MAKEUSE is a research project exploring user modifiable zero waste fashion garments. Developed as part of Local Wisdom, this project provides stages of intervention accessible to both Makers and Users of fashion. All too often users are merely passive consumers, purchasing and discarding the garments that build their wardrobe with little opportunity to engage with a richer understanding of the garments role in their lives. Website to come.
When I design I don’t sketch the finished design – like what you can see on the right side of the page spread, I sketch the pattern roughly first (image on ruled paper), then I cut and sew the garment up, designing on the mannequin and body as I go, and then will sketch the pattern further as it gets more resolved and I might sketch the finished garment afterwards. I do this because otherwise I am limiting myself, shutting down ideas of form and fall before they have even formed. So, for me a pattern is a sketch.
The design in the image above was a bit of an experiment in fast 2D/3D sketching. I wanted a draped knit coat/cardigan and a pair of track-pants for mooching around the house in. The fabric I got was 169cm wide so I had an extra piece about 45cm wide on the side that i could use for something else, so I made a very simple asymmetrical tshirt – really just a rectangle with irregularly placed neck and arm holes. So out of 2m x 1.69m of end of roll, NZ made black merino knit fabric, I got three items I needed, but with the added bonus of being zero waste and much better looking than your average pair of trackies, cardy and tshirt… All for $40 and 4 hours of my time
In July I’ll be be speaking all about Zero Waste Fashion at Commune@RMIT Brunswick! Explore your creativity and celebrate the global world of fashion and textiles at RMIT University’s annual sustainability festival and conference day, It’s going to be exciting! Also speaking are :
*Kate Fletcher. Leading UK academic on sustainability in fashion – Live interactive skype session from UK
*Lyn Stephenson. President, Industrial Hemp Victoria
*Steve Wright. Senior Lecturer Fashion Design, Canberra Institute of Technology
There is a Master Class:
*Linda Jackson . Australian fashion designer, fashion retailer and artist
And stalls by:
*Student cake stalls
*Friends of the Earth
And two exhibitions:
*Textiles Design and Development TAFE students and graduates
*Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design) students and graduates
Check out the events facebook page for more info and I hope to see you there
These are the patterns that make all the garments shown in the Void video below. Some make a single garment, some make 2.
While fashion appears to change constantly, this change is primarily superficial. Forms, lines and details are repeated ad nauseam, only occasionally revealing anything new. As a result consumers are bombarded with choices that all look the same. Boredom and the impulse to buy something new rapidly sets in, only for it to feel old as soon as it is worn. Can re-imagining the fashion design process disrupt this or is ‘Fashion’ all pervasive, infiltrating my hands and influencing every line I draw and every cut I make?
Void questions the conventional fashion design process that values 2D drawing and image over cutting and form, and explores what happens when fashion is designed from a ‘blank slate’. At its core the garment is a pliable space for our bodies to travel through that should fulfill individual needs for movement, modesty and expression. However, contemporary fashion is guided by profitability first, while trend forecasters, media and style-makers vet the choices offered, never showing the public what is really available or revealing the realities of the fashion production process. In Void, the contemporary fashion design process is reversed, dealing first with the whole cloth and corresponding 2D pattern and lastly with the body and 3D form, all with a goal of generating surprising but desirable garments that produce no waste. Each garment begins as a textile Tabula Rasa; drawn on, cut and formed to create a void for the body to inhabit. Referencing tradition within the confines of zero waste enables unexpected and spontaneous forms to emerge, exploring ideas of good design outside of the vagaries of ‘fashion’.
See it in person in the upcoming exhibition Evergreen at Object in Surry Hills, Sydney Australia.
I’m very excited to be heading to New York for the first time on the 31st of August. Chris Jackson and me are going thanks to the Textile Arts Center (TAC) to install and open YIELD: Making Fashion Without Making Waste. It opens to the public on the 10th of September and runs until the 2nd of December so if you are in the NY area head to Brooklyn for some zero waste style! There are also two workshops – Timo Rissanen (co-curator and zero waste extraordinaire) and me are running one the weekend of the 10/11th sept and Timo is running another in November at the TAC incase you miss the one in September. I’m also heading to Kent State University in Ohio for a few days to speak with students there about my work that’s in Sustainable Fashion: Exploring the Paradox curated by Noel Palomo-Lovinski, I can’t wait!
In a couple of weeks Julian Roberts and Timo Rissanen are coming to New Zealand for a research project we call The Cutting Circle. We will explore the different approaches to patternmaking and fashion design that we employ and see what kinds of opportunities and collisions of ideas we can come up with. Its going to fabulous and I can’t wait!
