Zero-Waste Sewing

I don’t usually post about sewing here, but I’ve been reading a lot about zero-waste sewing lately, and I thought I’d share a couple of projects.

My first project was a simple full skirt, made from a square tablecloth I bought at a yard sale a couple of years ago. I didn’t use a pattern for this project. After playing around a bit in front of a mirror to see how it would drape when gathered, I folded the tablecloth in half and cut a waistband at the folded edge. This gave me two rectangular pieces of fabric that I then gathered and sewed together at the sides. I decided to make the waistband flat in front and with an elastic back, so I interfaced the length the waistband I wanted for the front waistband, then folded it and sewed to the skirt, pulling the gathers in somewhat more at the front than the back. I then threaded the elastic through a portion I’d left unsewn, and sewed it down at the side seams.

Here is the finished skirt. I am planning to open the side seams and add pockets; I have another of the same tablecloth I plan to make a top from, and hope to use the leftovers from that piece to make the pockets.

A middle-aged woman wears a white sleeveless shirt and a royal blue full skirt with geometric print.

My second project was a pair of pajama shorts. I had a yard of 58 inch wide fabric, and I wanted to see if i could alter the pattern to cut it from a single width of the fabric. Starting from a pattern I’ve used before, I cut the front and back pieces out of Swedish tracing paper and sewed them together at the inseam to form a single pattern piece. I altered the inseams slightly so the pieces would be on the grain when I cut out the single pattern piece.

I did end up needing to make some adjustments to the crotch seam for a better fit, as I did my adjustments on the fly and they weren’t perfect, but in the end I managed to cut the shorts out of just a bit more than 1/2 yard of fabric!

Here are some resources on zero-waste sewing in case you’re interested in trying it out:

The Cris Wood Sews Envelope Dress

Seamwork article on zero waste design

Zero Waste Sewing by Elizabeth Haywood


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