Published on May 10th, 2011 | by Becky Striepe


Zero Waste Sewing


Zero waste design has been a growing trend in the fashion industry, and I’m very excited to see it catching on in the craft world, as well!

The idea behind zero waste design is really in the name: designers create patterns that use every last scrap of fabric on the bolt to reduce the amount that goes to landfills. A happy side effect of zero waste design is that saving materials also saves money. Everybody wins!

Betz White wrote an excellent piece for Sew, Mama Sew! on zero waste sewing, describing the concept of zero waste design and its environmental impacts. Betz says:

Currently the industry wastes about 15% of fabric used in garment construction. Zero-waste designers must truly innovate by specifically engineering their designs to not only look great but reduce waste and, by doing so, even cut manufacturing costs. Sometimes it means creating pattern pieces that fit together like a puzzle, other times it means no cutting but folding, draping and stitching the fabric into shape.

As a crafter nursing blisters on my fingers after a recent sewing marathon, that no cutting idea definitely appeals to me!

Betz has already dabbled in zero waste design with simple projects like her 10 Minute Pillowcase Apron, and it sounds like she’s got some more zero waste projects and patterns in the works! I’m excited to see what she comes up with and am trying to think of ways to make my own sewing projects zero waste, too!

Have any of you worked on zero waste design? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by: cedwardmoran]

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

7 Responses to Zero Waste Sewing

  1. Panya V says:

    I keep every bit of fabric and thread that I can — I use the bigger bits and pieces for other crafts, and the tiny remnants are used as stuffing in pillows and toys.

  2. I have not heard of the phrase “zero waste sewing” but have been a long time proponent of using what you have, recycling, upcycling, and making your fabrics and threads down to the last drop. I appreciate that this trend is spreading!

  3. Kelly says:

    My sewing scraps all go in a bucket, and I use them for stuffing christmas ornaments, etc. Fabric that can be cut into 2 inch or 1.5 inch squares (even just one) are cut and put in a separate container for other projects. I figure that counts as zero waste, just on a very small scale. 🙂

  4. Kath says:

     I try to use all of my scraps, no matter how small. Depending on the size of the piece, I will use them for quilting, stuffing for pillows, Barbie clothes, tying my grapevines to the fence, or whatever I can think of.

  5. Marie says:

    My mother went through the depression, and I remember this saying from her.  “Use it up, wear it out, make do, do without”.  

  6.  As a quilter, I always try to find ways to use up my fabric scraps. 

  7. BED says:

    I have been ‘sourcing’ from inside my home things that are marketed for crafters. I have been using parts of shampoo bottles for inner reinforcements and coffee bags to line lunch bags. I use parts of onion and garlic bag mesh for various applications. You don’t need to buy virgin, expensive supplies for many things that you already bring into your home.

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