As part of this there will also be a symposium with Master-classes, demos and workshops run by Timo, Julian and myself as well as by a few talented staff members from my University, Massey University College of Creative Arts. You can (and should) find out more info at The Cutting Circle Website. You can also Like us on Facebook!
Thought I’d share with you a little thing I’ve been playing with today.
This is a plan for using up the remnants of a piece of fabric (NZ Merino Knit) that I had been using for half scale toiles of zero waste garments. The resulting fabric remnant is irregular in shape so I was trying to work out how to best use it all. The dark grey are the parts of the original fabric that i had used for half scale toiles so are no longer there and I only have the remainder to design the cardigan from.
It is coming into winter so I thought I’d make it into a self lined cardigan with a snuggly collar that is grown on the the back of the cardigan (developed from my mens Embedded suit design that went to Chicago). The plan shows both the cut lines/pattern pieces as well as where they will eventiually go. The darker fill being pattern pieces and the lighter versions of the same shapes are where they will be placed. Once I make it I’ll upload the result – at this stage i am probably 80% sure of how the design will work out.
I am testing out a couple of techniques here (while making myself something to keep me warm) – the grown on collar and nesting the lining and outer in each other – a process that was actually inspired by the zero waste furniture that Chris Jackson and I are testing out. It is really exciting when the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration become apparent when working on your own stuff, it not only generates new knowledge in a different field, but also informs your own design work within your existing practice.
This also demonstrates to me the benefits that new technology might have on my design practice. There is only one piece of this fabric in the world in this shape. My next step is make a paper model of it, which helps but doesn’t answer all my questions. And then I have to cut it out of the fabric – if it is wrong there’s not a lot I can do – I can’t re-cut it – so in essence the resulting garment will only ever be a ‘prototype’ unless it turns out perfectly first go – which rarely happens and is why prototypes are so important. If I had access to CAD software capable of testing my design out then I could do so – and while it certainly doesn’t replace the prototyping process, at least it will give me a good idea what I’m doing before I potentially waste a piece of fabric. I am happy to risk creative design outcomes (I am excited to see what this design will show me in response to my ideas) but i’m not happy to waste materials, and digital modeling would enable me to reduce the risk of material waste.
While I acknowledge that this specific situation is not something that would ever happen in industry – all cloth should be valued as a material with energy, people and raw materials invested in it, regardless of if it is a one off or not – perhaps even more so if it is mass produced.
Julia Lumsden has recently completed her Masters of Design Degree at Massey University Wellington, developing techniques for designing zero waste menswear which she first explored in 2009 for her undergraduate collection. Her research explores pattern making as a design tool for zero waste garment while still maintaining a minimalist tailored design aesthetic. Julia also aims to use a shorter than usual length of fabric in her zero waste designs, eliminating waste and reducing the amount of fabric required to produce the garment.
The jacket seen here explores her zero waste pattern-making – beginning by eliminating/straightening all the curved lines in a classic mens three piece jacket pattern. This was done to test if straight lines made zero waste design easier (as seen is straight cut garments) and also if it lent its own aesthetic to the final design. This was achieved using the ‘Alterations Menu’ in the CAD software Gerber and she continued to use this software to develop the pattern to eliminate waste. Once the pattern was laid out in a marker in gerber, pieces were overlapped in places where removing a section of the jacket would not be detrimental to the fit. The negative spaces were then incorporated into adjacent pieces creating normal shaped pattern piece but with additional ‘tabs’ extending from the pattern piece. Once resolved the garment pieces were cut out and when constructing the tabs were folded to the interior and top stitched down creating subtle detailing, shaping and reinforcement. The resulting Jacket is moth minimalistic and highly detailed in parts – the fit and aesthetic harks back to a classic Dinner Jacket.
The other garment in YIELD is a zero waste mens shirt which was developed as part of a range of mens shirts all using zero waste goals. The shirt once again refers to a formal style similar to the dinner jacket, with a bibbed front and a ‘bow-tie’ effect. It is key to Julia’s design practice that the final garment look like a traditional shirt in many ways – it was important that the garment be ‘approachable’ by not just the fashion forward men out there, but by everyday guys also – something i feel she has succeeded in.
The pattern for this shirt was developed through a complex process of modifying a standard contemporary mens shirt pattern using techniques she identifies as Piecing, Blending, Nesting, Merging and Creating – helpfully giving names to the techniques that many zero waste designers use everyday. Identifying and naming these techniques was a key part of her masters project and gives other zero waste designers a language we can use and add to.
