Dunblane-based international zero waste sewing expert pioneers Africa collective

Cassandra Belanger

DUNBLANE sewing and textile educator and director of the international Zero Waste Design Collective has successfully completed pioneering collaborative workshops and classes in Ghana and Nigeria.

Cassandra Belanger, founder of the Stitchery Studio in Glasgow and the in-house sewing tutor at Central Scotland School of Craft in Dunblane, travelled to Lagos in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana. Cassandra is a co-founder and director of an international collective of designers, pattern makers, professional sewing tutors, academics and industry practitioners who are the leading experts on tackling waste from fashion design globally.

The Zero Waste Design Collective’s (ZWDC) head office is in Glasgow with practices in the Netherlands and New York. Being established in Scotland, the Zero Waste Design Collective benefits from Scottish influence of expertise and education in nurturing this entrepreneurial approach to a worldwide problem.

Funded by Creative Scotland the most recent project has proven a success in testing new ways of working collaboratively and internationally to tackle the issues of fabric and clothing waste. Cassandra and her colleagues specialize in tackling the issue of waste in the design and manufacturing stage.

Cassandra explains that “15% of textiles intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor and then landfill across the globe”. Having successfully provided consultation services with one of the world’s top sports-wear brands in the USA, the ZWDC is determined to promote zero waste clothing design as an alternative approach to garment design and construction. “Up to 70% of clothing waste from the UK alone is exported to Africa making it imperative to work collaboratively with fashion industry leaders and influencers in these countries” explains Cassandra.

According to ZWDC co-founder Danilelle Elsener “Both Ghana and Nigeria have been ideal collaborative locations who have shared their knowledge of their own approach to zero waste sharing their traditional approaches to using bamboo and the Ghanaian traditions of afrafra (the use of extra pieces of materials from different clothes to sew a new garment) their passion for smock and kente, as well as the kaba and slit process in which African print fabric can be unstitched to gain more fabric later to make something in vogue rather than it going on the cutting room floor or in used waste”.

The project has been successful in teaching zero waste design and sewing techniques which ZWDC anticipate will lead to a reduction in waste in Nigeria and Ghana and spark a cultural shift towards more sustainable practices. It will also open more avenues for growth and collaboration.

Cassandra and the ZWDC look forward to continuing to challenge the negative and wasteful fashion culture of today through their work on Zero Waste Design through their own creative practices in Dunblane and New York. Cassandra currently teaches fashion and textile design and sewing classes at Craft Central in Dunblane and enjoys teaching sewing, pattern design, quilting and facilitating zero waste approaches to sewing for beginners to masters.



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