Making: no waste

One of the things that irks me about making my own clothes is the fact that I often end up with lots of scraps that I can’t bear to throw away. There are sewing patterns for clothes specifically designed to use every bit of fabric, but I have not yet come across one that I’m burning to make. Knitting and crochet also leave waste yarn, although I tend to be better at using this up than I am with fabric. However, some approaches lend themselves to waste minimisation, for example working top down when you are crocheting or knitting. Starting at the bottom of a garment means that you have to be sure you have enough yarn to finish it – you can’t decide that you can stop 10 rows from the end or that it doesn’t matter if you only have one and a half sleeves. On the other hand, if you work from the top down, you can do all the fiddly bits with the neckline and armholes, plus the sleeves (to your desired length) before you get on with the body. Then, you can make the body as long as your yarn lasts. And if there isn’t enough for it to be long enough for your requirements, you can always add a band in a contrasting colour at the bottom and look like it was intended.

I’m pleased to say that the top-down approach worked perfectly with the Southern Pines jumper that I have just finished. I completed to well below the armholes first, added the sleeves and worked the neck border before finally moving on the the lower body. With some careful tension adjustment in the last round, I was able to get to the end with just a few centimetres of yarn to spare. The pattern is worked so that there are no seams, so the only finishing that is required is working in the ends… all that was left as waste was these few ends.

But my waste-free crafting didn’t end there. I have been waking up recently with a stiff neck and I think at least part of the problem is my pillows, which have got rather flattened over the years. I have read that wool-stuffed pillows are very good – lots of support and with natural anti-dust mite properties) and I have a large bag of wool stuffing. I rummaged around for some suitable fabric and came across a remnant that originated from the same place as the patterned stuff I used to make the dog bed inner a couple of months ago (which means I’ve had it since the mid-1980s). A bit of measuring and I discovered that there was exactly the right about to make two pillows, and not a centimetre of fabric left over. Actually, I’ve only made one so far, because I want to sleep on it and decide how comfortable it is, and whether it’s got the right amount of stuffing in it. I’ll make the second once I know… and there will not have been any waste.

I quite enjoy using scraps, but it really is nice to complete some projects that are scrap-free.

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25 Comments

  1. That is a beautiful sweater/jumper. I calculate whether something will be used up, as well, and it’s always satisfying to come out having used something up!

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  2. Congrats on dramatically reducing the waste from your projects. Wowsah, that sweater is a stunner!

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  3. That jumper is lovely, and the colour makes the trees look like – well look like trees.
    I have a wool pillow – 2 actually, as we have a duplicate set for reenactment. Mine of wool balls from Greenfibres, and it’s lovely. After about 5 + years they started to get a little flat, so I bought another bag of balls and split it between the 2 pillows. I just made a small opening in the cover and in they popped. Job done. I like the idea of you using yarn scraps, I’d be interested to know if it is comfortable or goes lumpy as the tarn wriggles around. Nice work. 🙂

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  4. Love the jumper!

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  5. Fabulous jumper.

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  6. That little handful of yarn was all you had left? That’s very impressive!

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    • Yes… it did take me a couple of attempts at the last row to actually make it all the way round (I had to go down a hook size). I was very smug that there was less than 30cm of yarn left over in total for the whole project.

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  7. Maybe we should start a UnScrapHappy Day too, for project where there are no scraps or only very minimal ones like your ends? It’s a lovely jumper, and a great process for minimising leftovers.

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    • It’s interesting, isn’t it? ScrapHappy has encouraged me to think about my scraps, so perhaps UnScrapHappy would force me to think more about the scrap-less approach.

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      • Maybe it should be ScrapUnHappy…! I must admit that I’m guilty of mostly not buying quite enough fabric to make something (according to the pattern, anyway!), and then finding ways to recut so that I can make it, which always seems to result in only really very small slips left over. This is especially true if I make waistbands, pockets and collars, etc, out of several pieces, and never cut bias strips the way they suggest, using great diagonal chunks which create lots of waste.

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  8. stunning sweater, and a great that there ended up to be no waste yarn, but I wonder what will happen if you get a “hole” …

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  9. That’s such a lovely woolly. I earmarked the pattern when you shared it before, and asked the designer if she was planning to make it to a cardy – but I hadn’t realised it would have such a nice relaxed base so I’ll progress it to my ‘very possible’ list! Thank you for sharing.

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  10. I must try a top down sweater because it would, as you say reduce waste AND stitching up which is the boring bit. I notice this is a crochet pattern and although it looks lovely I would prefer a knit so I will have to have a look for one.

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  11. Oh wow, I LOVE your sweater! That turned out beautifully, and virtually no leftovers – genius! Your wool-stuffed pillow idea is interesting too – I’m now considering my own flat, sad pillow and a whole bag of fleece I have stashed away that might be able to give it a new lease of life. Did you have to do anything (washing, carding etc) to the wool before you made yours? Hope it’s doing the business and helping to keep your neck crick-free!

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  12. elizariddell

     /  February 3, 2021

    What a beautiful jumper!

    On the subject of pillows, I’m rather obsessed with buckwheat pillows for sleeping on (and I find I sleep more deeply, have less neck stiffness, and generally breathe deeper). They’re also fab from an eco point of view as you can hand wash them and add more buckwheat as necessary (and compost the old). I’ve had one 10 years now and haven’t yet had to replace the buckwheat.

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