On a quest for zero waste jeans

Zero waste jeans fabric

An item which isn’t on my sewing bucket list (but should be) is to make a pair of zero waste jeans.

What do I mean by zero waste jeans? I mean a pair of jeans cut using 100% of the fabric, with no scraps, offcuts or waste. The layout needs to fit neatly within the confines of the selvedges and the two cut edges. The jeans still need to fit properly and look like jeans (with the usual fly front, waistband, beltloops, 5 pockets and back yoke).

I had planned to begin this project during the summer holidays, but while I haven’t actually cut into the denim yet, I have done some research…

It started when I read this article from the NY Times about students from Parsons the New School for Design who were taking a course in zero waste and sustainability. They would be asked to figure out how to make zero waste jeans without compromising style and fit. The article was written back in 2010, and I wondered if they were successful and if their zero waste jeans were comparable to the ones we currently wear. I emailed the teacher and he said the article was actually written before the course had begun. They had planned to make jeans but instead the students ended up making all types of garments. He himself has made zero waste jeans; his layout is here.

I searched a bit more on the internet. Mylene of Milan AV-JC has created a zero waste jeans layout on-screen but hasn’t yet toiled and graded them. The layout is here. Note that the side seams of the jeans are butted against the selvedges. Read her interesting piece about zero waste patternmaking here.

I also looked at some jeans-related ideas:

Jeans cut from selvedge denim butt the pattern’s outside leg seams against the selvedges, same as Mylene’s layout. This means the leg cut is always straight with no shaping at all on the outside leg seam. There’s an article here explaining selvedge denim including a non-zero waste layout.

Gusseted jeans, favoured by motor bike riders, could make for a more achievable layout. With a smaller “fork” (ie crotch curve) the front and back may fit together easier on the layout. Here’s what gusseted jeans look like. I guess the gusset is about 20cm x 7cm.

Are men’s jeans, with their squarer shapes, easier to make zero waste?

I’m keen to hear from anyone who has made a pair of zero waste jeans.

With these thoughts swirling around in my mind, I plan to cut out a pair of zero waste jeans this week using some 150cm wide denim I have, developing a layout from a good-fitting jeans pattern I made last year.



  1. Julie on February 5, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Wow! That occurs like a tall order to me and very impressive. Really looking forward to seeing the outcome. Enjoy the adventure :-)…. And the links were great, thanks. It’s such an education to see what others are doing and appreciating the cleverness.


    • lizhaywood on February 5, 2019 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks for the comment Julie, appreciate it. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome too!

  2. Mylène @MILAN AV-JC on April 8, 2019 at 7:21 am

    Owh ! Thanks for mentioning my work Liz !
    And thanks for the links on Selvedges and Gussets, very interesting

    • lizhaywood on April 8, 2019 at 11:29 pm

      Cheers, Mylene, and thanks for reading.

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