Saturday, 21 August 2021

Zero Waste Cropped Shirt: Two Attempts


Earlier this summer I bought the ZW Cropped Shirt pattern by Swedish designer, Birgitta Helmersson. There are some really inspiring versions of this pattern on Instagram. Zero waste sewing patterns are unlike regular patterns in that you receive a set of measurements to help you draw shapes directly onto your fabric, rather than paper pieces to cut out and pin on to your fabric. There is zero or very little wasted fabric from this approach, so you often need far less fabric to begin with than with a typical sewing project. For example, the short sleeve version of this shirt in the smaller size range (there are two size ranges available covering bust sizes 33"- 40" and 41" -  50") requires just 90cm of fabric. 

(image source: Birgitta Helmersson)

Attempt #1:

For my first attempt, I used 1m of checked cotton that I thrifted (see below). I really enjoyed this new approach to garment creation, although the project fought me at every turn! Partly the problems occurred because the check is slightly different on each side and I kept messing up my right and wrong sides. The fabric was a little stiff for the sleeves, so I unpicked them, halved them and restitched. Sadly the proportions of this top just weren't right for me, so I found it a new loving home with my friend Sophie, and tried the pattern again a couple of months later when more suitable fabric appeared. 

Attempt #2:

For my second attempt, I used the leftovers of the curtain I used for my recent summer dungers. One of the things I really love about this pattern is how customisable to your own preferences it is. This time I narrowed the width of the body by 5cm front and back (so 10cm all round). I also used the original length (I'd lengthened it by about 5cm for the first version) and tried a version of the long, gathered sleeve hack that is covered in the pattern instructions. For the sleeves, I effectively just used as much of the fabric that I had left and thankfully, I'm thrilled with the volume and length that came out!


I've been wearing this a whole lot since making it. It works well as a top, of course, but also as a kind of summer jacket layer when the weather is a bit changeable. It can be layered over other tops, either buttoned up or left open.  

You can't see them very clearly, but the buttons are ones I've had in my stash for over a decade. I'm pretty sure they came from a market stall when I lived in Barcelona. They have the club symbol from playing cards on them. Playing card symbols have always had a significance for me, not least because I was a croupier for a couple of years in my early twenties! The background colour of the buttons is a dark grey, which suits this fabric perfectly because the black curtain is quite a washed out shade. 

What I'm most surprised about it how soft this curtain feels to wear! I'm definitely on the look out for similar curtains for other future sewing projects. It's such a great way to get a lot of fabric for relatively little money, plus they're often 100% cotton (therefore biodegradable and easily dyed), AND it's not creating additional need for virgin textiles. 

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