Zero Waste and the Pink Boot Saga

If you read my journal last week, you might know I'm a new empty-nester with more time on my hands for some hobbies like crocheting and sewing. After a recent purchase of a pair of bright pink boots, I found I didn't really have much to wear with them....

Fluevog Pink Revna BootsMy solution was to sew something with pink to match and discovered a stash of fabric remnants left over from the production of my dresses (below). Among them were numerous small fabric scraps, most of them less than a meter in size. This inspired me to take on a challenge - creating shirts to pair with my pink boots using these leftover pieces!

Diane Kennedy cotton dressesAfter creating several fresh shirt patterns on the computer, I proceeded to cut the shirt, contemplating the notion of 'zero waste' as I pondered over the usage of the fabric scraps. While the idea of being completely waste-free is undeniably appealing, achieving true 'zero waste' is an impossible task. Despite being very careful and making my markers very tight, waste is an inevitable byproduct that cannot be eliminated entirely. (Here's an example of a random 'marker' to show you what I mean. it showcases the cut-layout of all the pattern pieces in different sizes.)

Production marker showing the pattern pieces from a Diane Kennedy pattern
Garments are made from shapes, the neck and the top of the sleeve have curves, resulting in leftover fabric after production. Since a roll of fabric has a limited length, it is impossible for the garment's cut to magically end at the perfect spot.
Even if you make your garments completely out of rectangles (the idea behind the zero-waste concept), there will always be leftovers! And who wants to wear clothing shaped like a potato sack anyway?

sewing a new Diane Kennedy shirt pattern from scrap fabricWith my stash of beautiful scraps, I began to coordinate the prints together. It did require a lot of extra time to figure out how to use the individual lengths of fabric. For example, if a piece was too short to cut a panel, I revised the pattern to include a longer back yoke. 

A shirt sewing project using cotton scrapsMaking these eclectic shirts was a fun and inspiring project. Simultaneously I was experimenting with fresh shirt patterns and thinking about making a collection of cotton shirts for the upcoming spring season.Designer Diane Kennedy

I really love how my 'patchwork' shirts turned out. Although I haven't taken proper outfit photos yet, I can share one of a scarf I just completed.


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