Make/Use: User Modifiable Zero Waste Fashion


Make/Use explores what might occur if we consider not only the aesthetic of the garments we wear, but also the way we use them and the waste we create when we make them. This ongoing research-through-design project questions conventions of the clothing industry in relation to knowledge-keeping, production practices and material use. Through developing open-source, user-modifiable, zero waste designs, Make/Use aims to empower everyday users of clothing, and challenges them to question the relationships they have with their present and future garments.


Make/Use at Objectspace

The Objectspace exhibition presented the current stage of the research into development of the Make/Use user-centred system, illustrated through a collection of seven garment designs. Each garment has a few simple variables embedded into the one pattern, which can combine to create numerous permutations of the design. The level of complexity of the garment construction can be set by the maker, making the system accessible for beginners while also offering more challenging modifications for experts. Over 4 weeks the Make/Use design team will be working in the gallery designing and making zero waste garments and leading weekend workshops that engage participants with the practical application of the zero waste garment concept. Through encouraging visitors and participants, including novice sewers, to make their own simple but experimental garments, Make/Use  hopes to assist others to re-evaluate their understanding of making, wearing, modifying and designing clothing.


The Issue
The fashion and textiles industry is the second largest generator of pollution and waste in the world. From textile manufacture through to retail and end-of-life, clothing has a massive impact on both natural and human resources. Make/Use attempts to address waste generation at three stages in the garment life cycle – production, retail, and (dis)use.

In conventional garment production, an average of 15% of the fabric is unused. In 2015 alone, it is estimated that this will add up to around 60 billion square meters of discarded cloth worldwide, from the making of around 80 billion garments. Embodied in each scrap of wasted cloth is the resources used in its own production – when you consider that the amount of water used to make a single tshirt could sustain one person for three years, the accumulative impact is staggering. This understanding of the true value of materials underpins the zero waste philosophy.

Building on current leading research in zero waste design and production strategies, this research also addresses the postproduction part of the garment life cycle. Postproduction waste is generated when garments themselves are discarded, through the disposal of unsold stock, unworn purchases or items that are no longer wanted – the average consumer regularly uses only 30% of the garments in their wardrobe. Research around maker and user practices has informed the development of the Make/Use system, which aims to turn passive consumers into active, informed and emotionally engaged makers and users.


The Big Challenges
Make/Use seeks to build a community of early adopters around a new wave of garment/product design strategies that empower users to make, use, remake and reuse. The project centres around the development and testing of an embedded navigational system by which users can formulate a functional understanding of the construction of a garment and its opportunities for manipulation. It explores how the encoding of navigational clues and markers into a garment or product might aid in its facility for creation and modification by the user, thereby enhancing emotional investment and connection, and extending its functional and desirable lifespan. In addition to further reducing material waste, Make/Use seeks to slow the demand for the production of new consumer goods and materials, to the benefit of global ecologies.

Since its beginnings in 2012, the Make/Use project has been testing a simple premise: that zero waste practice might combine with use practice to create clothing that better serves both the user and the environment. Initially conceived as part of Dr Kate Fletcher’s international research project “Local Wisdom”www.localwisdom.info, Make/Use is now in its third iteration. While each iteration of the project offers outcomes that are complete in themselves, the overall project continues to develop and push the boundaries of what might be possible.


All patterns and templates for the creation of the garments in the Make/Use collection are available for download from www.makeuse.nz. The Make/Use team will also be offering three workshops at Objectspace gallery, where you can test out the system and garments for yourself, and learn how to Make/Use.

MakeUse_lookbook_pages9  MakeUse_lookbook_pages2 MakeUse_lookbook_pages3 MakeUse_lookbook_pages4

MakeUse Exhibition and workshops coming to Objectspace in Auckland soon!

MakeUse is a project that’s been percolating for a few years now and in just a few weeks time will be on show at Auckland gallery Objectspace. MakeUse is Opensourse, User-Modifiable, Zero waste Fashion, and comprises of 7 zero waste garment designs, their open sourse patterns, a website, publication, videos, how-to’s, Designer-in-Residencies, 3 workshops and a floor talk! Phew!  

Opening to the public 11th July 2015, at Objectspace.

The photos show how MakeUse has evolved over time, from testing, workshops, first iteration, collaboration and toiling the current version. Enjoy!


SpaceBetween and Fashion Revolution Day!


I’ve been involved in SpaceBetween since its inception in 2012 when a local corporate uniform manufacturer/designer came to us with a problem – thousands of tonnes of unwanted and unusable corporate uniforms. So, SpaceBetween was conceived.

Using strategies such as upcycling, zero waste design, system design, activism, and collaboration, we are a fluid ecology of research lecturers, student employees both pre and post graduation and collaborators striving towards a shared goal of positive change in the fashion industry. Space Between is a new green business model for fashion design which acts as a platform for social innovation and enterprise. We have an expanded vision for fashion which includes : design information/communication (online, workshops, garment patterns etc), process (manufacturing/design techniques), action (design and production) and artefacts (garments).

Situated in Massey University’s School of Design, New Zealand we will address sustainability issues such as resource depletion, consumption and production by connecting university research and external partners.

On the 16th of April we will be holding our Launch event which is also the first of two Fashion Revolution Day events in Wellington. Come along, sign up, be a flash mobber/model/documentor!

Keep in the loop at our SpaceBetween Facebook page

Our official website will be launched on Fashion Revolution Day – 24th April 2015

Space Between is a bridging mechanism for students pre and post graduation to address issues of waste in industry while developing their entrepreneurial capability. We operate in the 3rd space where students / staff / industry (NZ Post, Booker Spalding and Earthlink) work collaboratively together to provide solutions. Join us!

