Sunday, April 3, 2022

Weekend Review: Zero Waste Fashion Design


Zero Waste Fashion Design / Timo Rissanen & Holly McQuillan
London: Bloomsbury, c2016.
223 p.

I requested this book via Interlibrary Loan after reading about it in Liz Haywood's Zero Waste Sewing. She mentions that these makers inspired her to design with zero waste techniques, and so I wanted to check it out too. 

It's fascinating, but quite dense. It's noted that this is focused on being a textbook for fashion designers and students, and if you were either I think this book would be invaluable. For home sewists with an interest in the area it is a bit overwhelming! But, as mentioned, still pretty intriguing. If you have an interest in sustainable fashion, this would be a great addition to your reading.

The book goes over many areas of zero waste - history and basics of zero waste designs, pattern cutting and manufacturing zero waste garments including using digital technologies, adapting existing designs for zero waste, and looking forward in the design field. Lots of information and a wealth of illustrations of finished designs as well as cutting layouts are given. In between there are interviews with designers who use these techniques or are experts in pattern cutting - from Winifred Aldrich to Yeohlee and many more. These were interesting and added a lot to the reading experience. You can find a complete list of the contents on the publisher's page if you want to get a closer look at what's inside.

If you're confident with how to put together zero waste patterns from the pieces on a diagram, you might be able to make a few of the pieces illustrated in the book. If not, it's just a great start to understanding the concepts and purposes of zero waste design. I find that many of the designs are pretty shapeless and bulky for my own tastes so will keep watching the zero waste space for future growth. I know that already, Liz Haywood has been able to design some pieces that are more fitted and "traditional" looking so I'm sure that style will develop further. But just reading the interviews and the explanations of various collections was informative and worth the time to explore this book.

Definitely worth taking a look at this one if you can find it in your own library. It is rather expensive so probably best purchased if you're a fashion student or someone interested in designing your own zero waste patterns. 


  1. Hi Melanie, I'm glad you checked out this book. Yes, some might find it a bit heavy going patternmaking-wise, but there's plenty of fascinating reading, interviews and ideas.
    This is the book that got me and many others started on zero waste, and is still the only book for students.

  2. Hi Melanie. I definitely agree with your review. This book was my first introduction to zero waste .. I have had it quite a while. But I found it very hard going and had difficulty making sense of it. Mind you, I was impressed Winifred Aldrich was mentioned in it, and I had been to a Julian Roberts seminar when he was in Australia a few years ago. Julian Robert's thinking amazed me, but I knew I would never be able (or want) to wear that sort of clothing - I am just not that out there at all.
    After Liz's presentation at an ASG Autumn Sewing Celebration 2021 the penny dropped and I was totally hooked on ZW, although I still make other brands as well.
    I have quite a few ZW items of clothing now, and that first book definitely now makes more sense.

    1. Glad to hear this. I'm sure that once you start making ZW clothing and are more familiar with the construction, this book would be more useful/understandable. I was intrigued by it but I can tell it's above my skill levels right now :)


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