top of page

Zero Waste Sewing 

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Wild’s Lifestyle Editor, Megan Tarbuck speaks to Liz Haywood, author of Zero Waste Sewing. Liz talks all things sustainable in our Q&A on sustainable fashion. Megan also reviews her book “Zero Waste Sewing” and how sewing can contribute to the slow fashion movement.

So you’ve started 2020 armed with a sense of readiness for climate activism and a whole bunch of sustainable new year’s resolutions, but have you ever thought about making your own clothes? Liz Haywood’s Zero Waste Sewing guide is a lovely addition to any aspiring zero-waste sewer. The slow fashion movement promotes longer lasting and ethically made clothing. So is being able to make your own clothes better for the planet? Well that’s a matter of opinion, yet undoubtedly you’re probably more likely to take care of and repair something you’ve spent your own time creating. 

The Zero Waste Sewing guide provides fantastic zero waste patterns for various clothing items you could adapt yourself. Whilst some level of sewing knowledge is required, there are a host of sewing guides online and it’s such a valuable skill within the slow fashion movement. With books such as Liz’s, we can begin to close the distance between where our clothes have been made and where they’re worn. Reducing the miles on our clothes reduces emissions and putting ourselves in control of reducing wasteful practices are some benefits of sewing our own garments.

I spoke to Liz all things sustainable in our Q&A:

What does sustainability mean to you?

It’s an attitude of long-term thinking: making sure people in the future will be able to meet their needs after we have satisfied ours. 

What inspired you to create a book featuring zero waste? 

A mixture of circumstances.  I was already an experienced clothing patternmaker when I read Shaping Sustainable Fashion and then Zero Waste Fashion Design in 2016. I immediately clicked with the idea of zero waste patterns, and I was appalled by the amount of  pre-consumer textile waste generated by the fashion industry. I’d just written The Dressmaker’s Companion and saw that no-one had done a book of zero waste sewing patterns yet.  Hey, maybe that could be me!

Screenshot 2020-01-12 at 11.02.13

Liz’s book, Zero Waste Sewing

Less people decide to make their own clothes today, why should we be learning how to sew ourselves?

There are lots of great reasons!  You can be uniquely dressed, build a wardrobe of clothes that suit you and fit properly, connect with other lovely people who enjoy making clothes, have the satisfaction of making something with your own hands, appreciate clothes more, be able to mend the things you’ve made… and have the enjoyment of being the best dressed person in the room and saying Thanks, I made it myself.

Your first garment might not tick all of these boxes, but as I say to my students, no-one was born knowing how to sew.

Favourite eco products / sustainable tools?

Are mechanical pencils a sustainable choice? I use them all the time for writing, drawing and patternmaking and some are 30 years old and still working well. 

While I don’t know if my sewing tools were sustainably produced, I bought quality and take care of them. Some of them are 30 years old and still going strong with everyday use (2020 marks thirty years since I was a fresh-faced fashion student – I’ve come a long way since then but haven’t lost the passion).

What does fast fashion mean to you?

Fast fashion clothes are so much less than clothes can or should be.  Cheap fabrics, cheap construction, no substance or longevity.

Beyond the actual clothes, fast fashion exploits countless people who are already poor.  Sweatshops are absolutely crushing places to work and the greed in this industry sickens me.

Explain your wardrobe! Do you still purchase fast fashion or do you try and make your own clothes?

My own wardrobe is almost entirely me-made and I love everything in it.  Testament to a lifetime anti-fast-fashion passion!

I like fashion but I rarely buy clothes, and am rarely tempted to (to be fair, we now live on a rural property in Australia, so there aren’t many shopping opportunities).  I purchase spencers, vests and sometimes socks, and that’s probably it. Knickers? I wear me-made ones and they’re the best I’ve ever worn 🙂

Are you working on any projects at the moment?

Projects this year include more experiments with zero waste patterns, promoting Zero Waste Sewing, teaching sewing classes and getting better at making videos.

What’s your 2020 sustainable or zero waste new years resolution?

My resolution is to talk to my children about why we do the things we do in our household, to understand the importance of thriftiness, where stuff comes from and what happens to it when we throw it away.  They already know about zero waste pattern cutting though!

About the Author: Liz Haywood is the author of Zero Waste Sewing and The Dressmaker’s Companion, you can find her blog here.

Liz is from Australia, where the air is so thick with smoke, it hurts her eyes to leave the house. Its is estimated that up to 1 billion wild animals have perished, 2,000 homes have been lost and 27 people have lost their lives, and the unprecedented wildfires are continuing to burn.

If you could donate anything at all to support the brave firefighters, wildlife rescuers or help out the thousands that have lost their homes, please check out the links below:

2. Donate to CFS Foundation – supporting volunteer firefighters

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page