Zero Waste Jumpsuit

What started as a zero-waste bralette experiment in 2021, ended up becoming this almost-zero-waste striped jumpsuit two years later! Lately I would usually try to squeeze all details and notes about personal sewing projects like this into a lengthy caption underneath an Instagram post, but this time I decided to try out blog post format instead.

So for my fellow sewing and zero-waste patterning geeks: you’ve made it to the deets!

Front view close up
Back view close up

Zero Waste Experiments

In June 2021 I started a small series of experiments in 3D, testing out a couple of zero-waste pattern constructions that had been brewing in my mind for a while. Using CLO3D, I kept iterating and tweaking the patterns. And after a lot of trial and error, I ended up with one variation I felt quite confident about.

It was a simple style bralette with lightly-shaped cups, pictured below. The shaping is achieved through a combination of triangles: different sizes and shapes, constructed in different directions. The intention was for it to be stretchy, so I used a simple rib knit with stretch properties for the 3D simulation. With the stretch, it has potential to be a sports bra – ranging between low-support and medium-support depending on the stretch value of the fabric used.

Size reference

Some size references for those interested in the specifics: the 3D sample is simulated on an avatar with my own body measurements. These are roughly comparable to S-M in conventional sizing (EU 36-38 / US 4-6). All pattern pieces for the bodice, excluding the rectangular waistband, fit together into a square of 30x30cm (∼11.8×11.8 inch).

About a month later -yep, we’re still in 2021- I decided I wanted to test the construction by making a physical sample. To be able to properly assess the fit and the shaping created with the triangles, I opted for a non-stretchy fabric. Something rather non-forgiving that would show the “raw fit” – instead of the stretchy rib knit I used in 3D, which might hide any inconsistencies.


I landed on a gorgeous striped jacquard, 100% cotton, originally manufactured by a French fabric mill for Tommy Hilfiger. The university I studied at regularly received batches of dead stock & leftover fabrics from big companies and local brands, which is how I got a hold of this fabric back in 2018. And after a few years of contemplating what to use it for, I had found a great project!

Cutting layout for the bodice pieces (30×30 cm)


As for the construction of the bodice, I wanted to make sure the seams wouldn’t become too bulky. So the majority of seams have a very simple (but slim!) finish: single-layer serged, sewn right-side to right-side, and topstitched to one side. For one seam on the side of the bust I wanted to use the selvage to create a textured “mini fringe” detail, so this seam is stitched flat (wrong-side on right-side).

The straps are reinforced with grosgrain on the inside, and a thin navy bias binding along the edges. The bias binding continues along the front bodice on the shoulder side, and the center edges of the bodice in the front are finished with a simple overlock and single-folded narrow hem.

Front bodice coming together
The only scrap left after it became a jumpsuit

So far, I was quite satisfied with the result, and decided I wanted to finish it into a fully wearable toile. The shaping in the cups worked quite well, but it needed some more weight to stay down (or that tight, stretchy waistband from the 3D sample haha!). So the idea of the jumpsuit was born!

I winged it without patterns: just cutting straight into the fabric by roughly tracing around a pair of wide-legged pants that fit me well. Added some darts in the waist, a long strip cut crossgrain to break up the vertical stripes along the side seams, and used the cutouts from the crotch curves to create a fly closure for the back, and some tiny pockets in the front. It came together quite fast, but I quickly realised I gave myself a bit too little room in the back, as it was pulling a bit on my lower back.

And that’s the last moment the jumpsuit saw any daylight for the next two years, as it ended up in my “Work-in-progress-but-can’t-be-bothered-to-continue” projects drawer….

Refinishing the straps to hide the fraying edges.

Fast forward to 2 years later…

I clearly did not feel like opening up the entire thing and reworking a bunch of seams, so when I eventually picked up enough courage to continue with this project, I decided to try a very simple fix. I opened up the entire inseam, and added a long strip of fabric cut crossgrain (just like the sideseams), to add space to the crotch as well as the legs itself. Which was all I needed: afterwards it fit perfectly!

Excited to have finally fixed the thing that had been putting me off from finishing this project for so long, I was suddenly over-motivated to finish the rest. I cleaned up the shoulder straps which I attempted to finish in a bit of a rush before, added some hook & eyes and a button in the back, and hand sewed some last bits and pieces together. And suddenly it was all done!

Some details of the finished jumpsuit