Zero-waste is a branch of sustainable fashion that eliminates textile waste from the production stage. The entire length and width of fabrics are used. I created this collection as part of my design honors thesis at the University of California Davis (January-May 2012). I was extremely inspired by the work of Timo Rissanen, Holly McQuillan, Mark Liu, and Carla Fernandez. This collection was funded by a grant from the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts.
My zero-waste collection was inspired by sentimental architecture, which is the home my father built for my family in Los Angeles. I chose a home as the basis of my inspiration because a home and clothes function as protective shelter from the environment. Brick stair steps, a curvilinear staircase, and windows are all inspirational details. I integrate excess post-consumer fabrics as well as polyester from recycled PET plastic bottles. I added value to these textiles with hand-embroidery, applique, color staining, and laser cut manipulations. My unique collection shows how the sentimental value and prolonged life we give to a home may be applied to clothing, encouraging stronger emotional attachment and prolonged use. I used the cut-and-sew “jig-saw” zero-waste technique. This zero-waste conceptual and practice-based approach can lead towards an overall reduction of textile waste that can benefit the environment in the long term.
This outfit was the first I created for my collection and the process was very experimental. I did not know how the final outfit would look until I did a mock-up. Beginning from the flat 2-dimension fabric stage, rather than on a dress form led me to discover that I could arrange the fabrics to form step structures along the neckline and throughout the bottom of the skirt. I was very happy that I discovered a way to create a unique design that would help make my garments more interesting.
This outfit required the most time because I sewed the organic shape of the swirls on two pieces of fabric, cut the shapes out, and turned them over to have clean, smooth edges. I then appliqued each shape. I thought I would never finish this outfit as I gradually added more and more swirls as time progressed. Even though this garment was very time intensive, I was determined to finish it because I really enjoyed the color contrasts of the turquoise, yellows, and I knew that the graphic quality of this outfit would be amazing.
I wanted to integrate local California yarns into my collection and wanted the knitted shawl to be the focus of this outfit. The shawl has thousands of stitches and I slowly made it throughout the 4 month period. By the end I had a very long rectangle and decided to add more texture with gathering along the neckline and by combing the ends to make the rectangle hug the body. I really like the shawl because it can be adjusted to look different each time it is worn.
A great surprise element of this outfit that came from working with the no waste technique was the square in the shirt. Based on the pattern layout, I originally thought that the garment would close together like a jigsaw with no gaps, but it only fit my model if there was a square. I also integrated laser cut step structures to add dimension to the dress and create a different type of texture.
I was initially afraid to make no waste pants because it was my first time making pants in general. I did two mock-ups and realized that it wasn’t so difficult. The primary image of this post is of the diagram I created for the pants. I really enjoyed playing the stair step structures in the bottom half of the pants.
I really wanted to incorporate hand-weaving in my collection because it helps tell the narrative of why fabric should not be wasted. Before the industrial revolution, fabric was hand-woven and clothing was treasured because of the extensive time it took to make the fabric and clothes. I created both woven pieces on a floor loom. I was very excited to create complimenting pieces with both structured and hand-woven aspects.