designer and researcher


Zero Waste Fashion Design Book Tour and Workshop series

On Saturday the 6th of February (Waitangi Day in New Zealand) I’m going to begin a bit of a whistle-stop tour of US, UK and Sweden that will take me up to the 1st of March.

USA: If you are in San Fransisco and you’re interested in attending a workshop you can do so here! Space is limited so registration for the event is required. You may register for the complete two-day workshop, on Feb. 8 and 9, which includes the lecture/book signing (Monday, Feb. 8, 10:45am – 12:30pm) and workshops (Monday, Feb. 8, 1:30 – 4:30pm and Tues., Feb. 9, 9:30am – 4:30pm) or just the pre-workshop lecture/book signing. Then on the 10th of Feb I’ll be speaking at De Young Museum courtesy of the Textile Arts Council – register here.


I’ll be in New York from the 11th and Timo Rissanen and I will be talking about our new book Zero Waste Fashion Design published by Bloomsbury on Thursday February 11th, 7-8pm at The New School University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, L105.  RSVP here if you’re interested in attending! I’ll then be doing a 2 day workshop with Timo for Design School staff. Thanks Parsons for supporting my visit!


EUROPE: On the 15th I’ll be heading over to London, UK and conducting a TED MA Masterclass for TED students on the 18th and 19th of February – thanks Rebecca Earley and TED for supporting my visit there!

I’ll be heading to the Swedish School of Textiles to deliver my last masterclass of the tour on the 22nd and 23rd of February.


Lastly I’ll be attending the fabulous Creative Cut Conference in Huddersfield where I’ll present a paper about Make/Use written by the Make/Use Research Team.

In between all this I’ll hopefully have time to catch up with the wonderful Amy DuFault, Titania Inglis, Julieana Sissons, Julian Roberts, Rickard Lindqvist, Lynda Grose!


NYC Book talk: Zero Waste Fashion Design

rissanen-mcquillan-zero-waste-fashion-designI will be in New York next week and Parsons School of Design will host a talk by Timo Rissanen and me on our new book, Zero Waste Fashion Design, published by Bloomsbury in January 2016.

Location: The New School University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, L105

Date and time: Thursday February 11th, 7-8pm


Copies will be available for purchase. The book is also available on Amazon.

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”, 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 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

MakeUse V1 and Exhibition

PrintMake Use is User Modifiable Zero Waste Fashion. Each garment is simple to make, and can be modified in multiple ways to suit changing fashion and user needs. It was developed as part of the Local Wisdom project lead by Dr Kate Fletcher, which examined use practise in the context of clothing. I questioned: what would zero waste fashion look like if viewed through the lens of Use Practice. The instructions for making and modifying the garments in embedded in the digitally printed cloth.

Stage 2 will explore this concept further, incorporating digital embroidery as well as the digital textile print used in stage 1, and explore the Make Use system applied to self made furniture. There will be an exhibition at ObjectSpace in Auckland in July/August 2015. My collaborators are: Jen Archer-Martin (Space + Object), Emma Fox Derwin (Object), Karl Kane (Graphics), Jo Bailey (Graphics), and Greta Menzies (Textiles). There is also something exciting in the works with NZ designer Lela Jacobs!