Pattern Puzzle: Mark Liu

Continuing from Zero fabric waste fashion design is an illustration from one of Timo’s protégés, Mark Liu. Here’s Mark’s example of no waste from Design for Textile Futures.

Here’s a close up so you can see the detail; obviously laser cutting is required for intricacy.

Lastly, here’s another design. The point here being that one could screen print the goods with a custom design to incorporate the cutting design (pattern) of the garment. What’s neat about this is that this textile design is a readily employed repeat.

Of course I don’t suggest we can all give up and go home now but the concept is interesting. There’s still the matter of designing for sizes; I can’t imagine that goods would be custom loomed to size for each size, otherwise you run into the existing limitations of filling in a marker. In other words, this can work for a limited range of sizes and styles -this is not a bifurcated garment- but I think it’s an interesting niche that someone could profitably employ for themselves.

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  1. /anne... says:

    Another book you might like is Clothing from the Hands that Weave:

    I don’t own it; the content is similar to another book I own, but I can’t remember its name. It has lots of stuff showing ‘traditional’ costumes from across the world, and how they used every scrap of fabric (or skin – my book has a whole section on Arctic clothing).

    Once we developed set-in sleeves and princess seams, however, the rot set in and we wasted fabric. Conspicuous consumption – being wealthy enough to care more about the fit than wastage.

    Handknitting is an interesting development in domestic clothing production; while you can minimise fabric use in an industrial setting, I often end up with half a metre left over after cutting out a garment; either because the pattern company’s lay was inefficient, or because the shape of the garment doesn’t suit the width of the fabric. Weaving always uses less fibre than hand knitting, but it’s not really reusable. A hand knitted garment can be worn, then unravelled when outgrown, out of fashion, worn out, or didn’t fit in the first place; poor people have been known to reknit yarn several times, adding in yarn if necessary. Try and do that efficiently with fabric! Once you’ve cut it, you’ve basically had it.

  2. dosfashionistas says:

    “try and do that with fabric”..How about patchwork quilts or mix print clothing? Leftovers can often be used for children’s clothes too. And it isn’t limited to new fabric. I have several garments with interesting prints or detail work waiting to be redesigned into something for my grandaughter. A discarded white linen shirt formed part of my grandson’s baptismal outfit.

    I have seen very interesting articles in theatrical magazines on recuting men’s suits to make garments from former era’s for the stage, and I am sure similar things could be done for regular clothing if one had the need or inclination. (In fact, I think I read an article on that in Threads some years back.)You can get very nice suits at Thrift stores for practically nothing.

  3. /anne... says:

    I am familiar with all the ways you can cut down existing woven garments and remake them (I collect old sewing and home making manuals); however, every time you do that, you lose fabric.

    I sew as much as I knit; but I can unravel a cardigan, for example, and if the yarn isn’t worn, I can reknit every scrap of yarn into a completely different garment – say a skirt. If I make it too big or too small, I can reknit it; once I’ve cut fabric too small, rescuing a garment may not be possible. I’ve recently lost a lot of weight; while I can take in my tailored skirts, the jackets are a lost cause; however my handspun jumpers I happily unravel and reknit to suit my new shape.

    And just because I could make a child’s garment out of scraps, doesn’t mean it’s of any use to me – my child is now 19, and wears adult-sized clothing.

  4. Georgina says:

    Textile scrap recycling was a big industry in the US years ago (before off-shoring). I used to own a company that collected textile clippings (or left-overs from cuts)from denim companies. We would bale up the scrap and sell it to specialized recycling mills. Some of the end-uses of the scrap were: flocking, cellulose powder used as filler for products such as make-up and tampons, insulating paper, mattress stuffing, and even for the paper used to print U.S. currency.
    Since most apparel production has left the U.S., so has this recycling industry. I have been out of that business for a while. An interesting note is that the price of the textile clips was/is a commodity, and competes with raw cotton prices. Whenever the price of raw cotton was up, the demand for scrap was higher because it was cheaper to used recycled fiber. U.S. government cotton subsidies actually hurt the textile recycling industry.
    Anyway, I just wanted to shed some light on an industry few know about. All of those left-overs from the cutting tables can be recycled. It does’nt have to be just cotton. We recycled all types of fibers.

  5. Oxanna says:

    Lovely examples. How exactly do you think they’re sewn (or attached, as the case may be)? What I’m thinking is that what one saves in fabric, one may not save in sewing (labor). All those little curves and points!

  6. Timo Rissanen says:

    Thanks, Georgina, for bringing that up. I remember from my childhood in Finland that we used to take all our textile waste – every rag and scrap – to special collection points, and dad told me it was used to make paper, especially bank notes as you say. I’ve tried to find places here in Australia that would do the same. The Smith Family, a charity, do collect and recycle scrap in their own mill, but mainly in industrial quantities, ie. household scrap isn’t really of interest to them. Other charities are asking people not to donate damaged clothes because their waste management costs to deal with this are literally in the millions. Whilst I think recycling is a problem in some circumstances in that it can inadvertently encourage disposability while making us feel better about it because we recycle, recycling would seem much the better option than dumping in landfill all that precious fibre.

    Susan Strasser’s ‘Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash’ is one of my favourite books. There is real beauty in how people used to use something to its very end of usefulness. Some still do, of course, and I try (and often fail). It’s hard, though, in the society we’ve created. Anyone ever tried to do their weekly shopping without buying a single plastic-wrapped food item? Possible rather difficult, and more significantly, often inconvenient.

    (Sorry, Kathleen – going very off-topic here so will stop now.)

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