Handmade Zero-Waste/Low-Impact Summer Wardrobe

2019 was the year I FINALLY learned enough about sewing to make all of my own clothes!! So many things started me on this journey of learning…convictions about fast-fashion clothing, concern for the environmental impacts of textiles, and (most importantly to me) the desire to wear clothes that both flatter and express me to the fullest extent. For many years I struggled as many women do with self-image and a pressure to conform, but designing and making garments specifically for me, my body, and my personality in mind his been so liberating.





Except for a couple old t-shirts, my spring/summer wardrobe is made up entirely of things that I made or altered. I’m going to go through each project and the materials I used to make these clothes as low-impact as possible.

Starting with my newest edition…


The Blue Picnic Dress



I didn’t feel the need to crop my cute hubby out of the picture 😀 Haha!

This dress was made from a vintage Percale queen-size sheet that I purchased for $1 at a church garage sale 🙂 I drafted the pattern myself a few days prior to making this dress, and did practice via 2 mock-ups.

The closure is a zipper that was purchased secondhand, but I plan to insert a button placket this week instead and use buttons off of a secondhand shirt that I was given. The dress is lined with scrap fabric from a secondhand pillowcase.

Start to finish sewing of this project took me around 3 hours…I skipped measuring the pleats so I could wear it out to a family lunch. I sewed it entirely on my vintage sewing machine, with vintage cotton thread 🙂 Lastly, I finished it off with an orange ribbon, purchased from a tiny local quilt shop called Attic Heirlooms.




The Underland Dress


This dress was inspired by the book Splintered by A.G. Howard. A modern (somewhat goth/emo) retelling of Alice in Wonderland, the book is full of vivid descriptions of Wonderland (also called Underland) as well as the eclectic styles of Alice and her daughter. The cover art alone is extremely visually interesting.

The bodice of this dress came from a secondhand dress (originally from Hot Topic), and the skirt was added by me. I was attracted to the dress because of the pale blue background reminiscent of Alice’s dress, and the clocks reminded me of the rabbit with the pocketwatch whom Alice had followed.

The fabric for the skirt was purchased through the company Spoonflower, who has an extremely efficient and sustainable printing system- all the fabric is printed to order. Meaning, that less dye is used and the upstream waste associated with textile manufacturing is decreased. Normally I wouldn’t purchase new fabric, but I really wanted a precise shade of mauve on the skirt.

I used leftover silk thread to attach it, and the zipper matched ok so there wasn’t a need to buy a new closure. The total cost of this dress (due to the custom printed fabric) was actually around $60, which is strangely high for my usual projects…but, I’m happy with it! 🙂


The Williamsburg Dress 



Apologies for the blurry photo, I’m no photographer. This dress was just a fun project to try (and definitely not comfortable to wear) that I chose to do when I found a set of giant chrysanthemum-printed curtains at Salvation Army and a maroon sheet. I decided to include it because I do plan to replicate it soon with a different fabric and a better pattern.

I love colonial dresses , especially the likes of what is seen in the movie Felicity, so I figured that I’d give it a try with $6 worth of materials 🙂

I have a HUGE list of things that I learned from this project. While the dress may look like it fits, it definitely can’t be worn comfortably. The bust area is too small, and the curtain fabric is just aweful (100% polyester damask…D: ) . I didn’t make a mock up before making this, and it really shows…but the floral pattern is still pretty, and I’m still glad that I tried 🙂 Next time, I’m certain that I can perfect my pattern and make this dress out of a lighter weight fabric, and also allow more room in the bust. I’d kill for a fabric with this print made out of linen.


The Not-Quite-Regency Dress


I already wrote a blog post about this one, but I did want to include it 🙂

The dress was made from a $2 thrifted sheet, and the zipper came from a thrifted dress. I used a vintage cotton thread, and a $1 sheet for a lining and chemise. I made the pattern myself.




The 80’s Skirt

20190317_113916 (1)

Also written about in a previous blog post, this top was made from a thrifted skirt that I had had for around a year or 2 and was bored of. I decided to turn it into a tank top, and I’m so glad that I did. I used scrap binding for the arm and neck holes, and used a leftover thread that (kinda) matched the background of the flowers.

The Yucca Crop Top



The top pictured above was made from an organic cotton print titled Yucca at Sarah’s Fabrics in Lawrence, KS. I had had this fabric for at least a year, and finally figured out that it would be an awesome boxy crop top. I drafted this pattern myself.

I used scrap linen for the lining, and vintage cotton thread.

Pictured below is the same top design. However, this top is made ONLY of scrap linen. I’d had these two squares of different colors of linens for awhile, and eventually realized that there was no need to keep them separate. I used vintage cotton thread.




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