When talking about sustainability in the fashion industry (and, by extension, in home sewing), one of the concepts that comes up often is zero-waste design (or sewing patterns). It’s a very interesting approach, that looks at the pattern cutting process in a completely different way, resulting in shapes that are functional, simple looking, but also very cleverly assembled at the same time.
I have been meaning to sew my own version of a zero-waste pattern for a very long time, so I started doing some research to see what is available for home sewing. The bad news is that obviously there are not as many options as regular sewing patterns, but the good news is that the vast majority of them are free to either download or come with instructions to make your own.
Now, you might ask, why should we be interested in zero-waste design or care about zero-waste sewing patterns? Well, for one, waste is a massive issue in the overall fashion industry, with approximatively 15% of the fabric used for any garment ending up as waste. That most often means straight to landfill. For home sewing, we also end up with little pieces that we have no use (thought I know that many in the community are working really hard to use as much of them as possible).
I also think that zero waste design can be an awesome intellectual challenge. It’s a very different way of looking at shapes and it does become creative problem solving at its best.
If you want to know more about zero-waste design, scroll to the end of the post where I listed some resources. If you want to know more about sustainability and sewing, check out this section on the blog.
So, shall we have a look are what’s available for home sewing?
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ZERO WASTE SEWING PATTERN DESIGNERS
There are companies or designers that entirely specialise in zero-waste design, but also some conventional designers that have created a few patterns in this space. So I will we listing both the designers I came across as well as specific patterns that are a one off.
I have only recently came across this brand, but they have some awesome patterns that look very cool, but are also zero-waste.
This is their latest release, the Adonis dress. It’s already made its way to my sewing list. It’s available in PDF download for €10.
Make sure to check out their website for loads more patterns, including a zero waste backpack.
Makeuse is a community created by one of the most famous zero-waste designers, Holly McQuillan. You can find a multitude of patterns to download for free, as well as many other resources on zero-waste design.
They are actually a clothes brand, but I found a document where they share a few zero-waste patterns. It’s just the dimensions, but it doesn’t look too complicated to assemble.
EDIT: Again not a sewing patterns company, Atacac are a brand and concept design studio that promote something called kinetic design, i.e. clothes designed using 3D software that mimic the body movements. They offer some patterns for free as shareware, and a few of them are zero-waste(ish). The patterns do not come with instructions, btw. Thanks to Melissa Fehr for highlighting (and post now updated).
ZERO WASTE SEWING PATTERNS OR TUTORIALS
ELBE TEXTILES – ZERO WASTE ROBE TUTORIAL
ELBE Textiles Maynard zero-waste dress
ZERO WASTE T-SHIRT TUTORIAL – OFFSET WAREHOUSE + FRANKI CAMPBELL
ZERO-WASTE DRESS – OFFSET WAREHOUSE (Free download)
ZERO WASTE TOP – Schnittchen PATTERNS (Free download)
ZERO WASTE DRESS – Schnittchen PATTERNS (Free download)
Zero-waste design resources
- Great intro to zero-waste in Seamwork Magazine
- A post on Zero waste sewing from Wendy Ward
- How to create zero-waste patterns using Adobe Illustrator by the Creative Curator
- Pinterest board on Zero Waste Sewing Patterns
HAVE YOU TRIED A ZERO WASTE SEWING PATTERN YET? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CONCEPT? DO YOU THINK IT’S PRACTICAL FOR HOME SEWING? DO YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER ZERO WASTE SEWING PATTERNS? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
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