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Zero Waste Pattern Cutting

I have to share my discovery of this great book. Although the title hints at the overused ‘S’ word, and ignites my cynicism about it containing more tips for us to buy and dump more things under the guise of saving the planet, I was pleasantly surprised.  This book offers real encouragement and hope in the world of fashion design providing practical ways to address waste, looking at the source of clothing, how we make and design them, how we use and wear our clothes and how to make them last and look after them. (Shaping Sustainable Fashion, eds. Alison Gwilt & Timo Rissanen)

I understand now the value of  funding for innovative and experimental projects – they have the potential to review and change the way we do things.

One chapter in the ‘Make’ section of the book is on Zero Waste Design Practice by Holly McQuillan.  Weavers are very familiar with zero waste cutting. The precious connection we have to the cloth we create makes it difficult to cut at all….in fact I think we’re happiest with zero cutting.

Traditional clothing from around our world also uses this restraint in design such as this Japanese coat pattern from Northern Honshu, Late 18th century, from Cut My Cote by Dorothy K Burnham. These types of designs have always been built on the idea of scarcity of resources.

But Holly takes this idea much further. See this garment idea designed from a hyperbolic tessellation which is in the book – here for image, and here for pattern cut. She has used the tessellation pieces with virtually no waste to build the clothing design in layers on the model. There is also suggestion that these could be unstitched and shaped to new clothing after time, lengthening the life of the garment.

Another project on Holly’s site explores the value of typography as a design tool for zero waste pattern cutting – here.  All these projects require cutting but they minimise waste of fabric, so much which is left on factory floors. Holly gives some tips on her zero waste process to download here.

 As a weaver, so connected to the creation of cloth, I so want to create unique, no waste designs.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. It sounds like I need to buy this book. Dressmaking is one of the next challenges on my very long list of skills to master,* and doing so with minimal/no waste is high on the agenda.

    Thanks for sharing!

    *Ironic that I should be so keen to learn now, when I avoided it like the plague in high school home ec.

    May 19, 2011

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