Susanne Perry of Valorose Tutus and Textiles makes the most amazing tutus and supplies materials for others to make their own.
She contacted me because she wanted to create templates for cutting the edges of tutu netting into zig zag or scallop shapes. They were for her to use in her workshops aswell as selling to customers online.
Suzanne had experimented with acrylic, but had found it unsuitable because it’s inflexible and can shatter when dropped. She decided that she needed a material with some flexibility. It would need to bend with the netting during cutting and be tough enough to survive snipping damage.
Selecting the right material
Finding a robust and flexible material thin enough that could be laser cut was a puzzle.
Any thickness of acrylic would have the same problems, especially if 2mm thick or thinner.
Plywood and mdf’s brown laser cut edges could discolour fabric, and thin mdf could possibly be damaged by snipping.
0.8mm polypropylene would just be too thin and floppy for the purpose, and formica is brittle and could snap easily.
After further research, I came across a different polypropylene 2mm thick. It’s not very pretty, but it’s tough, flexible and marketed as being almost indestructable. Perfect. Colour range was very restricted, but this wasn’t a problem. Suzanne was happy if it laser cut well and functioned as she wanted.
Designing the templates
Suzanne wanted two template sizes and sent me pictures with dimensions for the details. Both templates were similar in size, but one had four and the other had five scallops and triangles on each side. She wanted the scallops to be semicircular rather than shallower curves and the zig zags had to keep their shape in the netting.
I made up artwork and Suzanne approved the proofs. Black 2mm polypropylene gave nice results. It comes with a protective film on one side to protect the surface from the heat of the laser, and when it’s been peeled off, the surface and the edges look great.
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