Book Review: Zero Waste Nähen

It’s my pleasure to review Stephanie Kroth’s new book Zero Waste Nähen. Nähen translates as sew or stitch, and this book is a collection of 25 zero waste sewing patterns.

Cover of book titled Zero Waste Nähen by Stefanie Kroth.

[In the interests of full disclosure, I offered to review this book when I heard it was coming out, as I thought you would like to read about it. I was sent a pdf, for free, for review purposes.]

As you may guess from the title, this book is all in German. The author, Stefanie Kroth, is a patternmaker in Germany. I actually met Stefanie at one of Zero Waste Design Online‘s community calls, such is the small world of zw patterncutting.

There are some really interesting styles in this book – it’s sort of like Burda magazine meets zero waste. There are also some fabulously innovative cutting layouts, showing that zero waste straddles sustainable fashion and creative patterncutting.

Some of the patterns are designed for men or could be gender neutral. The book contains only adult clothes patterns, no accessories or homewares.

Oversized zero waste coat from book Zero Waste Nähen by Stefanie Kroth.
I’m rather enamored with this coat. Boiled wool, maybe?
Man wearing zero waste clothes sewn from Zero Waste Nähen by Stefanie Kroth.
Head-to-toe zero waste here: top, vest and trousers.
Woman wearing blouse, skirt and long line cardigan sewn from book Zero Waste Nähen by Stefanie Kroth.
More head-to-toe zero waste: blouse, skirt and long-line short sleeve cardigan.

All the styles in the book can be viewed on Stefanie’s website. There are patterns to suit beginners to advanced.

It wouldn’t be a proper review if I didn’t make something, so I gave the leggings pattern a whirl.

Zero waste leggings and top from book Zero Waste Nähen by Stefanie Kroth.
Zero waste leggings sketch by Stefanie Kroth from her book Zero Waste Nähen.
Zero waste leggings cut and ready to sew, from book Zero Waste Nähen by Stefanie Kroth.
As with many zero waste patterns, the pattern pieces are unrecognizable shapes. And in this case, unrecognizable names – you can see the English I wrote in.
It was incredibly quick to cut out. No measuring grainlines – I just plonked it on the folded fabric and pinned. I cut it out through both layers of fabric and the paper pattern. I know, kind of naughty on the fabric scissors, but the pieces could be cut apart first with paper scissors and pinned separately.

These took 103cm x 85.5cm of fabric.

They went together fairly quickly, without incident. I stitched the pockets on with a twin needle, and did the hems to match. The one in the book looks like they used a cover stitch machine.

Flat lay photo of zero waste leggings.

My 11 year old tried them on first. She still has a child’s figure but is fairly tall for her age, and has hips 34″ (the pattern is designed for hips 38″). The waist is too high for her but easy to fix (I said she could have them). She liked the pockets.

Zero waste leggings, front and back view, on child.

Then I tried them on. I have hips 40″, so they’re really a size too small for me but the fabric is stretchy enough. The waist is high but OK. The length is slightly cropped which I can see is the same on the model.

Edit: if I made these again, I might try using the pocket pieces to make a secret pocket in the waist.

Zero waste leggings, back and front views, worn by Liz Haywood.

Verdict: good. I’m impressed with this pattern.

The nitty-gritty:

How easy was this book to use, given that it’s in German? Apart from the language barrier, it was fine. As I had a pdf, it was fairly easy to copy-and-paste text into Google Translate to read bits. However, the book is currently only available as a paperback, not an ebook. The sewing instructions are mainly text, except for a few diagrams in some patterns to show unusual construction. It’s possible to translate from a printed book via Google docs, or type text into Google Translate using alt codes for the special German letters. While I couldn’t have used the book without translating, there were helpful schematics. Each pattern shows front, side and back sketches. The cutting layouts are shown for each size, along with an overview of how the pieces are arranged to make the garment. There are close-up photos of garment details which were really helpful.

The size range is not extensive. All the patterns come in two sizes: Size 1 fits Bust 88cm/34.5″, Waist 75cm/29.5″, Hip 97cm/38″. Size 2 fits Bust 106cm/41.5″, Waist 95cm/37.5″, Hip 114cm/45″. Just going by the leggings I made, I’d confirm the sizing runs true to the chart. It’s easy to see that some of the garments could be variable in size – all the waists have elastic in them, and items such as the coat, parka and cape could fit several sizes.

The book’s patterns can be accessed in two ways:

In the book, the cutting layouts are overlaid with a 5cm x 5cm grid, so you can enlarge them manually.
Otherwise, all the patterns can be downloaded from Stefanie’s website.
They are not tiled for A4 paper, but you can do this when you print them from Adobe Acrobat.
Select “poster” and it will tile the pages for printing. Choose an overlap amount – I selected 1/2″. It prints out with little marks at the corners to align the pages. This can be cross-checked with the finished size of the layout.

Where to buy. Zero Waste Nähen is available direct from the publisher, Stiebner, if you live in Germany or the EU. It can also be bought from The Book Depository. It looks like German Amazon has it too.

So…maybe one for the Christmas gift list?



  1. Nicola on October 4, 2022 at 4:22 am

    Great review. Of all the patterns I really like the look of the blazer. Like you say, it isn’t just zero-waste, there is some creative pattern-making going on there too.

    • lizhaywood on October 4, 2022 at 7:59 am

      Thank you. Yes, some great silhouettes and creative details in this book.

  2. Michelle Cahill on October 4, 2022 at 8:59 am

    Wow, that is a great book. I’m intrigued by the sweatshirt. Simple but a wardrobe staple. The jacket is super cool though too

    • lizhaywood on October 4, 2022 at 11:44 am

      Yep, some pretty cool things to make 🙂

  3. Janet on October 5, 2022 at 1:51 am

    Oof! Only two sizes… such a shame it’s not accessible.

    • lizhaywood on October 5, 2022 at 11:53 am

      Alas, apparently she ran out of space in the book to for fitting/size modification advice, but is thinking of doing online explanations for this. You can contact her via Instagram @stefanie_kroth or website for what you are most interested in.

  4. Chris Nielsen on October 6, 2022 at 3:48 am

    Thanks for the suggestion of The Book Depository. I had found the book elsewhere but the shipping charges were way too high. Free shipping from TBD for the win!

    • lizhaywood on October 6, 2022 at 3:25 pm

      I think you will like this book, Chris.

  5. Michele on October 8, 2022 at 9:26 am

    You don’t have to translate bit by bit. You can go to Google Translate, select “documents” in the top left hand corner, and it will let you select the whole downloaded pdf and translate it in its entirety.

    • lizhaywood on October 8, 2022 at 10:18 am

      Thanks Michele, that will be very useful indeed.

  6. Ineke on November 15, 2022 at 4:12 am

    I have bought the book this week! I learned German in school, so i will manage. Cant wait to sew something 🙂

    • lizhaywood on November 15, 2022 at 10:14 am

      You will love this book!

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