Zero Waste Robe

I have really enjoyed trying out the patterns in the Zero Waste Sewing book by Elizabeth Haywood. They are interesting from a design and engineering point of view and are fun to make.

Image shows a belted robe on a dressmakers mannequin. The robe has a shawl collar that extends into a hood. The robe is made out of a coarsely woven cotton fabric in a hessian colour and is printed with large white circular motifs.
Zero waste robe

A few observations:

  • The patterns mostly call for fabric over 130cm or so. Wide dress fabric can be hard to find so it’s worth checking in at the upholstery section of your favourite fabric store. Sometimes they have fun prints.
  • Taking of prints, if your fabric is printed, the print may not go all the way to the selvedge. Depending on where the selvedge is used in the pattern, the gap may not be visually appealing to you. Consider trimming to the end of the pattern and overlocking the raw edge. This might make your garment low waste instead. Your project, your call, but worth considering.
  • The patterns in the book seem to be generously proportioned based on the two I have made. I suspect the 1 metre top might not have so much ease but I haven’t made it so it’s just that – a suspicion.
  • The robe lapel fold back and hood show the wrong side of the cloth. I recommend you consider this when selecting your fabric. Similarly, directional prints could lead to some surprises.

A Win with the Free Unisex Shirt Pattern from the V&A

This is a seriously good pattern and it’s free.

I am in awe of the quality of drafting by Allice & Co. It’s not an easy task to draft a well-fitting unisex pattern, one that worked for me with no full bust adjustment.

I used a blue and white striped cotton linen blend for this one because it was exactly the fabric I had in mind. I took a risk using expensive fabric on a pattern I hadn’t used before by a pattern designer who was new to me but it was a success. I made adjustments to the sleeve and body length, as you might expect when using the pattern for a not very tall woman. The sleeve plackets were a fun new approach for me, and are similar to what you see in commercial menswear shirts. It’s a very tidy finish.

Image shows a shirt with long sleeves a traditional collar on a collar stand. The shirt is a pull-over style with a front button band that stops at mid chest level. The shirt has narrow blue and white stripes and has brown buttons on the button band and on the cuffs.
Unisex shirt

Highly recommended and don’t be put off by the images of the shirt on the V & A site. They used a fabric which is fun and edgy but the pattern looks very different made up in a more traditional shirting.

And did I mention, it’s free. Always a popular price point.

Completed Zero Waste Tessellation Dress

Here it is. I am impressed that there were just tiny slivers of the black linen fabric left over.

A woman is wearing a black dress with folded up sleeves and a patch pocket. A seam runs from the neck down the arm to the cuff. The hem is curved at the sides and the side seam has a little fabric tab sewn at the bottom to prevent the side seam ripping open under the strain of wear.

I had to do a quick swap of wrong side to right side when I was pressing the felled centre back seam and I got a sticky layer on the iron. This can happen when you shop from the remnant bin. The masking tape label read linen, but the fabric composition was a linen synthetic blend. I’ll probably never know how much is each fibre type but at this stage I’m thinking the synthetic is the majority. Disappointing as I wanted real linen.

The hand of the fabric is a little stiff so it was impractical to add the horizontal and sleeve folds that were in the original design. I had shortened the length to accommodate my short end of fabric so the horizontal folds were no longer needed. I made a long turn up at the cuff using the fine teal linen for design reasons and to allow me to easily adjust the sleeve length.

The pocket is the front neck section trimmed down for width and faced with the teal linen. I made a couple of tabs to secure the hem slits using the fabric left from cutting out the back neck section.

Image shows in irregular rectangle of fabric above a similar piece of fabric that has been folded and pressed into a tab, similar in design to a belt loop
Tab construction

Zero Waste Tessellation Dress

Another adventure. This time in modern zero waste sewing.

I have 1.4m of 150cm wide medium weight linen, with a few barely noticeable weaving flaws, purchased from the remnant bin at Darn Cheap Fabrics. Also 40cm of dark teal light weight linen fabric, also from the remnant bin. I had found myself drawn to the lightweight fabric for the breathtaking colour and was happy no one else had swooped on it, even for a scarf, which was my original idea.

Total fabric cost 18AUD plus 4 AUD.

Zero waste has been part of human clothing since the first person managed to felt or weave or fashion a garment out of the materials available to them. Our forebears had no resources to waste. All the fancy construction methods we have now are a reflection of our relative wealth and the benefits of mechanisation. But here we are, with zero waste back in focus. Good.

Tessellation Dress Ready to Cut Out

I will be using a pattern I have drawn up from Zero Waste Sewing which I borrowed from my Guild library. I have already shortened the pattern and redrawn the side seams as I have so little fabric. I’m not tall and my tape measure tells me I will be fine for length. What is less certain is how the drape will be, especially considering a full bust adjustment is a standard step in most garment construction I do.

I also did not follow the described cutting layout with the shoulders lined up to the selvedges because of that constraint. I have a vision that includes using to stunning teal green linen.

Stand by.