The concept of Zero Waste Design was completely new to me when my professor brought it up as a proposal for my master's thesis. However, I was immediately hooked on integrating it somehow into my work. As a textile designer, I had little experience with pattern design and was initially quite intimidated by the idea of developing a complete zero-waste collection. In retrospect, however, I think that the lack of experience was not necessarily a hindrance, but perhaps even a source of inspiration in the design process. It allowed me to engage with the textile surface itself in a way that was detached from specific pattern design techniques.
An important anchor point of my work was the combination between the pattern design and the design of the textile itself. Originally, I wanted to develop the print design first and then build on it with the zero waste cut. Relatively quickly, however, I realized that this approach had severe limitations, so I reversed my approach. With a rough idea of what my outfits should look like, I approached the conventional design of them.
Great relief was the use of the software Clo3D. This way I could quickly try whether my first idea, based on the sketch, would also look good on the three-dimensional body. So I was already able to sort out or modify the first drafts. In the next step, I started to convert the developed designs into zero-waste patterns.
The Jumpsuit is an example of a very straightforward design process with few deviations from the original idea.
Left to right: my first sketch; the Design made conventionally; the Zero Waste Pattern for the Jumpsuit
Left to right: the pattern with the textile design; the final design with the pattern in the background
Here, too, the software helped me a lot, because I could move pattern pieces back and forth, distort, reduce or enlarge them as often as I wanted, all with direct visual feedback on the avatar. I typically went through the process by picking the pattern piece that contained eye-catching elements of the design and defining the areas that should not be altered under any circumstances. In the case of the cocktail dress, for example, this area was the gathered area at the hip. Of course, not changing these areas didn't always work, but in most cases, this approach gave a good result. Once I had defined these areas, I worked my way from the large pattern pieces to the small and then looked at the ‘least important’ pieces; always with the thought in mind that pattern pieces that are essential for the silhouette should be changed as little as possible.
With each draft, I became a little more familiar with the different methods, and luckily I also had the designs with large and few pattern pieces planned at the beginning. Because what I definitely noticed is that the more pattern pieces you want to accommodate, the more complicated the undertaking becomes. The shirt and trousers were the most complicated design, in my eyes, since I had many pieces to find a place for, and I undoubtedly hadn’t picked an easy pattern to start with.
Left to right: my first sketch; the design of the shirt with conventional made pattern pieces; the final design with the zero waste patterns in the background.
Left to right: the Zero Waste Pattern for the shirt with the textile Design; the zero waste shirt with marked pattern pieces.
I also quickly realized that flexibility is significant. Although I had set myself the target that the zero waste outfit should be based on my original sketch and not deviate completely, I allowed myself minor deviations because I also had the textile design available as a design element.
Once the pattern was fully worked out and all the pieces were accommodated, I took care of the print design. It was important for me to integrate my two main themes: ‘The illusion of shape’ and ‘joie de vivre.’ ‘The illusion of shape’ comes into its own, especially through the design of the surface with regard to the three-dimensional effect. I used light and dark areas, as well as line work, to guide the eye and shape the silhouette. For the women's outfits, I focused on a narrow waist for this purpose, whereas for the men's it was the emphasis on broad shoulders and muscular thighs. These are specially shaped by the lines, which in my concept are the symbol for structured thought patterns. The rainbow-coloured areas of colour, on the other hand, break out in various places and break through the lines, just as new ideas and outbursts of joy in life can break through old patterns.
Again, the visual feedback on the avatar was a great advantage, so I could check the designs I created and assembled in Photoshop and Illustrator directly in Clo3D on the body and make changes directly. This resulted in a lot of different versions and jumps between the design steps, but I could also put the whole collection side by side and check if the designs fit together in the group. This was actually the final step, matching the different designs so that a coherent overall look emerged.
One of the biggest challenges would definitely be the implementation of the outfits as real garments. This step was not part of my master's thesis, so during the simulation, I ‘only’ made sure to represent the fabric parameters and fit as well as possible with the help of the integrated tools, yet this is no guarantee for a functioning real real-life product. Originally, I wanted to implement this step after finishing my Master's degree, but then I found a job as a 3D fashion artist and also threw myself into many other textile projects. Despite everything, the idea of zero waste design never really left my mind, and it always plays a role in my current projects, too, albeit in a reduced form. One big idea floating around in my head is the idea of converting a historically inspired outfit to a Zero Waste Design. In an indirect way, Zero Waste Design has brought me to historically inspired clothing and textile design, because back then more than today, textile was an expensive good that was not wasted, if possible.