amazing Dress Where Math is the New Black #WearableWednesday @nliang #wearabletech

Math Dress

This gorgeous dress proves that you can be the best dressed geek in the room. Nancy Yi Liang uses an ArcSin program to create the curvy lines of the black fabric overlay, making math the star. Here’s the dets on the programs, thanks to Hackaday, that went into designing the dress from sketch, to render, to real thing.

ArcSin Model

Usually dressmakers use a mannequin that has been adjusted to approximate the size of the client. However, mannequins are pricey and take up a lot of room. Nancy uses Make Human which is a 3D modeling software that reminds me of making avatars in Second Life. You just need to use a measuring tape to get your dimensions and then input them into the program.

ArcSin Marv Designer

Next she imports her avatar into Marvelous Designer, which allows her to create the sample dress pattern. The program has interesting features including cloth simulation and a heat map to indicate which areas may be too tight or too loose on the pattern. Nancy can definitely attest to the process.

Having made quite a few prototypes, the heat map is surprisingly accurate. It felt tight where the heat map said it would feel tight. It puckered where the render shows puckering.

ArcSin Math

To create the black cutouts she uses Desmos, an on-line graphing calculator. That’s where the arcsin program come into play. She also tweaks further by thickening the lines with image editor Pixelmator. From this image you can really see the pattern coming to life.

ArcSin Blender

The design is then brought into Blender modeling software, which not only allows Nancy to check how the print is laying over her pattern, but also shows a nice rendering of what the finished dress will look like.


OK, almost there! The pattern is then brought into Inkscape to crunch the vector files needed for lasercutting. With those files in hand she is off to her maker space! This is probably the most exciting step in the process.


The final step is the stitching, but after all the previous design programs, this seems like the easiest part. Check out Nancy modeling the dress that she says, “fits like a glove.” It’s hard to imagine something that fits perfectly when you try it on these days. In fact, I think I would be pretty giddy walking around if this was my dress! If you want to give this process a try, definitely check out Nancy’s site as she gives a lot of detail.

As you can see, there are so many directions to explore with wearables. If you want to find out about more techniques including embedding electronics, check out Kate Hartman’s Make: Wearable Electronics book. It will you inspire you to connect your projects to the environment. Imagine how lasercutting can combine with illumination or shape shifting!


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