Zero Waste Home Sewing [an experiment]

If you get our weekly newsletter or follow me on Instagram you will have noticed a very definite ‘Zero Waste’ trend this last week.

It all started last week when I first saw a video from Zero Waste Fashion label Tonle.

This is their Kickstarter Video


I just loved this concept and couldn’t help but wonder if it was possible to achieve the same zero waste outcomes in a home sewing setting. It is reported that home sewing generally produces around 30% waste – surely I could do better than that?? So this week I gave it a go.

First thing I did was spend a little while playing around with the pattern pieces from a pattern I am working on at the moment. The aim was to see if they could be re-arranged and altered very slightly to take up a smaller amount of fabric.

Here is a pic of the final layout I came up with

Zero waste home sewing

When cut from the rectangle, and including all the serger tails and threads from sewing the garment up, this layout produced an 8% waste by weight:

zero waste home sewing

Then I set my mind to how I might use up the small pieces. I settled on cutting thin strips, sewing them together where needed, and using them to make some ‘Nautical Knit Fabric twine’. I can use this for another project as a waistband or hoodie tie or the like.

zero waste home sewing

Finally I used the final scraps the same way they do at Tonle – making paper.

I mixed 3 of the sheets of paper that I had printed the pattern pieces on, mixed with the fabric scraps to make 3 lovely textured pieces of paper. Here is a quick how to if you want to give this a go.

Here is how mine turned out – I love it!

Zero Waste home sewing

I had a fun day on this project, but I would get very little done in my pattern design business if I dealt with all my waste this way. I am sure that there is a practical way though – stay tuned to hear about what I can come up with.

If you have a go at zero waste (or even less waste) home sewing be sure to grab some pics and hashtag them #sew4bub I would love to see what you come up with!

As always, thanks for reading.

Liz xx




8 thoughts on “Zero Waste Home Sewing [an experiment]

  1. Love this! I always feel like I have so much waste and I would like to reduce that amount. I have been trying to sew more from my stash and using what little pieces I can. I like your ideas and can’t wait to hear what else you come up with!

  2. NOW y’all are getting it!! This warms my heart as I learned very early on from my Mom who used to sew for the church missionaries. She was given patterns & fabric by the church & always came out w/ far more dresses than the other sewing ladies. They all said, “Millie can make fabric scream” by pinching as much as she could out of it. When I first started following sewing blogs I would cringe at seeing pattern placement on a piece of fabric when I knew I could place the pieces so much closer together & not waste so much fabric. BUT, just how do you go about telling a seasoned blogger how to do her job when I don’t blog myself?! Seeing this here makes me VERY happy!!! I LOVE you & what you do Liz & your patterns make me SEW happy!!!! I am glad someone besides me can get others to see the waste & teach others. Makes me look far less bossy! LOL! Keep up your FABULOUS work.
    From your biggest fan!!!

  3. Pingback: Zero Waste Home Sewing [Part 2] | Sew 4 Bub

  4. Pingback: Rockin’ the Zero Waste Ruffle skirts [Tutorial] | Sew 4 Bub

  5. The rope and paper is very nifty!
    I think one of the best ways to reduce waste with home sewing is to mend items and repurpose clothing that isn’t worn anymore. Especially easy to do when seeing for people smaller than the adults in the house.

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