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Ready Pattern Design & Trends Blog

How to manage Zero waste in Textile & Apparel Industry?

by Astrid Kingerly

June 3, 2020 16:11 label 9 minutes read label Leave a comment

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Zero waste design in textile industry is a fashion approach that lays emphasis on the process of designing garments by eliminating textile waste.

Ordinarily, 15% to 25% of the fabric ends up as waste while constructing a garment due to multifarious & deep-rooted conventions of design, pattern cutting, and production practices. This wastage leads to the annihilation of 2 vital resources invested in the textile industry. These are:

  1. Natural Resources &
  2. Human labour

Hence maximising the use of textile materials by embracing zero waste design approach is the need of the hour. This technique in addition to condensing fabric waste reduces the pressure on other resources.

How to minimise the wastage in textile industry?

Probable factors that contribute to the wastage of fabrics during garment construction are contemplated at the following stages in the manufacturing process.

  • Garment Designing,
  • Pattern Cutting

Hence, adopting an ideal method for eliminating fabric waste during the initial stage of garment manufacture is indispensible.

Irrespective of the technique adopted, understanding the textile dimension prior to work is a crucial consideration in zero-waste design.

Garment Designing

A designer plays a key role in deciding the efficiency of the fabric yardage. In the current scenario of garment manufacturing, a designer usually follows trends, styles etc. while conceptualising a garment. Hence, the optimum use of fabric is often overlooked. The innovative approach of the designer to versatile clothing is crucial to help eliminate textile waste. For Instance,

  • Full-width kaftans & Box fit silhouettes use the full-width of the fabric. This helps eliminate left-over fabrics without compromising with the style.
  • Garment patterns with pockets, collar, cuff, trims and gussets that fit together like a puzzle help reduce wastage to a great extent.
  • Utilizing the scrap remains on the floor to make accessories, flowers, linen & other decorative purpose in dress minimizes wastage. 
  • Forming geometric shapes of the excess fabric to create elegant drapes is the cornerstone of the modern wardrobes that helps reduce fabric waste.

Pattern Cutting

Pattern cutting that involves designer’s ingenuity is another endeavour to assist in the garment construction process with Zero wastage. Here are some impeccable pattern cutting tactics that will assist you to improve your garment’s sustainability credentials.

  1. Cutting pattern pieces that interlock like puzzle pieces:
    This technique requires the designer to cut small components from a single piece of fabric & join them aesthetically to make a styled garment.The jigsaw cut is an eco-efficient technique that requires the designer to work on the design efficiently by calculating the dimensions of the garment.  

  2. Subtraction Cutting
    It is another innovative technique that involves experimental method of hollow construction. In this technique, the fabric is sliced or opened up with holes. This allows the material to be twisted upon & fed through itself. This method involves complex geometries for creating zero waste design. 

  3. Geo cut
    It is a technique that is based on the usage of geometrical shapes such as triangles, squares & circles to approach zero-waste agenda. Geo-cut methodology when combined with another zero-waste technique i.e. draping manipulates the garment pattern in 3D. Kimono designs are innovative construction concept that leverages Geo-cut approach. 

Promising Computer Technology in Sustainable Garment Manufacturing

Direct Panel on Loom (DPOL):

It is a technique that leverages computer attached looms that help in weaving segmented pieces of clothing like sleeve, bodice etc. The resulting pieces are sewn together by hand. As no cutting is involved in the process, no fabric is wasted. Moreover, this method is believed to save yarn, dyes, chemicals & reduce lead time by almost 50%.

Manufacturing all kinds of apparel using above approaches might be impossible. Moreover, implementing these techniques in large manufacturing units can be difficult due to added expense of modifying the dynamics of a traditional pattern & training labour.

Hence to make the fashion industry more sustainable, we can introduce the 5 R in apparel manufacturing business i.e. Reduce, Repair, Recycle, Repurpose, and Reinvent.

This will help produce commercially viable production model for the fashion industry by minimizing textile waste.

About the author

Astrid Kingerly

Astrid Kingerly is a fashion designer at Ready Pattern. She curates surface design moodboards for upcoming seasons after researching on trends and forecasts. Do you have any design stories which you would like to showcase? Write to us.


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