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How to Sew a Zero-Waste Top

Draft, cut, and sew—and leave no remnants behind
Threads #219, Fall 2022
Make good use of your fabric all the way to the selvages in this clever design. Pattern: Author’s original design. Fabric: lightweight denim, Fabric.com.

Are you ready to skip the scraps? Try making this versatile “ almost zero waste” blouse I designed for the Threads/Association of Sewing and Design Professionals 2021 Salvage & Selvage Challenge (see the winning garment in Threads #218, Summer 2022). Zero-waste design wasn’t a requirement of the challenge, but it fit with the theme of upcycling and reducing fabric usage, and I wanted to incorporate it into my ensemble.

There are a few reasons for my interest in zero-waste design. I previously worked in garment manufacturing and was alarmed by the wastefulness I saw in the industry. Now I’ve challenged myself to reduce the impact of my sewing and design work. Also, using fabric efficiently speaks to my frugal farm upbringing. Many resources have gone into growing or manufacturing the fiber and making it into fabric: I do not want to squander it. Along with those benefits, minimizing waste in my sewing reduces scraps and the total yardage needed to create a garment. That means less clutter in my sewing room and potentially less money spent on fabric.

Creating the blouse was challenging but fun—a lot like putting a puzzle together. First, I determined the general size and shape of the pieces based on a vintage inspiration pattern. Then I figured out how to fit all the pieces into a zero-waste layout. In this article, I offer instructions for two sizes. Once you are familiar with how the pattern works, it’s easy to adjust the design to make a larger or smaller size. The pattern may no longer be almost zero waste, but it still produces fewer scraps than a conventional blouse pattern. I hope you find drafting and sewing the blouse just as much fun as I did.

Gather Tools and Materials

This project calls for little in…

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  1. Deleted | | #1

    “[Deleted]”

  2. stasher | | #2

    Where is the WEB EXTRA printable yoke pattern?

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