Making Wendy Ward’s zero waste trousers

Some time ago I bought Wendy Ward‘s new book How to Sew Sustainably. Actually, I borrowed it from the library and liked it so much I bought a copy.

The book has clothes, accessories and home decor projects, with ideas for piecing fabrics, using scraps and refashioning clothes. It has a good overview of sewing basics and would be suitable for a beginner or experienced sewer.

I really liked the trousers and dress made using the same cutting concept, and wanted to try them. Cleverly, the dress is the trousers turned upside down with a neckhole cut. However, being completely honest, neither of them are “me” and I just couldn’t picture myself wearing them.

I thought of the trousers again after I tried making some low-crotch pajama shorts earlier this month, which weren’t 100% successful but the blog post’s comments had so many great ideas that you could say that it was a success in other ways. Encouraged, I thought I’d try the trousers in this book using a silky fabric.

In the past, I’ve had mixed results with low crotch trousers…

Here’s the ones I’ve just mentioned. They’ve only been worn once, and probably never again, but I think I can repurpose them into undies.
The experimental shorts The crushing verdict on the trampoline 2
Then there were the ones that only looked good in this trampoline pose.
Magi trousers 1
The highly successful magi trousers for a Christmas play, in maroon polyester (worn with a gold bolero, turban and jewels). They got worn long after Christmas, until they were grown out of.
The wrap trousers from the Zero Waste Sewing book. The low crotch is extremely comfortable, and is hidden by the wrap-over front and back.

So I’d say the rate of success is about 50/50.

The trousers in How to Sew Sustainably are cut from a single rectangle, and are a good example of a flowing garment cut from a geometric shape. It’s also an example of thinking differently about how the fabric covers the body instead of just a simple front and back.

For fabric, I used some navy silk from the op shop. It’s satiny one side (the reverse side) and matte on the other. It’s only 70cm wide.

Like many zero waste patterns, the pattern is drawn straight onto the fabric with custom dimensions to fit any size body. However, as I wanted to make it fit my 70cm fabric width, I needed to sort of reverse-engineer the pattern. Paper model to the rescue!

I found that this trouser pattern works with a particular minimum size fabric rectangle (ie bigger than 70cm) and I ended up sewing two lengths of fabric together, so mine have a central seam.

They went together pretty easily.

Mine are a bit shorter than the book’s.
Here they are spread out. There’s no back or front – this side has a horizontal seam and the other side is plain.

They fit me or my teen. She totally rocks them! I think she’ll wear them for lounging at home, but she might try them out as pajama bottoms.

Verdict: interesting and easy to sew, amazingly comfortable to wear (in part due to the silk), and after originally deciding this pattern was something I wouldn’t wear, I’ve changed my mind.



  1. Sue on November 28, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    Such an interesting post. I have to say that I wouldn’t wear these trousers, I could definitely not pull them off, but I do like them on others.

    • lizhaywood on November 28, 2022 at 10:54 pm

      Thanks Sue, it’s a pretty interesting pattern. I think the right fabric choice is very important with these.

  2. Wendy on November 29, 2022 at 3:30 am

    Very similar to the Stokx patterns Big Pants which aren’t sold zero waste but are a big rectangle with the addition of pockets and a knit waist band. I have been considering them, but I haven’t identified l the ‘right’ fabric. Your silk looks fab. I worry about being able to mark out accurately on shifty fabric and yet drape is important.
    I had black jersey trousers in this exotic style in the first half of the ‘90s. I remember the comfort and don’t remember being ridiculed so maybe I will get round to making something similar… Not high on my list at the moment.

    • lizhaywood on December 5, 2022 at 11:50 am

      Just had a look – yes, they are very similar. Definitely hold off making any until you get the “right” fabric – I think it’s the key.
      I’ve never considered wearing this style of trousers before. Too unorthodox for conservative moi!!

  3. Allyson on December 5, 2022 at 11:37 am

    I am not a fan of this style of pant unfortunately. I have a pattern for dance pantaloons where you measure your crotch sitting down, to get the centre back and front length, works a treat. Also with this dance pattern, only a bit of waste with the centre and back curves, plus a little around the waist, which I keep and reuse as patches/mending, applique etc. Otherwise there is no waste as the width of the pant leg is the width of the fabric. I use the pattern for basic gathered pants such as PJ pants.

    • lizhaywood on December 5, 2022 at 12:04 pm

      I think this is one of those very definite “yes or no” patterns with no middle ground!
      Your pattern sounds like an excellent basic one to have.

Leave a Comment