The Zero Waste Dress by Birgitta Helmersson
Ever have one of those projects that – through no fault of the pattern – is just a domino effect of stuff ups that makes you question if you should even be making it? This project was mine. It felt like the sewing equivalent of the year that is 2020 and started with a cutting error on my very first snip. Then I accidentally threw out some pattern pieces that I shouldn’t have. Then I sewed the button band on incorrectly. And if you’re going to do that, why not sew the pockets on the wrong way as well. But my favourite? Sewing ALL eight buttonholes on before having to unpick every. single. one of them. On linen. And don’t even get me started on the four needles I broke when sewing on the buttons…
Yep, this dress was a JOURNEY! But hey, we all know it’s not about the journey but the DESTINATION, right? And this destination is a bloody good one.
It’s the Zero Waste Gather Dress from Birgitta Helmersson. When I first came across it on Instagram, it was love at first sight…and OMG, with jeans. As projects go, pleaaaase don’t let my bad run put you off this pattern because it’s actually and truly a very straightforward sew – really straightforward and so very, very clever. Like the Envelope Dress, the ‘pattern’ doesn’t include pattern pieces as such. What you get is piece measurements, sewing instructions and a couple of alternative hack options that include a bodice only button band and a wider, gathered sleeve. And provided you don’t make any mistakes (like I did) or modifications (like I did, with my shorter sleeves), it really truly is ‘No Waste’. MAGIC.
A couple of things I will mention. Due to my aforementioned cutting error I had to re-cut the button bands. This meant I reduced the width of my back skirt piece by 14cm. In the end, because it’s so fantastically wide and voluminous, that difference didn’t matter. The other thing to keep in mind – in the true spirit of zero waste, the button band is cut on the straight grain which means that, around the curve of a neckline, it’s not going to sit as flat as a bias (or curved) cut band would. You can see what I mean in the picture above. This really bothered me at first but I’m feeling like that had more to do with headspace I was in at the time. Because, once complete and pressed, everything worked out just fiiine.
The finished pattern does have longer sleeves but I decided to crop and cuff them at elbow length. Oh, and special mention to the fabric – our Freckles Black 100% linen.
I am hugely drawn to maximum volume dresses right now so I love this style and I particularly love wearing all that fabric. It just floats around your body and is magnificent comfort dressing.
So as August comes to an end, my sewing wants and needs are now looking towards spring. This new season feels very much needed right now and I’m excited to bust out some warm-weather makes. What have you got planned for your next season of sewing?