Math in Fashion + Zero Waste

Math and geometry are an integral part of fashion, especially when it comes to fabric cutting and waste. Standard pattern making generates approximately 15-20% of fabric waste in modern day manufacturing.

A few days ago I worked on cutting some thigh high leg warmers and regular (at the knee) leg warmers out of cotton fleece fabric. The pattern pieces for the regular leg warmers turned out to have a little bit of fabric waste. While part of the thigh high pattern had zero wasted fabric. 

I can get 4 pairs of regular leg warmers out of one yard of fabric, with a little waste leftover. I fold the fabric twice - once vertically and once horizontally. I do this so I can cut 4 layers of fabric at once. I placed the pattern piece upright on the fabric and then rotated it 180 degrees. The shaded area is waste fabric. 

I make the thigh high leg warmers out of two different fabrics. I can get 4 thigh high leg warmer tops from a little less than a yard of fabric. I wasn't sure how I was going to get 4 thigh highs out of one yard of fabric. With a little maneuvering I figured out the best placement of the pattern pieces. By placing the pattern piece on the folded edge of the fabric it created more space. Placing the other pattern piece on the cut edge made it possible for one more pair. But there will be a seam down the front and back of that pair of leg warmers. It's a design element I can deal with. I consider this part of the pattern for the thigh highs zero waste pattern making. I eliminated fabrics waste from the pattern.

The bottom part of the thigh highs have minimal waste. 

Here are the completed sewn thigh highs:

My thoughts on zero waste pattern making will appear in the next installment. Read an excerpt below.

Those who incorporate zero waste, design discarded materials to become resources for other uses. Sometimes I incorporate zero waste pattern making in my designs - where zero fabric scraps are left behind. Other times I deal with the consequences of not throwing anything away. For years I've collected tiny unusable fabric scraps and thread. I finally found a way to use them - in stuffing for pillows. In particular, I've used the fabric scraps in stuffing for pet beds. I had the idea to make pet beds and donate them to the local animal shelter. 

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