Finished! A Year of Zero Waste Sewing: November and December

Yesterday afternoon I finished the final instalment of what’s turned out to be a two-year project, A Year of Zero Waste Sewing. It’s a book I’m experimentally publishing in instalments as zines.

Each zine comes as a file to print out at home (it prints out on 3 double-sided pieces of paper, which are folded in half to make 12 pages), with an accompanying file for on-screen reading. All 11 zines are now in my shop and only AU$5 each (+tax). January is complimentary and can be downloaded here – please note I updated it a few weeks ago.

A Year of Zero Waste Sewing is an eclectic mix of zero waste patterncutting techniques, ideas for garment longevity, sewing patterns, FAQs and stories from zero waste designers. Its intention is to give practical ways of making zero waste sewing patterns and reducing waste within a bigger picture of responsible fashion.

Here’s what’s inside November and December


The theme of November is grading strategies for zero waste.

It’s been said by some that “grading zero waste patterns is impossible”, but it is possible, just a different approach.

Grading can be a big sticking point with making a zero waste pattern. With zero waste, the cutting layout IS the pattern. If you make the pieces bigger, they won’t fit on the fabric, and if you make them smaller, there’ll be gaps and it won’t be zero waste anymore. With regular patternmaking, the pattern pieces are graded before they’re arranged in a cutting layout, and are independant of how they’ll fit together. But with zero waste, the grading needs to be considered as the layout is being made. So unless you’re only doing one size, you can’t avoid it in the pattern planning.

Please note that this zine doesn’t actually teach you how to grade a pattern – there’s no way I could fit that in one zine! Rather, it shows strategies for being able to grade a pattern within a cutting layout. (If you’d like a crash/refresher course in pattern grading, I recommend Making the Grade, a course I presented for Zero Waste Design Collective. But now I think about it, a series of how-to pattern grading zines could be a good future project. Hmmm…)

Also in this zine is an interview with Cris Wood, designer of the tremendously popular envelope dress and other zero/low waste patterns for people of all sizes, shapes and sewing skill levels.

Ask Lizzy asks what mistakes I’ve made with zero waste (lots!), and if there are any construction finishes more suitable for zero waste clothes than others.


December has taken longer than any other zine to write. I wondered if it would ever get finished! The theme is using pleats for zero waste clothes, and it features a pattern for a pleated top.

The top uses an unusual pleating technique devised by origami artist Chris K Palmer and is detailed in the book Shadowfolds by Jeffrey Rutzky and Chris K Palmer. If you’ve ever done Canadian smock work, the concept is similar, where stitching is done at the back of the fabric to create pleats at the front (think: 1970s velour sofa throw-cushions, but this pleating lies flat).

This is a pattern for the experienced sewer, and not what I would call a “five-minute make” – more like a 2+ day make! However, the top is very unique, like nothing you would ever be able to buy in a shop, and a very wearable way to try this pleating technique. There’s an accompanying sew-a-long video.

The sizes fit from an 86cm/34″ bust to a 178cm/70″ bust. The top has a bound neckline and underarms, a back neck opening, side panels, optional bust darts and can be made any length. It’s very low waste with rectangular pattern pieces.

Here’s a gallery of makes:

I made a dress version and wore it to the Craft of Clothes staff Christmas party.
In beautiful organic linen.
Here’s another one in linen. Cottons and linens work best for the pleats because they press into crisp folds.
It’s really great in stripes; in fact, striped fabrics make doing the pleats easier.

December also features designer Gregory Lagola of Gregory Joseph, a demi-couture made-to-measure company based in New York, creating the kind of spectacular gowns one would wear to a dinner at the White House.

The final Ask Lizzy asks if there have been any positive surprises about designing zero waste clothes, and how can zero waste patterncutting be more widely adopted in the fashion industry.

The December zine comes with a one-page centrefold containing the templates for making the top, or alternatively you can print out a pdf file (A4 or US Letter) of the templates.

Front and Back matter

Included with December, and also available free here, are two smaller zines containing the front and back matter in case you wish to hand bind all the zines into your own book. The front one has title page, contents, etc, and the back has an index, bibliography, about the author etc.

I cannot offer any advice on binding books, sorry, except to look on YouTube for tutorials. I’m sure you’ll find something useful.

The end goal of this project is to publish an actual book, of the sort you’d find in a bookshop, and I’ll be doing this early in the New Year.

This is the last post for 2023, and The Craft of Clothes blog is now on holidays until late January. Mr H and I wish you a relaxing and fun Christmas and festive season, and time at the beach or making snowmen (whichever applies to your hemisphere).

Many thanks for reading and following my zero waste adventures.

Cheers! Liz x


  1. Sue on December 16, 2023 at 11:46 pm

    I am so excited these are finally here! I can’t wait to have a go at the pleats, they will make a lovely Christmas project.

    • lizhaywood on December 16, 2023 at 11:59 pm

      You and me both, Sue! You will enjoy the pleats.

      • Laurinda on December 17, 2023 at 5:14 am

        Those pleats are really intriguing

      • lizhaywood on December 17, 2023 at 5:32 pm

        I found them kind of mind-blowing!!!

  2. juls on December 17, 2023 at 12:16 am

    Congratulations on getting your book done! I am really looking forward to reading the rest!! That pleated top is beautiful! Have a terrific end of year/ New Year‘s begin!
    best, Juls

    • lizhaywood on December 17, 2023 at 5:24 pm

      Many thanks Juls, and I hope you have a great New Year too 🙂

  3. Victoria Moore on December 17, 2023 at 1:55 am

    In case you sometimes worry that no one is reading your newsletters, I just wanted to say “hello” and tell you I really enjoy them. I even looked up some of your locations mentioned on a map, since we are in very different environs. Winter greetings from Olympia, Washington (USA), just south of Seattle.

    • lizhaywood on December 17, 2023 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks for reading, Victoria. I never really know who reads them (although I can see the “open rate”) or where in the world they end up, so I appreciate your comment very much. Greetings from sunny South Australia.

  4. Kerrie O’Connor on December 17, 2023 at 6:33 am

    Such an achievement Liz and so important to keep the zero-waste breakthroughs coming. It must have been so hard sometimes to keep the flame alive through long COVID, but you did. I just love the pleated top.

    • lizhaywood on December 17, 2023 at 5:35 pm

      Cheers, Kerrie. I think zero waste patterncutting has come a good way in the past 4 years and I look forward to when no-one has to say clothes are “sustainable” or “zero waste” etc because it’s too normal.
      Long Covid = lots of thinking time!!

  5. Isabel Fox on December 17, 2023 at 6:49 am

    Thanks Liz for another entertaining, thoughtful and practical year of sewing goodies. Enjoy the Christmas New Year holiday/break and hope you are feeling much better and full of energy in 2024. I love my time reading your blog with so many links to interesting and fun facts, ideas and tutorial notions. Best wishes from a long time fan!!

    • lizhaywood on December 17, 2023 at 5:38 pm

      Thanks so much for long-time reading, Isabel. Yes, looking forward to 2024 – have just had my first Long Covid clinic appointment and have a list of new things to try. I hope you have a great 2024.

  6. Elena on December 17, 2023 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks for thinking of adding the front and back matter!

    I’ve been planning to print and bind together the zines since you started publishing them, and those are a really nice touch.

    • lizhaywood on December 17, 2023 at 9:09 pm

      No worries – I’m planning to do the same thing myself!

  7. Kerrie O’Connor on December 17, 2023 at 9:11 pm

    Have my eye on some black and white gingham in silk cotton for the pleated top.

    • lizhaywood on December 17, 2023 at 9:15 pm


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