Zero Waste Kimono pattern for download

In a beautiful show of internet-ty feel-good share-sies (aka Open Source), Kathleen Fasanella (from Fashion Incubator) very kindly took the illustrator file for my pattern (which was itself developed from a pattern developed by Studio Faro) and made it a pdf that people at home can print off onto A4/Letter sized paper! When cutting the pattern you might want to refer to the image below to see which lines are cut lines, and which aren’t. Also – as a commenter of the original post noted – you can turn the back skirt and front skirt into a single piece if you want by rotating the back skirt 180degrees (no side seam – who needs em!).

Final pattern

Final pattern


So – here it is and have fun :)

holly mcquillan dress-kimono-twist-zero-waste

Make it Zero Waste: Kimono Twist Dress

Just for fun the other day I played around with a one piece pattern idea i saw here to see if i could make a successful zero waste version that was in keeping with the general concept of the original. I really like the original pattern and design, its simple but interesting. I had some crisp heavy cotton from a previous project laying about in my office and its 150cm wide so based my pattern interpretation within those constraints. The design would work well with a knit or softer woven also i think. I also lengthened the skirt as I prefer a slightly longer length on me.


Original design from Studio Faro

What I did:

1: I aligned the centre back with the centre straight grain of the fabric which created a front extension/collar, akin to the kimono (which i feel is in keeping with the overall style). To accommodate the front twist it is necessary to slash into this new front extension/collar area at the waist

2: The collar follows around the back of the neck and is taken from the upper shoulder/neck area (so as the final design will reveal and frame the nape of the neck – again similar to kimono and is a lovely sensual design detail.

3: To save fabric i divided the back skirt off from the top, rotated and nested it along side the front skirt. To do this i straighten the side and centre back seams and so had to put the shaping into two darts one close to the back side seam and the other in the more usual place for a back dart. The overall placement of the skirt area allows a range of sizes to potentially fit in the basic layout by making the gather/twist or front extension larger or smaller. Also it means the length of the skirt is easily adjusted longer and shorter depending on the preference of the maker/user and potentially the width or length of the fabric you have.

4: To further allow for sizing changes i ensured the key areas of fit were placed alongside areas where exact shape/size were not as important, in this case the ‘negative space’ is the facing for the front opening, so small changes to the main garment body will not negatively impact of the function of the facing.

5: The piece generated from the back kimono sleeve/body is used to make an inseam pocket (as I hate dresses without pockets, it makes me feel too formal). This piece could also be used to extend the facing for the front if you really didn’t want pockets. Alternatively to remove the “pocket” you could make the sleeve wider and come out form the waist. This would also change the shape of the facing but as i said this isn’t a big deal and will not alter the function of it.

Final pattern

Final pattern


You can download my pattern for free here if you want to try it – Its a PDF. Be aware it is at 50% so if you’re printing it off you’ll need to scale it by 200%. Its currently about a womens size 10/12. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

If your fabric is a woven and is 140cm wide you could either narrow the twist and/or extension or (if your fabric allows it) simply rotate the pattern 90 degrees. Other fabric widths can be accommodated by changing the width of the extension and/or amount of twist. You could change the size the pattern makes doing a similar thing, by widening or narrowing the waist line by moving where the twist ‘hooks’ with the other side. And widening/narrowing the corresponding hip/side seam.

I sewed the garment up primarily using a very narrow rolled hem edge and a lap seaming process because i like the look of it, however you could use any process you like. It has a centre back zipper but if you made it in a knit you wouldn’t need it.

Sketch of zero waste design

Sketch of zero waste design

Things I could do to improve it further:

If I made the pattern square then altering it to suit different fabric widths is even simpler, you can simply cut a straight section of fabric from selvedge to selvedge, rotate and sew it somewhere on the straight grain (such as the selvedge) of the base fabric to make your fabric the right width. Using this approach the fabric need not even be the same – and you could exploit this approach to create some cool colour/texture blocking effects. It also make widening the pattern for different sizes of bodies easier as while fabric width is determined by the fabric you chose its length is theoretically infinite.

So how does it look?

Pretty slick I think. Here is a photo i took of me wearing the one i made last night (it was at 11:30pm so the lighting is rather poor). You can wear it a couple of ways – with the front extensions overlapping like i wore it here or more open like the original. It depends on how much leg/décolletage you’re wanting to show off.

Me in my version when i finished sewing it at 11pm last night.

Me in my version when i finished sewing it at 11pm last night.


MAKE|USE for Local Wisdom


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.

Cropped T Trouser Dress V2 Kimono T Dress V3 Dress V1 Kimono T Pattern Trouser Pattern Dress Pattern Cropped T pattern


As you may know, we (Massey University, where I work) are starting Australasia’s first fab lab in association with MIT in the states. We are also hosting the annual fab lab meeting (for a week) and a public symposium on digital fabrication at the Michael Fowler Centre on the 27th.
Why should you be interested? Because of this! Stay ahead of the fashion curve :)
It will be a really amazing event. There are experts from all over the world talking about subjects from 3D printing functional human organs to printing buildings and the day will be hosted by Professor Neil Gershenfeld – head of the Centre for Bits and Atoms at MIT and leader of the fab lab movement. You may have seen Neil’s TED talk on Fab Labs. http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_gershenfeld_on_fab_labs.html
If you are interested in starting a fab lab, then you should come for the full week, where we will be looking at best practices, workshops and presentations from all over the world!
There is more info on www.fab8nz.com
This is a really amazing opportunity, and one that does not (and will not) happen in NZ very often!
It’s $150 for for the day, including lunch and coffee breaks, which is an amazing bargain considering the list of speakers. Earlybird registrations ends on the 30th July – so be quick!!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 145 other followers