A Journey to Create 10 Zero Waste Dress Designs by Victoria Konash

Hi, my name is Victoria (@victoriakonash) and I live in Melbourne, Australia. I am a dressmaker, artist, and mender - although in recent years I have started calling myself just ‘crazy creative’ as I am generally interested in trying my hands on many creative things - including but not limited to wool spinning, natural dyeing, weaving, and whatnot. My primary qualification in the creative sphere was dressmaking though.

I have a very traditional background in pattern making. I did a diploma in Tailoring and Pattern Making during my last years of high school as a starting point. And although for many reasons my university degree was in Linguistics I came back to dressmaking straight after university. I also studied although never graduated at London College of Fashion, and finished another diploma in Applied Fashion Design and Technology in Australia at Open Colleges.

Zero waste living in many areas was natural to me. During my school years in the early 90s in post Soviet Belarus (former Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic), shortages of everything was a norm. Nothing was ever thrown away unless it was broken beyond repair. Living with a coupon system where paper coupons were given instead of salary to families to receive an allocated amount of goods from the shops every month made people creative in many ways. Shops were generally empty and you could get your coupons exchanged for necessary goods only if you had proper ‘connections’ or if you were really lucky and came early. People started queuing in front of the shops hours prior to open time to get what they needed due to limited supply to the shops. Getting the basics was the target and buying ‘luxury’ items including extra clothes was only a dream.

So I started to make my own clothes, transforming my mother’s unwanted dresses or skirts into something new for myself. Now and again I was lucky and had the whole metre of new fabric my grandmother was saving for some special occasion garment to play with! You can imagine, that fabric was rather treasured, and after the cutting process was made NOTHING went into the bin. Pattern cutting was a long and creative process of fitting all the pieces into the fabric amount I had, compromising what I could and redesigning the rest. And what was left went into making toys and other creative little things.

I think this is my main approach to pattern making these days. I have a design idea in my head, and when creating a pattern I try to think how to use up as much fabric as possible without changing the design a lot.

The First Zero Waste Dress Design: Anna

My first introduction to zero waste pattern making was when I came across the Zero Waste Fashion Design book by Timo Rissanen and Holly McQuillan. It was such a game changer! I knew straight away I wanted to learn more and definitely play with that idea. My first zero waste dress pattern came into life quite by accident though! I had a beautiful piece of 100% merino wool jersey I got with a really huge discount from The Fabric Store because it had a faulty run on one side. I fixed the fault by stitching over it and eco printed the fabric with eucalyptus leaves. I was simply planning to make a dress for myself and had a rough design idea in my head.