Sawyer Hoodie: a Zero Waste pattern

Liz Haywood, the author of Zero Waste Sewing asked me if I would like to review her latest stand alone zero waste pattern – the Sawyer Hoodie, and of course, I was delighted to accept.

In order to review it, I had to make it, and it was a lot of fun.

The Pattern

This is a gender neutral zero waste “pattern”. This next bit is taken from The Craft of Clothes website:

The Sawyer hoodie comes in 12 sizes, from an 87cm/34″ bust/chest to a 142cm/56″. Making multiple sizes has has been the most challenging part of this pattern and there are subtle variations of styling between each size. The top is suitable for men or women.

It’s designed for 112cm/44″ wide woven fabrics such as chambray, quilting cotton, flannelette and linen. It is possible to make this top in a knit fabric, as we saw last week, however it might be low waste rather than zero waste.

The top has built-in underarm gussets for comfort, shoulder reinforcement, a front pouch pocket and of course a hood.

It’s a fairly roomy fit, with 26cm/10.25″ ease.

It’s not a pattern as such, but a series of lines which get drawn on the fabric according to the required measurements. Such an easy way to make, but of course a bit nerve wracking for me in case I got anything wrong.

I suspect that I did slightly mis-measure as a couple of tiny things had to be fudged, but no biggie. The design has a couple of really interesting components – the shoulder reinforcement, and the pen holders on the sleeves.

The Fabric

But I digress, the first order of business was to find the right fabric. The design calls for fabric that is 112cm wide. This made me think of vintage fabric or hand woven Indian fabric. In the end, neither of these sources proved fruitful as they were either too wide, too narrow, too long, or not long enough. You get the picture! Zero waste is very specific on fabric requirements so using stashed fabrics can be challenging. I was determined to find something in my stash so I didn’t give up. In the end I found a thrifted Ikea curtain which was the right width and slightly longer than required. I was not going to quibble over 30cms extra fabric.

The curtain is gingham and I did wonder about the pattern matching, but it didn’t prove too much of a problem. Had this not been a zero waste pattern, I would have chosen to put some elements on the bias for interest, but I didn’t have that luxury. This means that some of the little design features aren’t quite as obvious as they might have otherwise been.

The Size

Having found the fabric, I then began thinking about marking out the fabric. I found the size most suited to my measurements and noted the 26.5cms of ease; I decided that this would swamp me and chose to go down a size, although I did consider going down two sizes. I think one size is pretty spot on though.

The Making

Measuring, marking and cutting out were pretty straightforward. I measured several times to make sure I didn’t have any mistakes. I did write the names of each pattern piece on the fabric; eg, hood, pocket, as I think it would be quite easy to get confused because a couple of the pieces are of similar size and shape. I would really recommend this, even if it’s a piece of paper pinned to the pattern pieces. This little step made a huge difference for me in the making.

The instructions were easy to follow, and any minor hiccups were of my making. One such example was with the hood which requires two small pleats either side of the centre back seam. I managed this on one side, but the other side fitted perfectly without pleats. I fiddled around by changing the size of the seam allowances on the hood seams and managed to scrape the two pleats together. Not that you can really tell!

Hood down

Hood up

hood up, front view

Most of the time the hood is down anyway. I noticed that the style of trousers I wore with it, changed the look. I teamed it with white jeans and blue jeans, both made from my jeans block, and white cotton drawstring trousers which I had pieced together from scraps. I made these about ten years ago and they are still going strong, but give a far more relaxed look. I like the white jeans best, but think that my white Jalie Eleanore jeans will look really good too.

The other thing I did was to look at the sleeves as I thought they were probably a bit long. The edge of the sleeve finished on the selvedge and I really liked it. So instead of hemming them, and inserting elastic, which had been in my mind, I used shirring elastic to gather them in. I really like this, but in retrospect, should have gathered them in more. I did consider unpicking, but …

This photo shows the bottom of the pocket as well, also with the selvedge edge. Again, I chose not to hem the pocket to highlight the pretty edge.

This is the shirring elastic I used in the sleeves. I have no idea what it’s called, which is a bit annoying as I’d like to buy more. Any help with this would be gratefully received.

