Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Zero Waste

Our first class project is to create a "zero waste" garment. As stated in my last post, about 15% of fabric is typically wasted during the production of a garment. Zero Waste is about using a whole piece of fabric for one garment so that there is no waste in the end. Not a single scrap of fabric should be on the sewing room floor when all is said and done. In order to accomplish this, one must rethink how to design the garment and how to lay out the pattern. It's sort of like a 2 dimensional puzzle that needs to reach a 3 dimensional reality, without missing a single puzzle piece.

 Prior to the industrial revolution, clothing and cloth were expensive and time-consuming products to make – and as a result fabric use and pattern forms were carefully manipulated to use as much of it as possible – often resulting in close to 100 percent yield (Burnham, 1973).
Shaping Sustainable fashion, ch 2. Holly McQuillan

Timo Rissanen's zero waste hoodie

Several designers have experimented with zero waste and there are many different ways to do it. Sometimes it starts from reversing the design process... by creating shapes on fabric and working within them to define the pattern pieces, and in turn lead to the final design. Other designers have use a jigsaw method which interlocks each pattern piece like a puzzle. Another option is to take one repeating shape, like a rectangle or triangle, and build a garment from those pieces. And finally, some designers just take the whole piece of fabric and drape it onto the form, manipulating the fabric into a wearable shape.

Timo Rissanen, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability at Parsons The New School for Design, and Holly Mcquillan, lecturer in the fashion design program at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington NZ, were curators for a zero waste exhibition in 2011 called Yield.

I highly recommend that you take a look through the Yield collection: yieldexhibition.com/yieldexhibition-catalogue.pdf There are some amazing garments, and looking at the patterns is mind blowing. It's hard to understand how they were able to get from point A to point B.  You can tell that each designer used their own method to create their zero waste garment.

Can I turn this into a garment? :)
So now I'm faced with the same challenge. I've started with my Professor's suggestion of writing a word on my fabric and using it to define my pattern pieces. The word I've chosen is "Eco" ("sustainable" is a bit too long!). The very basic idea of what I'm starting with is pictured to the right. I've been experimenting and I have a few ideas, however I'm sure things will change as I progress. I'll share more of my process as I go, and hopefully I'll soon have a better idea of how I can make it work!

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