February and March: A Year of Zero Waste Sewing

Back in March I announced a new book project, A Year of Zero Waste Sewing, to be published in installments as a zine. The first one is complimentary – read about this project and download your free copy here.

I’ve now finished the next two, which are in my shop for $AU5each (+ tax). Here’s a bit about them:


February installment of A Year of Zero Waste Sewing

Let it be said that A Year of Zero Waste Sewing is not afraid to tackle the hard subjects: incorporating curves in zero waste patterns. I show-and-tell the design process for my current project, a blouse with a Peter Pan collar.

An early first sample. This will eventually become a pdf pattern in multiple sizes.
I’ve got some pink thread to make thread buttons for it, from instructions in the January installment.

Do you use selvedges in your designs much? Maybe you want to start using them more? Some handy ideas.

The Spotlight on… section has been changed to Zero Waste Stories. Read about Liz Elliot of Thread Faction Studio who designs zero waste patterns for children.

Ask Lizzy gives her frank opinions on cutting across the fabric and if one needs training in regular patternmaking before attempting zero waste.


March installment of A Year of Zero Waste Sewing

In March, read about Birgitta Helmersson’s zero waste story.

Ask Lizzy airs her thoughts on zero and minimal waste, and confronts that controversial question of whether it’s cheating to use pieces for applique in a zero waste pattern.

There’s a bit about modular patterns, which I’m a big fan of, and most of the space is taken up with a pattern for a modular jacket. Is it possible to fit instructions for 20 sizes into 8 x A5 pages? I gave it a crack!

Line drawings of the modular jacket in March - A Year of Zero Waste Sewing

I’m not inventing the wheel here – this is an easy-fitting jacket made with simple shapes, but it looks good on everyone who’s tried it on.

It’s minimal waste, potentially zero waste.

Modular jacket worn by Liz
I made it in some lightweight chambray, and cut the collar in some beautiful Japanese fabric which was given to me.
It looks a bit like a jacket being worn with a scarf.
Back view of modular jacket, worn by Liz
Here’s a back view with the belt done up.
The sleeves are tapered.
The jacket can be any length you like.
Modular jacket in black check wool, worn by Liz
I also made it in some black checked napped wool coating, with the collar cut in the same fabric.
Liz and her mum in modular jackets
When I visited Mum, we tried them on together.
As a guide to size, I measure B35-W30-H40 and both of these jackets are size C. I think Mum is the about same size as me.
Nigelle-ann outside her bookshop, wearing a modular jacket
Nigelle-ann, outside her bookshop. Her jacket is in chambray with another special Japanese fabric for the collar.
Modular jacket worn by Liz
Before Nigelle-ann’s was finished, I tried it on (size Q). I like it!
Large modular jacket worn by Liz
Even belted, I quite like the volume.
Large modular jacket worn by Liz
Modular jacket worn by Liz's sister
My sister tried it on too, and looked great in it. We both liked it long.
Modular jacket size chart

The instructions are necessarily brief, but with lots of illustrations to follow. There’s scope to adjust the jacket according to your preference or to fit the fabric you have.

UPDATE: Sue Stoney made this jacket using a blanket.



  1. Anne Davies on May 11, 2022 at 2:38 pm

    These issues sound fantastic, Liz.

    At the moment I am taking a break from zero-waste sewing. It’s a concept still dear to my heart, but my wardrobe finally came down to two tops and two jeans that I could wear on a daily basis for living my life. My zero waste garments are fabulous, but they are ‘icing’ garments, so to speak. So, with a heavy heart, I have put all my efforts towards sewing conventional patterns to give me some t-shirts, trousers, fleece jackets etc etc. Not zero waste, but functional. I assuage my guilt by reminding myself I have not bought clothes in years and years …hence the need for a quick fix now!

    My thoughts are also turning towards sewing for spring, and one of the garments I know I need is a shirt. I do not own a pattern yet for that, so maybe I shall be giving your (still-in-the-works) blouse pattern a go. Curve friendly…just what I need. Maybe that will be the bridge pattern between conventional and zero waste patterns that I so desperately need.

    I have also been ruminating on where to go with my sewing after my capsule wardrobe is complete. I don’t want to sew unnecessary clothes, nor do I have space to keep them. I have been thinking I would like to make arty jackets out of my huge stash of scraps. Maybe even selling some. Just to keep me occupied. So I am absolutely thrilled to see your jacket pattern! I was going to go the conventional route and buy a princess-seam pattern, but your collar is drawing my attention. And the underarm gussets.

