Zero-Waste Pattern Design represents a sustainability concept in which the goal is to reduce or eliminate wasted fabric from the cutting process at the pattern making stage. When one realizes that in order to meet this goal the entire design process must be drastically different, it soon becomes apparent that this is a full change in paradigm. The designer of garment is not the traditional fashion designer but is now the pattern designer, the person who cuts the cloth. The pattern is conceived to reduce waste and that pattern design produces the look of the garment, not vice versa. For a further explanation with photographs please see my recent article for Threads Magazine. There are also other resources in clothing and textiles on this approach; handweavers, for example, focused on reducing waste because the textile was quite valuable. Therefore, a number of weaving resources recommend such patterns, notably Virginia West's books.
I have taught classes using this system and the resulting design quality is often unexpected but always contemporary and very much fashion forward.
A leading practiciner of this approach is Timo Rissanen who is currently on faculty for that topic at Parson's in New York, a break from his doctorate work in Australia. Also working actively in this are Holly McQuillan, also in Australia, Sam Formo in San Francisco and Mark Liu in London. Holly works with tesselation concepts and Mark with a method called the jigsaw cut. Their work will be displayed in the US when a planned exhibit reaches New York from Down Under next year.
To the left is a recent Subtraction Cut gown created by Timo at Kent State New York Studio as part of the 2010 Julian Roberts Tour last month, using zero-waste principles. It is a stunning example of the possibilities using this design system. Below is his famous jacket with its pattern as featured in Threads magazine.