As I have mentioned before, I love patternmaking. I love how taking a 2D illustration and creating a pattern that will be worn on a 3D body is a puzzle for my brain. Zero Waste designing by its nature offers the similar type of challenge for my little grey cells and cuts down on the amount of waste I create in my workroom. I see it as a design challenge with many benefits.
With standard patternmaking, I have the illustration of the proposed design for reference, and with Zero Waste you do not. It is like when you are going on a road trip, and you have a starting location and an end destination. You plan the route in between and except for a few little surprises, you arrive at the final destination you decided from the outset.
With Zero Waste patternmaking the journey is different. You might have an idea of the sort of place you want to end up but you do not know exactly where. For example, you might start off your road trip knowing you want to go to a warm coastal town but rather than follow a map you head south along the coast and just keep going until you stumble upon a quaint seaside town that interests you. It might take a little longer, and you might get lost along the way, but you could end having a wonderful experience getting to an area you could not even have imagined. I am ready for my road trip; the top is down I am focused on the road, and I am looking forward to the drive itself as well as reaching my destination, wherever that might be. No map, no problem.
I started the design process by reviewing my notes from the Zero Waste lecture I attended at university, looking at my workbook from my first attempt at Zero Waste and then I started researching further on-line. Zero Waste has come into its own. It is not just a concept found in universities but a movement or revolution, and it has been building momentum in the fashion industry.
My next step was to sketch possible designs. I used the ½ scale blocks I use when I want to make patterns on my mini mannequin. I then drew a rectangle that was 1/2 the size of my fabric. I then roughly sketched out possible pattern designs. This process took a lot longer than I thought. With practice, I believe it would come a lot more naturally. When I was finished sketching, I was not sure if any of my rough attempts of Zero Waste patterns would be successful. I chose a handful of these drawings to make a toile/muslins of in ½ scale (see the two photos above).
Full-Scale Zero Waste Patterns
I really enjoyed the process. On a couple of occasions, I had no idea where I was going to put one of my “leftover” pieces in the garment but had no problem incorporating them into the design once I draped them on the mannequin. This design process allowed for “happy accidents” or surprise developments.
The piece that closes the underarm area on the blue tunic was one of these pieces (see the pattern in the photo above). Until I draped the tunic on the mannequin, I did not know how it would fit into the garment. The design looks a lot better for the piece being included.
The first Zero Waste garment I completed was the pink pleated skirt. It was my safety garment. I knew that it would work before I made it and if nothing else I would have one design to put on the blog.
Next, I made the blue tunic. I had a lot of fun making this, but it turned out shorter than I had expected. What I imagined as a dress turned into a tunic. I created the yellow dress to be a stand alone piece and to go under the tunic.
Although all three designs followed the Zero Waste principles, I do not feel like the blue tunic was entirely successful. I did not like how the garment bodice sat on the body. I think partially sewing down the shoulder pleats will improve the design. I would also be more likely to wear the blue tunic with a pair of cropped white pants than with the yellow dress. Overall I enjoyed the challenge, and I will enjoy the garments as well.
A Few Last Thoughts on Zero Waste Designing
You could see the constraints zero waste designing puts on designers as limiting creativity but in some cases, it forces the mind to look at things in a different light which can cause originality to spring to the forefront. More than anything this challenge has made me conscious of how much waste I make in my workroom, not just fabric waste but to consider paper waste as well. I hope to carry these new ideas through to my other challenges whether they are completely Zero Waste or not.