    Enjoying your writing, can’t wait for next instalment.

    • lizhaywood on May 11, 2022 at 4:04 pm

      Hi Anne,
      Thank you so much for your kind comments.
      You’re in the special position of “starting afresh” with a wardrobe, with the valuable hindsight of knowing what suits you, style and lifestyle-wise. Don’t beat yourself up about using regular patterns – there are relatively very few zw home sewing patterns available (I guess more than 100 but much less than 200) and the odds of finding exactly what you want are low.
      The jacket would be very suitable for arty scrap busting. Have you heard of Pojagi? It’s sewing scraps together to make shapes to use for clothes. @werkleray on Insta has been experimenting with it. She says it takes a long time to do but it looks good. https://www.instagram.com/p/CSWhaALgc9p/
      Best sewing wishes!

      • Anne Davies on May 11, 2022 at 5:58 pm

        I had to google Pojagi!! That looks really interesting…and given me a whole lot of ideas for re-using old clothes. Thanks for that link

      • lizhaywood on May 11, 2022 at 5:59 pm

        I had to google it too!

  2. Michelle Shaffer on May 11, 2022 at 9:47 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to this next installment of my zero waste adventure. I have some sheer embroidered material that I think will be great for this pattern to make more of an evening type jacket. Thanks!

    • lizhaywood on May 12, 2022 at 9:36 am

      Many thanks Michelle 🙂 That sounds like it will be a very beautiful and unusual jacket!

  3. Sara on May 12, 2022 at 11:22 am

    H Liz, Love all the inspiration from February and March project books. I can’t wait for you to be selling the short sleeve shirt pattern – so very clever! The actual design is great, and it is interesting to understand how you create such a pattern.
    As for the selvedges, only yesterday I saw a shirt made from chambray with a frayed edge inserted like piping around all the borders, including the collar. Looked wonderful. At the time I thought ‘I can make that’, and now I know how to do it using selvedges! It was $250 (so I definitely only be making it).
    I enjoy looking at clothes and identifying different elements which can be added to a basic pattern. I guess this made me think about your article regarding using up scraps for embellishing. I find it a very legitimate use of scraps and don’t really see it as cheating per se, as I think this is the power of the home sewist, to go a step further and add character or a personal stamp to a garment. It also doesn’t bother me if ZW takes slightly more fabric than a regular pattern, as there is minimal waste. Mind you it never ceases to amaze me how little fabric some of you ZW patterns take.

    • lizhaywood on May 12, 2022 at 1:26 pm

      Thanks for reading Sara 🙂 You are right about the power of the home sewist – there is much more freedom and prerogative!

  4. Barbara Sherlock on May 13, 2022 at 9:55 pm

    I’ve really enjoyed February and March booklets. I’d like to make a comment (not criticism) about zero waste patterns and fit, I tried your shirt but found it didn’t suit me because I couldn’t make pattern adjustments without losing the purpose of the pattern. I have to make adjustments for a very rounded back, forward shoulders and uneven shoulders. I think that I can probably make some adjustments to the jacket for shoulders and I also think the lovely collar will cover my back problems. I wonder if minimal waste patterns might offer more chances for adjustments. If you play around with cutting layouts on conventional patterns you can sometimes reduce material waste.

    Both the wrap skirt and the culottes were easy to make and were easy to tweek to my requirements. They look really good and are great to wear. Good work Liz.

    • lizhaywood on May 14, 2022 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks for reading Barbara 🙂
      That’s a good point you’ve brought up about doing alterations on zero waste patterns. It’s one of the big challenges – to make patterns adjustable and to anticipate what kind of adjustments might be needed. Minimal waste may or may not offer more chances; like many things in sewing, “it depends” but often there’s more wiggle room.
      I’m sorry the shirt didn’t suit you – alas, it’s impossible to adjust at the shoulders because of all the seam detail there. However, the March jacket is much simpler in the shoulder department and will be easy to tweak. So lovely to hear you enjoyed the wrap skirt and culottes.

  5. Barbara Sherlock on May 15, 2022 at 10:11 am

    Thank you for replying, Liz. I’m looking forward to ruing he jacket pattern and I do think I can make adjustments at the shoulders.

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