Both the Jacket and the Shirt are exquisitely crafted garments, finished to a very high standard. The pattern making process she uses leads to some complex construction in order to finish her garments to the standard she expects, which she then resolves beautifully. The striking aspect of Julia Lumsden’s garments is the degree of aesthetic refinement apparent in her work when operating within the confines of zero waste pattern design. Achieving results which are contemporary, original and totally wearable.
Julian Lumsden has very kindly made the patterns for both shirt and jacket available for free download here
This is a responce to a comment on a post a collegue wrote about the possibilities of zero waste furniture, and a project that Chris Jackson and I are developing to see how my zero waste fashion practice might positively inform furniture design. I’ve posted the reply here because it was getting stupidly long as a comment… Original article is linked here
Hi Tom. Thanks so much for your comments about zero waste fashion and you bring up many valid points, which both Chris and I have been debating (arguing amicably) about for some time now. The kinds of comments you make are similar to those that Chris make to me, and its great to be challenged in this way.
However, there are a couple of things I’d like you to consider.
FASHION AND CLOTHING
For a start there is a difference between fashion and clothing that might be useful for this discussion – a differentiation that perhaps needs to be made for furniture also (perhaps there is and you can enlighten me!). Clothing is generally considered to be concerned with a garments function (both function and aesthetics are important but function comes first). Fashion is appealing first and functional second, and within fashion it is often argued that function is determined not by ergonomics or even fit, but the function of aesthetics and fashionable use. Despite this, both clothing and fashion still needs to hang on the body correctly, enable you to move through space, you need to be able to get into it – not just sit on it or look at it, all of these things are why fashion is made of soft things. Softness enables flexibility, but it also brings its own set of troubles. It is extremely difficult to control or predict exactly how it will behave and there are an infinite array of possible fabric types (which is part of why clothing has been the most difficult thing to accurately render via computer, and why CAD for fashion is about 10 years behind CAD for architecture or objects). Bodies come in vastly different shapes, meaning you need to be able to translate garments into different sizes while ensuring it remains economical to have to variations (something that is not at all perfected as it is so difficult to do). Soft fabrics are dictated to by gravity, you have limitations to form because of this, you cannot defy gravity with stiffness as easily as for furniture. Additionally as your body moves through space you need to be able to wear the same things from the start of your day to the end – unless you plan on bringing a full change of clothes with you for every possible situation you might encounter during the day. Furniture is quite static in comparison. What I am trying to say is that both Chris and yourself seem to occasionally over simplify the requirements and design of any type of garment. Both furniture and fashion have different limitations and advantages, all of which need to be considered when designing using zero waste as a goal.
MATERIAL YIELD, MEN AND FRIVOLOUS EXCESS
Almost all of the garments in Yield use less than or about equal to, the amount of fabric used to make that ‘type’ of garment under standard condition – so there is no ‘excessive’ use of fabric per se. The other is that while zero waste fashion is as old as clothes it was abandoned by fashion because the old way of doing it didn’t lead to the kind of ‘frivolity, embellishment or excess that people wanted out of a lot of fashion” Zero waste fashion was too minimal and simple, and most commonly used for underwear – the most utilitarian of garments. It has only been recently explored as a way of making clothing that is expressive in nature – yield aimed to show some of those examples (which is in some cases where you get frivolous decorations – people like that in clothing – and I’d argue that many people might like it in furniture as well if given the opportunity to buy it. Furniture is by and large designed by middle aged white men (gasp!). Frivolous decoration can be done extremely well, it isn’t in of itself a negative which you seem to be implying. Men in general don’t like frivolous embellishment so furniture hasn’t been as comfortable with it for many decades, Fashion on the other hand is quite happy to operate in that way when desired. That being said, personally I’m not a fan of embellishments. All the garments I design utilise the fabric as necessary to the final form within the standard material use for that garment type. The relationship between form and material use is intricately intertwined, and not at all ad hoc or an after thought. Additionally as I said originally zero waste fashion didn’t provide the degree of ‘frivolity’ desired by consumers and designers and was primarily used for underwear. Many of the designers in the show are very minimalist with their designs, David Telfer, Julia Lumsden, Yeohlee Teng, Caroline Priebe in particular all respond directly to the proposed markets and their markets desire minimalist garments (interestingly 2 of those are menswear designers, I wonder what that says about the repressed nature of much of contemporary menswear). Additionally Julian Roberts does not do embellishments, there are no left over’s each part is necessary for the final form, a form which is intentionally voluminous as within women’s fashion this is often desired.
