Zero Waste Sewing – Bronze Age Style

Inspired by Liz

I met Liz Haywood when I first opened the shop, about five years ago. A gifted author and knitter, Liz was a regular contributor to Yarn Magazine. I’ve enjoyed Liz’s support and friendship and have been in awe of her talent. Her first book the Dressmakers Companion was a resounding success winning the 30th Benjamin Franklin Award for best craft book and silver medal winner for best large format cover. Being reviewed with high praise in many major textile publications.

Her latest book Zero Waste Sewing, reminds me of the resourcefulness of Enid Gilchrist. A fashion designer who during and after the Second World War taught hundreds of thousands of home sewers how to make frugal use of fabrics to make clothing for their family. Enid has long been an inspiration to me and years ago I set up and contributed to a blog that shared many of her designs. Enid Inspired.

I was rather honoured when Liz asked if I would contribute to her Blog Tour for the launch of Zero Waste Sewing and left a sample of the book with me.

Making Do

Many of the designs in Liz’s new book are perfect for the hand weaver to adapt and use. As a weaver, I will admit to a reluctance to cut my cloth. I certainly wouldn’t want to waste any of my cloth either.

I looked through Zero Waste and was drawn to the One Seam designs. Particularly of interest was …

This is a very old pattern cutting concept, reportedly found in garments worn by Bronze Age people recovered from Danish peat bogs.


After some thought and help from Liz, I decided on using a piece of cloth I wove on my rigid heddle. it was 75cm wide and 118 cms long without the fringe. The warp was Ashford 8ply Tekapo in black and the weft was Exotic Crazy Colours an acrylic and wool 10ply.

As my cloth wasn’t overly generous Liz and I looked at how best we could use it. Deciding to make a short jacket, running the cloth lengthwise. We drafted the idea with paper to start with. the fabric being short led us to make the jacket more of a bolero that would be open at the front.

Rather than cutting straight into my precious hand woven cloth we made a toile of the jacket from an old towel I had purchased from the opshop, for the felting and dyeing classes. The draft worked perfectly.

Cutting the cloth

Hand woven fabric can fray easily and cutting it can be very traumatic. To stabilise the cut edges I ironed on hemming tape where we would cut, before using the scissor. This did the trick and the warp and weft stayed in place.

I wanted my jacket to be hand sewn. I overcast the edges of the cloth by hand and seamed the jacket with a backstitch. The cuffs were left as fringe which I trimmed short as was the opening of the jacket. To finish the neck edge and hem I worked a crochet edge.

After trying the jacket on I decided I could add a closure so used one of Vivienne’s handmade pottery buttons. Sewing it on and making a needle tatted button loop.

Not exactly Bronze Age, as I did not spin the yarn and there was acrylic in the mix but pretty close to it.

Thank You Liz for helping me create my jacket and asking me to be apart of the launch of Zero Waste Sewing.

Join Liz at the launch of her latest book on Tuesday 17th of March 7pm at the Clare Town Hall Function Room. Event is free and books available to purchase.

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