A bit of a waste…

Sometimes, a good idea just doesn’t work out.

I was interested in the idea of no-waste clothing, which uses up every last scrap of the stipulated fabric quantity to construct. In October last year, I bought online the how-to pdf of the steps to make a no-waste dress. I had some very pretty light linen fabric, I wanted something comfortable and loose, and I bought the larger of the two size options because the measurements in the description seemed to indicate this was the better choice for my size.

The layout was easy to follow, the measurements were clear, there were only a couple of instructions which were not totally clear, and it didn’t require any major sewing skills. There are several hacks to change the construction and appearance of the dress, all within the no-waste scope.


It’s perfectly awful. I could see it was heading for disaster, but I finished it and put it on. I wandered out to show the Husband. His instantaneous, unconsidered response was %$#@}&, that’s horrible”. Although this was not a response I’m used to from him (normally he manages to find something nice or supportive to say), I could not disagree. It’s monstrously enormous and shapeless. It’s a catastrophic Waste of perfectly nice fabric.

Before we go any further, I’m not going to publish the designer’s name; I don’t want to damage a small business person’s business and reviews of this pattern have been OK (perhaps for the smaller size). If you really want to know, you can contact me, but please don’t do it out of simple curiosity, only if you were thinking of doing something along the same lines yourself and wanted to avoid this particular pitfall. On a taller and even more generously built person, this might look dramatic and swoopy. I’m short, and it makes me look like a stumpy floral outhouse. With wings….

The problem with the pattern is, I think, because it was designed by and for a much smaller person, and the no-waste principle became forced when it was scaled up for larger body types, leading to inappropriate sizing.

I haven’t seen the layout for the smaller size, but I suspect it doesn’t use two full widths of the fabric for the skirt. Following the pattern piece dimensions exactly, I have ended up with a bodice which is 62 – yes, sixty-two, you read that right – inches around. The hem is 110 inches around. The arm scye hits me just above the elbow.

The shoulder seams are 12 inches long, and that’s after I put in three generous tucks on each side because I couldn’t see how it was going to fit a human body otherwise. The skirt joins onto the bodice at a really unflattering place in the bust area; 3 inches longer would have been more becoming and less lumpy.

There are three small scraps left once you have cut the pieces out: two long triangles and one small curved shape, all three left from cutting out the neck opening. In the interests of the no-waste principle, these are to be ‘stuck on’ to the garment without apparent practical function, simply as a decoration. I abandoned the triangles and made a sort of false facing from the curved piece to sew my maker’s label onto. A wasted effort, as it turns out.

I look as if I’m wearing a small tent, or perhaps a collapsed hot air balloon. I agree with the Husband that it looks horrible, so I’m not even happy wearing it for lounging around the house – why make us both miserable? I’m going to give it a bloody good hard look and see if I can take the scissors to it and rescue something wearable from this great big heap of, well, waste. Don’t get me wrong. I still believe in the no-waste principle, but I want something that isn’t just a load of random rectangles sewn together.

I do feel civilisation has moved on past the point of wanting simply to cover the body. These days we like a bit of style too.