Top 10 Sewing Patterns

Zero Waste Sewing Patterns

Have you discovered zero-waste sewing yet? It has been a hot topic with sewists for some time now, with loads of stitchers giving it a go to see what all the fuss is about.

So what is zero waste pattern cutting? Well, it’s a bit like a puzzle that strategically plans your pattern pieces, so every bit of fabric is used. You draw your pattern pieces directly onto your fabric, following a cutting plan and templates instead of using printed pattern pieces, resulting in less fabric and paper waste. It’s great for anyone who feels frustrated with the build-up of inevitable fabric scraps and is ideal if you have a stunning length of fabric you want to make the most of.

We have an indie designer who is absolutely nailing the zero-waste sewing pattern area. Birgitta Helmermsson designs and develops sewing patterns and clothing exclusively using zero-waste pattern cutting, which means no fabric is wasted in the cutting and sewing process. Birgitta has a shop in Malmö Sweden that sells small batches of the designs, using natural and re-purposed fabrics. They are great examples of how you can possibly repurpose pre-loved pieces of fabric you have around the home or picked up from charity shops.

Zero-waste sewing has several advantages:

1. More flexibility. This method allows for easy changes such as using different fabric widths and making simple fit and design changes yourself. Using patterns that fit into a zero-waste square or rectangular block is a very efficient way to work. It means it is easier to patchwork together remnants or use leftover fabrics you already have lying around.

2. An easy way to learn to self-draft your own patterns. Working this way will help you to start building a toolbox of skills, and you will learn an alternative method of self drafting which is super easy for beginners to understand.

3. Less fabric and paper waste!

So, let’s talk through some of the designs that will get you started!


Woman wearing the ZW Gather Dress sewing pattern from Birgitta Helmersson on The Fold Line. A zero waste dress pattern made in woven linen or cotton fabrics, featuring an oversized silhouette, dropped shoulder, gathered skirt, side pockets, full length button placket with buttons and buttonholes.

The Birgitta Helmersson ZW Gather Dress is the most popular of the bunch. With over 2,500 uses of the hashtag on Instagram, there are plenty of makes to peruse. This oversized dress can be worn as a dress or an open jacket (which looks really cool!). It features a dropped shoulder, gathered skirt, side pockets and full-length button placket. Not a fan of sewing buttonholes? It comes with a hack which does not require buttons or buttonholes – wooooo!

Sizing: Suitable for a bust measurement of up to 156 cm (61″). This is an oversized ‘one size’ style that comes with two pattern layouts (Size One and Size Two).


Woman wearing the ZW Cropped Shirt sewing pattern from Birgitta Helmersson on The Fold Line. An oversized cropped shirt pattern made in woven linen or cotton fabrics, featuring dropped shoulders, V-neck band, button front closure and short sleeves.

If you are just starting out on your zero-waste sewing journey, this is the perfect pattern to begin with! The Birgitta Helmersson ZW Cropped Shirt is a great, easy piece to style with things you may already have in your wardrobe. It features a dropped shoulder, neckband and button front closure and comes with two simple hack options. It’s a great pattern to keep in mind for remnants as it uses a metre or less of fabric – perfect for when you have your eye on something a little more pricey!

Sizing: Size 1 or Size 2. Size 1 fits UK 6/8 – 14 and Size 2 fits UK 16 – 24.


Woman wearing the ZW Block Pant sewing pattern from Birgitta Helmersson on The Fold Line. A wide legged, relaxed fitting trouser pattern made in medium-heavy weight woven cotton and linen or light-mid weight wool fabrics, featuring a waistband with inserted elastic, concealed in-seam pockets at the front and patch pockets at the back.

It’s not just tops and dresses that lend themselves to zero-waste sewing, you can sew trousers too! The Birgitta Helmersson ZW Block Pant has an attached waistband with inserted elastic and front pleats for a slightly tailored look. It has some interesting details, including the feature seam line on the back legs and side seams that sit slightly to the front. The pants come with plenty of pockets, of course! You’ll find concealed in-seam pockets at the front and patch pockets at the back. What’s more, the pattern comes with a skirt hack!

Sizing: XS – 6XL (approx. UK 6 – 30/32). Each size has a separate cutting plan booklet with detailed measurements and templates.


Woman wearing the ZW Bell Jacket sewing pattern from Birgitta Helmersson on The Fold Line. A lined jacket pattern made in wool, heavy weight denim or heavy cotton drill fabrics, featuring an oversized silhouette, rounded collar, front button closure, patch pockets, centre back inverted box pleat and bell-shaped sleeves.

I absolutely love this pattern. It’s perfect for some of those gorgeous (and pricey) pre-quilted fabrics I’ve been eyeing up from Merchant & Mills. The Birgitta Helmersson ZW Bell Jacket gets its name from the bell-shaped sleeve, created with several clever darts in the sleeve hem. The oversized shape features a rounded collar, front button closure, three front patch pockets, an inverted box pleat at the centre back neck, and wide sleeves to fit over all your winter layers. Oh, and it is fully lined! You also get two hack options and can create a shirt with a square collar and an unlined quilted jacket.

Sizing: Size One and Size Two (approx. UK 12 – 32)


If you want to ponder some other options, Schnittchen Patterns has two free sewing patterns you could use to give zero-waste sewing a try, and Pattern Union has a stunning summer dress style…


Women wearing the Edith Smock sewing pattern by Pattern Union. A dress pattern made in linen, voiles, satin, or velvet fabrics, featuring a smock style, belt, pockets with button tab detail, full sleeves with button tabs, V-neck and embroidery on the neckline and belt.

The Pattern Union Edith Smock is a zero or minimal-waste design and comes with a belt pattern, an embroidery template, and instructions to make a zero-waste slip for when your dress fabric is sheer. It can be made as a blouse or as a high or low-waisted dress. It features pretty pockets with a button tab detail and full sleeves with button tabs.

Sizing: S – XXXL (approx. UK 4/6 – 22/24)


Schnittchen Patterns has two fab free sewing patterns that will get you going with zero-waste sewing. The Zero Waste No. 1 Dress and Shirt and the Zero Waste No. 2 Shirt are cleverly designed to leave no scrap behind!

Sizing: One size (fits EU 34 – 46, approx. UK 6/8 – 18)

If that’s whetted your appetite and you fancy investigating more ways you can use up pre-loved textiles, we have a great brand to suggest that puts upcycling at its heart…


Sustainability is at the heart of Greyfriars and Grace sewing patterns, and many of the designs have the option to reuse existing clothes and textiles. From pre-loved shirts to jackets to jeans to shirts to curtains – these patterns will help you transform textiles and wow friends with your upcycling skills!



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