VARIATION AND REPETITION
We know how to make a men’s shirt. We can make many of them, very quickly for low cost and they all look the same. Same goes for a hoody, a suit, jeans, t-shirt, just about any items of basic clothing that might fit your idea of pure or functional, the many different iterations of each of these garments types have been played out over hundreds of years many times faster than it has for furniture because simple fashion is simple and cheap to make, . And yet this doesn’t seem to satisfy us. I would argue that part of this is being a covetous human and another part is the sameness of clothing – from a form perspective fashion is often extremely restricted, and those that aren’t are considered ‘frivolous’ by people who look at fashion from the outside. We crave individuality while desiring to fit in, fashion has to deliver this in a format that becomes the first thing you see when you meet a person – you’re not looking at their dining furniture. The goal of zero waste fashion isn’t about making just those items you know and love, tshirt, hoody, jeans what ever – and making them using zero waste (although it is part of it and I’ve done my fair share) it is about discovering new forms, a new aesthetic for fashion, not just generating the same thing over and over again.
Applying this non-strict zero waste principle to furniture design would lead to unnecessarily heavy pieces for example.
I’ve got to say – No it wouldn’t – only if you did it badly, just as badly designed zero waste fashion is still just bad. I can’t help but feel it is an excuse. There are elegant solutions to many of the issues you bring up (IMO) given enough time and energy spent on working out what they might me. Solutions such as embedding multiple items in one sheet of material will minimise the ‘excess’ dramatically, giving greater control toward the final output. These kinds of processes and the ‘how do I do this’ stuff is related closely to your point about time. It only takes so much more time to develop because we aren’t taught how to do it. There isn’t a book or even a wise old man/woman somewhere that gives you ideas about little tricks you might use to interlock pieces on a sheet for maximum yield while enabling your design to work. We don’t have it much for fashion either – Zero waste in this format is in its infancy. The examples in the show are the beginnings of a change – not the end result of one. Any endeavour when you start out is hard.
THE ROLE OF THE DESIGNER
I found your comment about optimisations becoming “an exercise to preserve one’s style against the forces of the algorithm” and that this is a scary thing for designers really pertinent. Each of the designers in Yield are exercising their designerly prerogative. However there is definitely an element of risk inherent in any process that has boundaries outside of your control. But this can be where the most interesting work emerges.
There is a bunch of other stuff I could mention but this reply is getting far too long as it is. I’m sure that the first time someone attempted to make something using rotational moulding it took them a really friggen long time to work it out and it took ages to produce something that ‘worked’, and now it’s a standard practice. I’m not saying zero waste fashion or furniture will ever necessarily be that straight forward but given the relative amount of energy put into developing solutions for zero waste vs other processes I think we’re doing well so far.
This whole discussion has really got me thinking (and got my hackles up I’m sure you can tell!) – but I think it is such an important conversation for any designer to be having, whether zero waste or not.
YIELD is opening on this Saturday, the 26th of March 2011 at The Dowse Art Museum. This is the first leg of the tour and after it closes in Wellington will travel first to the Textile Art Center in Brooklyn, New York. Designers involved in the show are Zandra Rhodes, Yeohlee Teng, Natalie Chanin (of Alabama Chanin), Tara St James, Caroline Priebe, Timo Rissanen, Holly McQuillan, Carla Fernandez, Samual Formo, Julia Lumsden, Jennifer Whitty, David Telfer and Julian Roberts! All of the work show in YIELD either eliminates/reduces waste at the design/pattern cutting stage or adopts another approach to minimize or eliminate the waste generated when making clothes.
Over the next 12 weeks I’ll be profiling one of the designers in the show on my blog, starting next week with Zandra Rhodes
http://yieldexhibition.com/ for more info on the designers and work in the show!
Thomas and me spent the weekend photographing the work for Yield (front, back, two sides and a 3/4 view) in the studio. Check out some behind-the-scenes photos below – you’ll have to wait till Yield opens to see the real deal.
It can be difficult photographing a range of garments with different markets and aesthetics. As soon as you use a model it shifts the way a garment is read so we decided to keep it simple: on a mannequin – neutral grey background etc. The time it took to change the garments over was much more than we planned for although once set up the actual shoot is straight forward enough.
Here is a video of ZERO Waste: Fashion Re-Patterned exhibition with a short glimpse of my (un-ironed) work during the set up of the exhibition. See from 1:24 to 1:29 and you’ll see the menswear pieces. Also if you want to download a PDF of the Catalogue – click HERE. Designers and artists include Maison Martin Margiela, Timo Rissanen, A Magazine, Nick Cave, Padmaja Krishnan, Derick Melander, Refinity + Berber Soepboer and myself. I have loved Derek Melanders work since I first encountered it and his installation in the window of the A+D Gallery is particularly lovely.