You can see in the photo below that the sleeves are still a bit long, but I found them remarkably comfortable.

The hood has a centre back seam and the instructions gently suggested that this be covered. I dug in my stash for something coordinating and found this vintage braid with silver threads through it. The blue is more similar in real life, I pinked the seam underneath so that it wouldn’t fray under the braid.

The seam linking the hood and body was supposed to be covered with grosgrain ribbon. I didn’t have any in a colour I liked, so I used my 30cm scrap to create bias binding. I used the origami method as this creates a lot of bias binding from a very small square of fabric. I only use this method with fine fabrics as the large number of seams creates a bit of bulk.

I found three perfect buttons but, after two attempts at doing the buttonhole at the top of the placket, I gave up and used snaps instead. The top of the placket was just too thick for the machine I was using. I should really have gone to an old machine, which would have managed it much better.


So what do I think? I initially thought the top was a bit too utilitarian for me – with the pen pockets on the sleeves and the shoulder reinforcement pieces, and even that kangaroo pocket at the front. However, I would really like to sew a floral version, or one from a drapey rayon. I think fabric is everything – utilitarian if that’s what you want, or more dressy if that’s your thing. I haven’t really worn mine as the weather hasn’t been nice enough, but I’m definitely looking forward to styling this with lots of things.

Reading Liz’s blog post on this top, I learned that she named it after people who cut wood. I couldn’t resist – I had to pose with a saw! We have a lot of saws, but this rather puny one was the easiest to get to, so that’s what I used!

If you have an interest in zero waste, this is a good garment to make. It’s reduced by 25% for the rest of September, so get in quickly!


17 thoughts on “Sawyer Hoodie: a Zero Waste pattern

  1. How cool does this hoodie look on you Sue! And the good news is that you could make one for Mark as well. I am sure he will love the utilitarian aspect of this style.

  2. I’m not really convinced by this pattern. And the designer’s photos add weight to my belief this style looks and fits much better on men than women. You are tall enough to carry it off. But as a short busty (G/H), but otherwise not large woman, I would look like a little round barrel in it. I’d like to see some zero waste designs that work on short curvy women.

    1. I’m actually quite short – 164cms and am not flat chested. I went down a size as I felt I would be swamped by fabric, but I hear what you are saying. It’s easy for a big bust to push out the front and make the look even curvier. Darts are usually essential for me to get over this, but this one is long enough and the fabric is soft enough to get away with it. It would be good to see some shapely zero waste though!

      1. I’m 155cm (5’2″) and short in the body. I normally need to shorten between shoulder and bust by 1/2″, and bust and waist by 2″, while needing 2.5″+ extra length over bust. I have 6″ difference between my 33″ above bust and my fullbust (FB), and 11″ between FB and underbust. Even patterns with cup sizes don’t have enough shaping for me, so I don’t hold it against it. I just know what it will look like 😢

    2. I’ve tried to reply to your second comment, but something has happened. There are lots of patterns I don’t make as I don’t think they will suit me. I’m not at all curvy but still have problems, but my sister is less than 5′ and I find it really difficult to fit her. Patterns are simply not made for short people!

  3. I’ve been looking at this while Liz developed the pattern and I’m pretty sure it has a place in my life. Your version looks excellent!

    1. It was fascinating watching the development process wasn’t it? I was fondling some floral fabric this morning wondering if I need another one! Thank you Kim.

  4. Blog comments seem to be hit or miss. I’m always holding my breath that it will disappear in the middle of writing it.
    Small, short and curvy is the kicker. Burda has some petite patterns, and Sinclair has petite, regular and tall grading but neither include big boobs. Cashmerette is closer to my shape with G/H cups, but the sizing starts too large, and is average height. They announced this week they are expanding down to smaller sizes, but disappointed small shrunk curvy women like me when they said they are developing a new block to suit thinner women with boobs. I tried grading Cashmerette down for the first time this week, and it fits better with no other adjustment than anything else I’ve made. But fitting the curves into less height means standard adjustments don’t work as I try to improve the fit further. I do things that work that are against standard advice, and gradually getting my head around why they work so I can explain them to other people.

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