Zero Waste Not Zero Waist
When I first discussed my inspiration for this month’s challenge to my co-host Alethia and the viewers on That Sewing Blab, there was a little confusion. Viewers thought that Zero Waste was Zero Waist. I had no idea of the confusion until Alethia enlightened me. I think I was so excited that I failed to explain properly.
What is Zero Waste
So what is Zero Waste? Zero Waste designing is part of the larger Zero Waste sustainability movement which aims to cut down the amount of waste we make in our daily lives. In Fashion Zero Waste refers aims to have no waste after a garment is made. In the design, patternmaking and cutting processes Zero Waste principles challenge designers to work in a more eco-friendly manner. When cutting out a garment, the fashion industry will typically have over 10% left over after the garment is cut. Zero Waste encouraged designers to use every bit of the fabric in the design.
Zero Waste forces you to look at designing clothing from a new perspective. It gives you an opportunity to challenge yourself creatively and to think of our waste footprint as designers.
First Experience with Zero Waste Designing
I was first introduced to the concept of Zero Waste at school. One of the department’s teachers at Massey University, Holly McQuillan, was a trailblazer in the field, and I was lucky enough to be able to hear her speak on the subject in one of my classes. In a world that is stuck on the hamster wheel of fast fashion, I felt the concept was a breath of fresh air.
I started trying to imagine my pattern directly after Holly spoke to our class. I drew a rough rectangle and tried to imagine how I could transform the rectangle into a top. I randomly drew what I thought might sew together to make a loose top. It was like taking a leap of faith. It was slightly uncomfortable leaving the structured way we had been patternmaking, but I kept going until I was happy with the result. I then refined the pattern, and when I was happy with it I digitized it into our CAD software at school. I made a toile and then refined the pattern further.
The photo at the top of this post is of my final design for this class project and beside it is its corresponding pattern. I am pleased with the design as a first attempt at Zero Waste but would love to have the opportunity to revise it further. I am planning on altering this design during this month’s challenge as I feel I can make it a lot more interesting.
The process of designing and patternmaking are normally separate processes. In some cases the person who designs the garment and the person who completes the patternmaking are two different people. I feel when you work on both the design and patternmaking yourself there is some crossover but not as much that occurs when you start the creation process with Zero Waste in mind. You start the designing/patternmaking process with a different goal; that of not having excess fabric left over after you have cut your garment out of the fabric.
Design Challenge Brief
For this month’s design challenge I will not be giving you two designs to vote for and then making the winning design but making the design and then inviting you to vote for your favourite. The only rule for this month’s challenge is that both designs must follow Zero Waste principles.