You are currently viewing Zero Waste Dressmaking
Me modelling the Denim Blue Zero Waste Dress

Zero Waste Dressmaking

I finally have had time to write about the Zero Waste Dress pattern by Offset Warehouse!

Did you know that on average, 15% of fabric is wasted every time a garment is made? By designing clothes that are “zero waste”, this can be eliminated – the sewing pattern uses all the fabric and nothing is thrown away. Offset Warehouse have put together this simple zero waste dress pattern so you can try it for yourself – Which is exactly what I did! (You can find the FREE pattern here).

This Zero Waste Tunic will be both future proof (i.e. they will still fit as I continue to lose more weight) and literally uses every centimetre of fabric width in the length you desire (I even used the selvedge inside the seams!).

Dress 1: Maroon Zero Waste Dress

The first Zero Waste Tunic was completed a month or so ago… but the weather went colder so I never wore it out! I finally got to wear it out on Saturday morning in the field (My Dog Field – Cuddington) with the dogs! It came out a little short on me (I did not use all the fabric, and had around 50cm left over) and I did not like the width of the belt (I have remade the belt with the remainder of the fabric now – options!)

So, it fits me (UK22), Sarah (UK14) and my mum (UK10) – And looking at how good Sarah and my mum look in it, it certainly gives me motivation to keep on working on my weight!

Denim Blue Zero Waste Dress

My second dress was the Denim Blue. Learning from the first dress, I adjusted the width of the belt and created a lighter, more fluid, shoulder-line (where the pull ties are). I am very pleased with the result!

Sarah modelling the Zero Waste Dress(ing gown)
Sarah modelling the Zero Waste Dress(-ing gown) in Turquoise

Turquoise Zero Waste Dress

The third dress was to be in the Turquoise. As with the Denim Blue dress, I adjusted the width of the belt and created a lighter, more fluid, shoulder-line (where the pull ties are). However, in view of my operation on the 16th June, for which I needed I light weight dressing gown to take to the hospital (and looking at the weather forecast, my enormous, thick black fleecy one would simply not do!). So, instead of “completing the dress, I did not sew the front seam , as I intend to have it as a cool, light “dressing gown” to take to hospital with me on Thursday – so photos of me – pre-surgery – will follow! Of course, post surgery I will be asking my mother to sew up the front seam for me and finish the hems properly (they are currently loosely turned up once!!

Pattern Flexibility

What I like most about this pattern is that, in the instructions, there are pattern options to suit various widths of fabrics, with creative manipulations like the pleated pocket that help you use the fabric fully. the way that the pattern is constructed, and the order of sewing up seams, can be altered in order to make variations of the pattern. You can customise the patter as much or as little as you wish (as I did with my 3rd dress(-ing gown)!

You can always actually make a scrunchie with the last bits (or a earphone pouch as I did in anticipation of needing them for my operation)!

What fabric to choose?

I chose 3m lengths of the same (deadstock) fabric, with keeping cool and ease of dressing post-op in mind:

  1. Maroon – washed, 100% Linen Melange
  2. Denim Blue -washed, 100% Linen Melange
  3. Turquoise -washed, 100% Linen Melange

The great thing about the zero waste dress is how versatile it is – it will work with most fabrics. If you aren’t an experienced dressmaker, I would recommend plain fabric so that you don’t need to pattern-match.

©OffsetWarehouse Handwoven Ikat Cotton - Twilight Blue
©OffsetWarehouse Handwoven Ikat Cotton – Twilight Blue

You can use almost any fabric really – and Offset Warehouse have some fabulously beautiful socially and environmentally responsible textiles and haberdashery suitable for fashion clothing and accessories. Their fabrics are dispatched from their UK-based warehouse, available in wholesale and retail quantities to customers worldwide. Offset Warehouse only sells fabrics that combat the negative environmental impacts, worker exploitation and animal cruelty which remains rife in the industry. In doing so, they help improve (and indeed save) the lives of those working in the textile and fashion industry.

Also, if you get the opportunity, look at the deadstock / faulty fabrics which most companies have (e.g. Abakhan, Mostyn).

Earphone Pouch
Earphone Pouch

As the amount you need varies depending on the fabric you choose (narrower fabrics will require more meterage) and your measurements. On average, this dress requires 3-4 metres.

Measure your hips at the widest point, your bust at the widest point, and from the top of your shoulder to wherever you want the hemline to be (knee, thigh etc). Once you have these measurements and have chosen a fabric (or shortlisted a couple!), the instructions will help you calculate how many metres you will need. In fact, Offset Warehouse are more than happy to assist you in calculating! Email Naomi: if you require any further assistance with this pattern – they are a really nice and helpful team!

Offset Warehouse Zero Waste Dress workshop with Eve Tokens

Pictures showing Lydia (of Made My Wardrobe) in a capped sleeve version, a pleated pocket version, Eve in a modal-silk jersey edit and her ikat option.

Other Zero Waste Patterns I will be trying in the Future

Maynard Dress - ©Elbe Textiles
Maynard Dress – ©Elbe Textiles

Recommended by @Offset_Warehouse, I now follow @elbe_textiles and @birgittahelmersson on Instagram, who also have a number of Zero Waste patterns. I am very excited to try these out in the future!

Elbe Textiles

Elbe Textiles is owned by the lovely Lauren, in Australia. She is also passionate about clothing and textiles, particularly sustainable and slow fashion and lives by the ethos ‘quality over quantity’. She offers a wide range of clothing patterns in PDF format, in addition to the Maynard Dress – a Zero Waste Design.

Birgitta Helmersson

Based in Malmö Sweden, Birgitta Helmersson designs and develops sewing patterns and clothing exclusively using zero waste pattern cutting, which means no fabric is wasted in the cutting and sewing process. Small collections are designed and made in-house with a small team, using natural and re-purposed fabrics. 

Birgitta has 6 ZW (ZeroWaste) patterns (PDF) which are available for purchase: