Zero Waste Patterns – How To Be Sewing Garments Sustainably

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In recent years, the fashion industry has been under scrutiny for its environmental impact and lack of size inclusivity. However, a new trend is emerging that addresses these issues head-on – zero waste patterns for sewing. These innovative patterns not only minimize fabric waste but also cater to individuals of all sizes. Join us in this post as we delve into the world of zero waste pattern design that seamlessly combines sustainability and size inclusivity. I will share some of my favourite printed zero waste patterns for garments and pattern designers, as well as pointing you towards some great zero waste sewing pattern ideas that I have found on social media. I am looking for lots of different patterns to make my own zero waste clothes, so if you know of any that I have missed, please do comment below so that I can add it to my list!

Embracing Sustainability With Zero Waste Sewing Patterns

What Makes Some Sewing Patterns Zero Waste?

The concept behind zero waste sewing patterns is that they eliminate fabric waste entirely. A zero waste design uses all of the fabric. It most usually involves minimal pattern cutting or cutting pattern pieces in blocks. And it may also involve cutting on the bias, pleating and draping techniques. 

The resulting garments are versatile items of clothing that flatter a multitude of body shapes without generating any textile wastage. At the end of the day a lot of the zero waste patterns give you a very modular design of garment once sewn, but with minimal waste or no waste of fabric whatsoever.

In addition to being so much more sustainable, zero waste garments tend to be a lot more size inclusive due to their design. A lot are one size, or easily adaptable by grading into a larger size, and thus they promote size inclusivity.

Why Sew Your Own Zero Waste Garments?

Sewing can be an expensive hobby, but it is a great skill to have if you wish to live frugally. One of my favourite things to do is reuse old sheets or bedding covers to make new clothing. And in this instance it is great to use patterns that can use the whole of the fabric and not leave any waste at all. 

Plus, as most of the patterns are made using your own personal body measurements, the garments can be whatever size you are.

By upcycling or reusing old fabric it reduces our carbon footprint and is so much more cost-effective.  However, were you to be making garments from new fabric there are some more sustainable fabric choices for zero waste sewing: eco-friendly textiles that are suitable for zero-waste projects include organic cotton, linen and hemp.

See my article on which fabrics are the most eco friendly.

So – where are the best places to find zero waste patterns?

Zero Waste Pattern Books

Birgitta Helmersson – Zero Waste Patterns

With the Birgitta Helmersson book of zero waste sewing patterns you are shown how to make ‘blocks’. Using these blocks you can create 5 simple zero waste designs: a t-shirt, skirt, tank top, shirt and trousers. You actually draw the blocks directly onto your fabric, so as well as being zero waste, this is a paperless method too.

Birgitta shows you the essential tools required for working with her blocks so you can then rework them into a further 15 scandi style capsule wardrobe of garments. You can then use tailoring techniques to ensure a perfect fit for your body shape, and so the possibilities are endless.

Liz Haywood – Zero Waste Sewing

Sewing teacher Elizabeth Haywood has made this book to help you make 16 zero waste projects. With several zero waste dress designs, several coat and jacket pattern, a playsuit, hooded zero waste robe, skirts and trousers, you can easily make a year round wardrobe full of zero waste garments with this book.

Wendy Ward – How To Sew Sustainably

Whilst this is not strictly a zero waste patterns book, it does have a full section on using building blocks to create and draft patterns to your own measurements to make t-shirts, dresses and skirts.

 This book also has lots of useful sewing tips and shows you a lot of sewing basics when making your own clothes or upcycling old clothes. So it is well worth a look.

Zero Waste Sewing Patterns Online

As you can imagine, there are a host of patterns to be found online for zero waste garments. Some are pdf patterns, others are free instructions or tutorials. But here are the ones I have found so far.

Birgitta Helmersson Website

As well as her book of patterns, you can also find several Birgitta Helmersson zero waste sewing patterns online for sale. The Birgitta Helmersson patterns include

  • The Zero Waste Gather Dress  
  • Soft Blouse
  • Block Pants
  • Cropped Shirt
  • Tiered Dress
  • Workwear jacket and 
  • Bell Jacket

Find them all here.

Elbe Textiles

Lauren at Elbe textiles is a massive fan of sustainable sewing, and she has a wonderful free tutorial how to make a zero waste robe – find it here.

She also used to have a zero waste dress (the Maynard dress) as a pattern on her site, but recently she realised it was not quite as size inclusive as she would have liked it to be, and so she has withdrawn this for the time being.

The Sew Sew

I actually found Cindy through TikTok last year, and was intrigued by the concept of a ‘bog coat’. This ancient way of making clothing has been given a new twist through Cindy’s patterns, which you can find on Etsy. 

Find The Modern Bog Jacket pdf pattern here. And Cindy has developed a whole load of zero and low waste sewing patterns.

Fibr & Cloth Studio

Fibr and Cloth have a couple of zero waste patterns on their site. Both the Iris Blouse and the Photinia Blouse are versatile and customisable. Find them here.

Janet Celeste 

The Janet Celeste website has lots of standard sewing patterns, but it has a couple of zero waste options too.

The zero waste top pattern is a pay-what-you-can download on the site. Minimum donation is $5. Find it here. And there is also the Tyler Trousers.

Goldfinch Textile Studio

Emily at Goldfinch Textile Studio is passionate about creating zero waste patterns – she has 4 wonderful patterns on her site for a smock, trousers, top and overalls. The overalls are definitely on my to-sew list! Find them here.

G00dbad – Cara’s Apron Dress Tutorial

Again, on TikTok last year I came across this ingenious idea from Cara to reuse bedding to make apron dresses – by using blocks of an old sheet or duvet cover you can quickly make these apron wrap designs. She sells them ready made in her shopify shop, but find her video tutorial here. I made one for myself in a tartan flannel fabric last winter.

The Zero Waste Pattern Library

As I was researching more zero waste patterns to add to this post – I also found this brilliant resource. A full library of free, public source and paid for zero waste patterns. Find it here.

And I also found this wonderful google database document of zero waste patterns too. 

Sadly some of the patterns such as the Offset Warehouse zero waste dress pattern and the Schnittchen Patterns Zero Waste 1 & 2 are no longer available – but it is still worth working through the list.

Zero waste sewing patterns have the potential to revolutionize the fashion industry, combining sustainability and size inclusivity in an inspiring way. By adopting these patterns, we can contribute towards reducing fabric waste and offering clothing options that cater to a diverse range of body shapes. Let’s embrace zero waste design principles and start sewing our own zero waste clothing on our way toward a more sustainable and inclusive future.

Ultimate list of zero waste sewing patterns for garments. Sew your own zero waste clothes with this guide to zero waste patterns available. Make a zero waste dress, zero waste jacket or zero waste clothing using this huge list of zero waste sewing projects patterns.

Have You Enjoyed This Post? Why Not Read These?

I hope you have enjoyed this post on where to find patterns to sew your own zero waste wardrobe. I love to post all sorts of articles about sustainable sewing. So if you have loved this, why not read about

I love to see all your projects. Do comment below, or tag me in your makes on social media. Find me at

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Ultimate list of zero waste sewing patterns for garments. Sew your own zero waste clothes with this guide to zero waste patterns available. Make a zero waste dress, zero waste jacket or zero waste clothing using this huge list of zero waste sewing projects patterns.

2 Replies to “Zero Waste Patterns – How To Be Sewing Garments Sustainably”

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Jane. It is just so much more eco friendly to reuse fabric.

      Reply

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