Zero Waste Sewing Advice for Beginners + @duckgoesoink's DIY Process

Hello, I’m Hinerangi (@duckgoesoink)! I stopped buying clothes and started wearing a year-round capsule wardrobe a few years ago, after watching a documentary about the inhumane working conditions of the people who make our clothes. I’d initially planned to stop buying for a year, but 7 years later I still only buy technical equipment (sports + motorcycle gear). Every time I see documentaries or reports about the effects of fashion on the environment and humans, my decision renews itself.

Tessellated playsuit pattern by Liz Haywood; Tessellated shirt adapted from the playsuit + Birgitta Helmersson’s jacket pattern.

After 6-10 years of very heavy wear, many of my clothes were in a very sorry state. October last year I started mending and sewing replacement garments, as a way to keep my mind and hands busy from grieving the loss of a dear family member that month. Learning on my own, making only things I need, and trying to cause the least harm to the planet and other humans as I can afford - I started rebuilding my wardrobe with me-made (including shoes and underwear) and me-mended items. I started my Instagram account to rant into the void and keep a visual journal of my progress, but found a very friendly community instead!

This year I discovered zero waste sewing via Instagram. Searching for digestible info and examples of the concept, I came across the work of @zerowastewardrobe (she’s on a mission to create patterns for all the wardrobe basics!) - and an obsession was ignited. I watched all the videos I could find on the concept of zero waste sewing, and searched all the hashtags of patterns mentioned.

I downloaded and machine translated ZWW’s panties pattern, and started buying my first zero waste patterns and books: the ‘Zero Waste Sewing’ book by Liz Haywood, and the #zwwcroppedshirt by Birgitta Helmersson.

Sketches of DIY zero waste dresses and cutting layouts.

Things I've Made

I’m still a beginner, so most of my zero waste garments are based on patterns designed by professional designers. Although I have recently started experimenting with some DIY made-to-measure patterns too. I keep a list of garments I need (and want! No one’s perfect), and update it regularly.

Garments from patterns by Liz Haywood: Tie Front Top (Zero Waste Sewing), Smith Pinafore, buttoned skirt adapted from Wrap Skirt (Zero Waste Sewing).