Betz White is here today for Digital Delivery Sewing Month with some information about the zero-waste trend in the sewing industry. Betz knows all about the green movement as it relates to the sewing industry; she is the author of the popular Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made with Repurposed & Organic Materials and Betz White Make New or Make Do™ Sewing Patterns. Betz also has a line of Betz White Organic Textiles, and she can repurpose a sweater in truly amazing ways!

We’re pleased to offer 20% off all Betz White PDF Sewing Patterns in the shop. Felt a sweater of your own (or use wool blend craft felt) to create a Springtime Sewing Set, some Sweet Shoppe Ornaments, Forest Friends Slippers and more!

From Betz: When I went to college for Fashion Design, one of my professors said, “Fashion is evolutionary, not revolutionary.” That saying often comes to mind when I think about how much the sewing industry has evolved, especially in the digital age we live in. The ease and immediateness in which the internet offers us inspiration, information, entertainment and education is mind boggling. With a credit card and an internet connection, we have ability to not only purchase something, but to receive it instantaneously, as in the case of digitally delivered sewing patterns.

Olive Swing Bag

One of my favorite reasons to buy digitally delivered sewing patterns is an environmental one. Electronic patterns save on resources immensely. Since they are “printed on demand,” they reduce waste; there is no stock potentially piling up somewhere, ultimately getting tossed in the landfill after the style has stopped selling. Patterns delivered digitally not only save on shipping costs (versus a hard copy sent from manufacturer to shop, shop to customer) but also saves the environmental costs of freight, i.e.: petroleum, pollution, etc. Digital patterns also reduce material use because they are not delivered in plastic packaging necessary for shelf presence in stores.

Sewing green napkins, photo by John Gruen.

Many of us in the crafting community are well versed in the ways of creating in an eco-friendly manner. Whether we are using repurposed materials, saving scraps for smaller projects or making reusable items like grocery bags or cloth napkins, we are savvy to the green movement.

Another facet of the green movement emerging in the fashion design industry is that of zero-waste. The term zero-waste describes a technique of designing clothes where there are no scraps left after the garment is cut out. Currently the industry wastes about 15% of fabric used in garment construction. Zero-waste designers must truly innovate by specifically engineering their designs to not only look great but reduce waste and, by doing so, even cut manufacturing costs. Sometimes it means creating pattern pieces that fit together like a puzzle, other times it means no cutting but folding, draping and stitching the fabric into shape.

The concept of zero-waste has existed for centuries (think of the Japanese kimono, comprised of a single bolt of a fabric) but the design practice has been gaining momentum the past few years in the United States. In New York, Parsons the New School for Design (of Project Runway fame) offered its first course in zero-waste fashion last year.

Columbia College in Chicago had an exhibit just this month at the A+D Gallery called Zero Waste. (View the exhibit catalog here.)

And designers like Mark Liu and the company Carga Bags base their design philosophies on zero-waste.

As someone that is mindful of the planet (and my wallet!) the concept of zero-waste fascinates me. And as a pattern designer, I have dabbled a bit in zero-waste design when repurposing. I’ve always loved the challenge of designing within constraints that make me stand on my head and wrack my brain. Repurposing an item or constructing something without cutting or creating waste is like cracking a code.

10-Minute Pillowcase Apron

But it doesn’t have to be complicated! To keep the process simple I begin with a basic item, such as a pillowcase. Take my 10-Minute Pillowcase Apron, for example. Just make a few simple folds, stitch a few seams, and you’ve got a new apron. No cutting = no scraps!

Isabella Tote made from a pillowcase.

My Isabella Tote, a style from my Make New or Make Do™ Sewing Pattern collection, uses a pillowcase in it’s entirety. Interfacing and thread are required, but not a scrap of pillowcase is discarded. (Of course this can be made with one yard of fabric as well with very minimal waste). I’ll be experimenting more and offering more low/no waste sewing patterns in the future.

Isabella Tote and Mini Izzy

Zero-waste is just another way we can add “reduce” to our beloved “reuse and recycle” in our eco-crafting habits. Whether we’re purchasing ePatterns online, using organic fabrics or repurposing vintage linens, every little bit helps the planet and the people that live here.

More on the topic:

We’re glad you’re joining us for Digital Delivery Sewing Month!

Today we’re pleased to offer 20% off all Betz White PDF Sewing Patterns in the shop.