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Create, Make, Zero Waste

By Kate Whittaker & Donna Cleveland


The fast fashion industry is a considerable environmental polluter in the world. At every stage of the linear manufacturing process we are creating waste. The process of cutting the clothing pattern from the textile resource is one of the most wasteful, with up to 20% of the fabric landing on the cutting room floor. These textile offcuts are typically sent to landfill with catastrophic results on our environment. This presentation demonstrates an alternative solution to patterning that creates zero waste fashion. The design was inspired by natures’ inherently waste free ecosystem where every aspect of a biological system provides food nutrients and energy for another part of the system. Using principles of biomimicry, the project demonstrates how to create a fashion garment that generates no waste and every part of the valuable textile can be used in the development of the garment. The garment uses an innovative zero waste pattern technique where every centimetre of the digitally printed fabric, selvedge to selvedge, is used in the construction of the garment. All aspects of the pattern including the cutting and sewing instructions, trims, pockets and a designer label are included in the new print. Consumers upload their favourite images, and these are then used to design the patterns shapes and colours. In this way customers can customise their own designs. This is done through an easy to use online process that allows customers to be able to customise their own patterns and colours and offers them some creative control over the look of the garment. The traditional printing and pattern cutting instructions are then used as tessellated pattern and colour for the final garment, meaning that no fabric needs to be cut off. The pattern also includes a key or formula for people to use as a guide for making the pattern, this will also allow consumers to be able to cut and sew the pattern themselves. This has the potential to slow the speed of fashion manufacturing down and let consumers re-connect with their textiles. Theory has shown that when people have a personal connection with an item of clothing, they are less likely to throw it away.

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Kate Whittaker

Auckland University of Technology

My name is Kate Whittaker I am currently doing a Masters of Creative Technology in the school of future environments at Auckland University of technology. This work has been co-authored with Dr. Donna Cleveland the Associate Head of Learning and Teaching for the school of future environments at Auckland University of Technology. The aim of this project was to create a zero-waste garment inspired by natures’ naturally waste-free ecosystem. The fast fashion industry is arguably the second biggest global polluter, after oil. At every stage of our linear manufacturing process, we are creating waste. However, nature creates no waste and that’s how we need to start designing. 

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