Self Assembly Required

DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

The Zero Waste Gather Dress // Birgitta Helmersson

The Zero Waste Gather dress by Birgitta Helmersson is a pattern came to my attention a fair while ago now – well, I feel like I bought it a heck of a long time ago anyway!

The concept behind the pattern is simple. Zero waste. By some magic you’d be able to use every single scrap of fabric into the dress itself. A pretty remarkable feat no? The pattern comes with instructions for you to draw out the required cut lines directly onto the fabric which keeps the waste down even more (though there is an option for you to print out a guide if that doesn’t float your boat).

For some unknown reason it’s taken me forever to actually get round to making it this pattern despite the fact that oversized gathered dresses are totally my thing right now! I’m blaming it on not having the right fabric for it!

But the perfect fabric has finally come along! As part of The New Craft House Brand Ambassador program I got the chance to pick a fabric from their shop to make a garment. For the first time I actually went into the shop to have a proper touch and feel of the fabrics before picking something. I went for the marigold luxury linen – a beautiful golden yellow lightweight smooth linen – and knew this was the fabric for this pattern! I was limited to 2 metres of the stuff though with the budget constraints but I had a feeling I could make it work.

The pattern calls for 2.6metres of 145cm wide fabric and after straightening out the cut edges and selvedge, I had exactly 2.1m by 140cm. I was a fair chunk of change short. But I’m forever shortening patterns so I figured I’d make it work for me!

After much deliberation over the instructions and lay plan I made some decisions about the changes I’d need. I shortened the sleeves by 5cm which had the knock on effect of narrowing the pockets by a couple of centimetres. The skirt/ bodice was a little more complicated to adjust. I had to pull out all my math skills to figure out the best option! The bodice needed to stay the same length as it’s already on the short side. That allowed me just over 1.4m which I would cut in half for the back and front skirt. If I kept the hem as narrow as possible I could still make a decent length midi dress.

The last bit of confusion lay with the neck/ button band which relied on a deep hem to compensate for loss of length in the back neck. I’d of course gotten rid of that hem so I needed to make another plan! In the end the simplest idea was the best and I opted to just have a short button band through the centre as a design choice. I used the scraps from the front neck cut out (which would have otherwise gone into the side seam as a sort of binding) to create a facing in the corner for a super neat and tidy finish.

It’s a one size fits all so on a slimmer person it’ll look more oversized than if your body type went the other way but there is a lot of ease through the body so it’ll fit a wide size range. The sleeve was surprisingly narrow so if I made it again I would probably go for the gathered sleeve version which gives loads of ease here.

To finish the back neck, I added a little label from Cut One Pair!

I didn’t get away with it being completely zero waste. As I said earlier, I straightened out the cut edges and had to trim the selvedge edge slightly to get to the usable fabric width and length. This left me with a little pile of scraps that I just wasn’t able to use anywhere. Still, it’s a lot less waste than I’d normally end up with!

I feel like my wardrobe is starting to reach it’s limit of oversized midi dresses so I’m not sure if many more of these will be made in my future. But if the perfect fabric comes along you never know!

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