Anyone dabble in Fabric Laser Engraving?

Just saw laser fabric engraving for shirts and pants and was wondering if anyone has dabbled in it yet? Any good or bad, tips or tricks? Not something I would have ever even thought of! Also something I’d be scared to try before I hear results from anyone else xD Don’t care to burn my house down or mess up my glowforge

Depends on the fabric. Quilter’s cotton or thin material is not going to etch. It will cut. Which is great if that’s what you wanted to do.

Denim, good quality, not too stretchy, will etch, and nicely. If you want to etch denim clothing, even just the fabric if it’s larger than 12x20", you’ll need to figure out a jig to hold it up and allow you to tuck excess fabric under the surface. I used a couple of lengths of L-iron held together with bolts, then used some sheet metal to provide a flat surface. I would slide it inside of pant legs, use clips to hold the fabric taut, lay the whole shebang across the L-irons with the excess folded and pressed under the sheet metal.

I don’t know if it was just my designs or what, but it took over an hour to etch each leg, approx 6"x10".

Since you are etching away the top layer, be aware that the etch portion is going to wear faster. I had 3 pair of jeans etched, and washed each pair approx every 3-4 weeks. They lasted between 9-12 months before the etched portion got too frayed.

Speaking of fraying, you can not guarantee that every pair of jeans will survive etching. I bought a beautiful pair of purple jeans and etched them. They didn’t survive the first wash. I mean the whole etched portion was a mess. The stretchier the denim, the less likely it will survive.

I haven’t done any in at least a year. I needed a specific tool to let me etch over the side seams, and just couldn’t find anything that would work.

Maybe someone else has more experience?


Wow, what awesome advice! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all that! What settings seem to use best for each material? I would expect a low setting? Obviously with each material its going to be different but just in general where do you start for fabric of a t-shirt, vs jeans?

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I had to dig out the settings. I used 15% power, full speed, 1 pass. But GF has made many modifications since I last worked with jeans. As for t-shirt material? Hard pass. I wouldn’t even try it. I never tried using anything other than denim, regular or stretch. And like I said, stretch is going to fail/fray sooner than regular.


Gotcha! Thanks soo much!!

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Search the forum for denim and canvas too, others have posted in the past.


Okay I will for sure! Thanks so much!

I feel stupid, I never realized you could search like that on here xD

Great input on the work with denim & actual finished pants @nospam provided… It’s a cool idea, but indeed will be a limited life span since the laser removes material…

Just keep in mind that since the laser is removing material from whatever fabric you use, it’s how much you’re willing to burn away to get an image vs. how much of the threads remain to maintain the weave and any strength/durability. So the heavier weight the fabric you can get, the more likely you’ll get a good image and still have enough of the threads left for the fabric to remain intact (for longer…).

Commercial garment designers/manufacturers often don’t really care about the life of a garment & expect it to be used only a few times before it’s out of style & you buy the next design. So just because it’s being sold in a store doesn’t mean it’s durable…

Duck cloth, or drop cloth or painter’s canvas may give best results and longest usable life (great option for doing photos on canvas boards)–but not ideal weights for a garment… and denim, or twill is next best.

And stay with natural fibers–any synthetic will just melt (which is why you don’t want to wear polyester if you’re working around any open flame)–unless you want to incorporate that effect into your design (potential toxicity issues from the material aside…), it’s great option for cutting out designs and edges that don’t fray.

Keep a spray bottle of water or fire extinguisher handy, too. Things could get ugly very fast compared to sheet/board materials.


Great info this page just keeps on giving