Coming to a good bookshop near you – Shaping Sustainable Fashion! Edited by the wonderful Alison Gwilt and Timo Rissanen this book promises to be a great resource for industry, students and generally interested folk. I am also in it – one chapter on Zero-waste Fashion Practice – a bit of a “why” and “how-to” of zero-waste fashion in the “Make” section. The book is divided into 4 sections – Source, Make, Use and Last – very logical and its good to remind ourselves that there isn’t only one road to a sustainable fashion future. I can’t wait to get my copy.
Latest video by Julian Roberts – master pattern cutter, traveling creative extraordinaire.
The pants, dress and top are all from a single zero-waste pattern. I call the design approach “Embedded” zero-waste pattern design. I had intended the pattern to construct a single outfit but I think it might be a little ‘intense’… see the slide with the single mannequin and tell me what you think. The dress and top can be worn a couple of different ways – there are pulleys and ties that can be altered – and that hold everything in the right place – similar to Madeleine Vionnets approach at times. Bigger version of the pattern shown below – as you can probably tell it is a shorter/simpler (?) version of the YIELD piece I’m working on. I still have a menswear outfit to toile (again) and make the finished garments for. I’m really happy with how it is going however!
I’ve been working on my piece for YIELD for the last 9 months but really only in a focussed way the last couple of weeks since classes finished. Stripes show the different garments embedded in the one pattern. Although i gotta say they look pretty cool. I’ll be testing it next week or so and then passing it on to Genevieve Packer to develop the textile design work (and then back to me for tweaks – then back to her again until we get it right). It makes (at least thats the plan at the moment) a pair of skinny pants, a cropped tailored jacket, and a double layered tunic dress/top… but you never can tell for sure with this process. It’ll be digitally printed on linen that has good body but drapes really well – beautiful.
Tomorrow I’m going set up my temporary studio for the next 2.5 months over the summer where ill be generating work for Arti Sandhu’s exhibition in Chicago, another in Ohio, patterns for Sandra Ericson of the Centre for Pattern Design and of course YIELD. It’s going to be a sewing, cutting, pinning, summer madhouse!
The new book on eco fashion (aptly titled “Eco Fashion” by Sass Brown) arrived at my door the other day – Very excited! It is fantastic to see so many of my idols in there (looking at you Vivian Westwood!) and for me to be included in amongst such company as Alabama Chanin, Noir, Yeohlee Teng, Katharine Hamnett, Andrea Zittel etc is an honor. I’ve got to say I LOVE Josh Jakus‘ bags. Beautiful and simple and complex. Congratulations Sass Brown for a beautiful publication.
The “Restraint” font is designed without letter forms. Instead there is a selection of curly, linear units that connect to each other if you know how to, and in the negative space emerges the letters… It’s amazing!
This is my entry to the Fashion Art Biennale in Seoul, Korea – sent if off today after much stress! I had to sew “Peace” twice as the first time around I was (by others doing) running late and had to sew both War and Peace in one day – and it isn’t a straightforward process.
It is made of digitally printed silk Crepe de Chine. Sewn using 3 different seams due to the crazy angles and transparency – binding, flat felled and french.
The pictured Peace is the not the one I sent as up close it’s pretty messy – fine for photographing however. Hopefully it arrives in Korea safe and sound.
I’ll save the final images of what my crazy/minimalist dresses look like till later but here is some serendipitous print development images to intrigue you! I’m already wearing the toile for Peace regularly and it feels amazing on! The goal of this project is to answer the brief for the Seoul Fashion Art Biennale in November – theme “War and Peace” and sub-theme “Co-existence”.
If you hadnt seen it already the link above takes you to a really great article on zero-waste fashion in the New York Times of all places. It covers a range of designers working in the field (including myself, Yeohlee Teng, Mark Lui, Zandra Rhodes, Julian Roberts etc) but mostly discusses why its a good idea and the course that Timo has been developing for Parsons. Such a nice feeling to see people I respect and admire getting the recognition they deserve! Timo Rissanen works so hard to further the advancement of zero-waste fashion thinking both through his own work and through encouraging others (myself included). I’m so sure that the Zero-waste Jeans Loomstate/Parsons collaboration will work brilliantly and hopefully more such zero-waste courses and collaborations between industry and education will follow. This is the beginning of a good good thing.
Some of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a while – I have always found myself drawn to patterns and mathmatics. Thank you http://synapticstimuli.com/ for bringing them to my attention.
Reminds me that I need to look again at hyperbolic plane tessellation…