Thursday, December 31, 2009

how to FACE the facings

HAPPY 2010!

With this new year we will be encouraging you to study your pattern books to answer most questions.

One of those things that just isn't clear is FACINGS.

Each pattern, each book, each era seems to present new facing issues. I hope to make some of it clear here and welcome your input as all I can do is make an educated guess at what the pattern is telling us.

When I learned to sew (I'm giving away a lot here) in the 50's we depended on knowledge of methods and not pattern instructions to make our clothing. I started with the Bishop method of working on grain and very few patterns were needed. As we passed into the 60's & 70's patterns were amazing and fun and had step by step instructions that trained us. Yes those step by step methods taught us not to think.

We dumbed down!

We lost the ability to decide for ourselves how we would like the clothing to be made.

I challenge you to get a good basic sewing book and decide for yourself how to do each step of your pattern. There are so many ways to do each part that no one way is clearly perfect in all cases. If you like how it turns out then it was a good method to have used.


The symbols are many for decoding the Lutterloh patterns. These you will see intermixed with the facing symbol. Facings are noted as diagonal hatching and ST, the S notes a trimming. These two can be confused or even used interchangeably

Any garment can be lined this is not noted in Lutterloh patterns.

Interfacing is a choice and is used in collars, button bands, waist bands, cuffs, etc. You will decide when to use these they are not noted.

Look at these pattern pieces and see how to find the facings and use the facings.

The dotted lines between symbols are fold lines, first you see a self facing (hatching) It folds over the elastic (see symbol for elastic above)

The thing you shouldn't forget before folding this down is that seam allowances and hems are not in the pattern so I would add a 1/2" to the top for the clean finish.

But add what you wish to use

The facing on this pair of pants needs to have a separate piece traced and cut out. One thing you can see that helps tell you this is that the zipper marks go all the way to the top of the pant. That tells you the facing might be separate. You need to add seam allowance and a fold over for the hem. You must also add the seam allowance to the pant top. It's funny to see hatch marks in the dart but if you think about it a dart really is faced when you pinch the fabric in half.

This facing is fun. See the button line? On the left of it is the button space so we know that the hatching on the other side is a fold over facing and you do not need to cut a separate piece.

I know that seeing the fashion model helps me figure out the intent of the pattern but really I decide the intent of the fashion so I am having you look at the patterns without the aid of the fashion drawings.

Here we have several separate facings.

How do we know? That circle half dark half light is for contrasting fabric. You must add seam allowances.

You also have two arrows used to show different pieces on the front edge so you draw the pattern then cut the front in two separate pieces. In the fashion picture the front piece is cut in the fashion fabric not the contrast. I'm not sure why there is a separate piece if it isn't in the contrast. Odd shape for a button band. It looks as if the button band is a self facing one that you just fold over but do add some hem turning space.

I have several ways to do the contrast fabric. If the top and sleeves are the length I want I will sew the contrasting fabric wrong side to wrong side and fold it toward the front of the fabric. This will make it easy to keep the 3 cm width at the bottom of outfit. It uses mostly the main fabric as the back of the contrasting area. If you wish to sew it to the bottom right sides together and fold it to the underside you need to double the size and add that hem fold over. Other wise the contrast will barely show. Luttlerloh vintage has a lot of contrasting features. This is something we can cover in another posting.

Here the facings are separate and need to be cut separate on the back neck and on the front button band and collar. Add seam allowance and hem finishing length. The bottom appears to be a folded hem but we don't see other hems marked in this way so it may be a facing. We do know it is 3 cm wide.

This is a front pant zipper the hatching is a fold over facing but there is a separate zipper piece 4 cm by 16 Cm that also has a fold over facing. The waist band is separate and the other hatching may be just a folded area. Easy this time.

The pocket needs several pieces. I make these pockets all the time and we call each piece something different to keep track. The hatching is a separate facing piece cut in that shape shown using the pocket lining piece as the mold. I have fun with this and use fun fabrics for this facing.

The front zipper is a center matched zipper and you fold back a self facing on both sides and put the zipper uncovered into the pant. Feel free to cover it by making another piece as in the pant pattern above.

This is a fun sleeve bottom. For this I'll show the fashion picture. See the line of double stitching? Those are the two lines very close and parallel. The other line that is farther apart is believed to be a fold line. This makes me think this is a mock cuff. Find out how to make one in a good sewing book.

On the right coat a possible mock cuff on the left a self facing folded up cuff

Figuring out this facing means when you fold up the cuff you have the wrong side of the fabric showing. See photo above. Think this through carefully. How do you make a nice looking cuff?

A knit bathing suit with elastic and self facing. No raveling with bathing suit knit so I don't add a folded hem I just sew it down.

Separate facing. Many times you can connect or enlarge facings to include button bands, back facing or even bodice lining. The size of facings is a suggestion.

OK your turn.... what facings do you need and what kind are they?

THE QUESTION: Are hatch lines only facings when the ST is on them? Are they just turned areas if not marked? Are the dashed lines folds for darts, tucks, as in placing a front center on the fold? Or is it used for any folded fabric meaning that when present we don't need to make separate facings? Which dashed lines are top stitching, which are folds, which hems?

So many questions! Let's find the answers shall we?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

sleeves the lutterloh way

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holidays'. I know how bad the weather was in many places but that just makes us get into our sewing more. A good question was asked on doing the Lutterloh sleeves. Here I am showing you the method shown in the books. In the next post I will show you some additional helps.

In the pattern for a two piece sleeve you see the cross for putting your pin in. You will make both pieces putting your pin in the one cross but you will cut the pieces out.


Before cutting pieces apart....

Draw a horizontal line across the pin hole making sure it cross the two pattern pieces. This mark will be your matching mark for putting the two pieces together. The distance you see from that point to the wrist is a type of dart. When you put the sleeve together that will pull the sleeve in and may need a touch of easing to get it together.

Next we need to find the center of the sleeve top. I have left the drafting number above the sleeve center. When you draft this number be sure to put a center line into the pattern. You may not see a center line in the vintage sleeve so my next posting will be helpful for those patterns.

One thing about the Lutterloh sleeve that really works for me is the front fitting of the sleeve. (see example below of shape of sleeves) It follows my shoulder and makes the sleeve look great on my slanted shoulder. Patterns you buy at a store today create the sleeve to be nearly equal on both the front of center and the back of center. Yes that makes the pattern fit anyone but not usually with much style. Because of the fitting of the front of the Lutterloh sleeve you will need to fit the center to center line and fit the ease into the back as needed.

See instructions from the 2000 pattern book for sleeve fitting below.

See how fast the slop of the front drops?

And how gradual and long the back drops?

makes a better fitting but more challenging to fit sleeve.

you can click on this to enlarge it but most likely it is in your pattern book already.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Holiday Dazzle Sewcial

I'm starting to receive holiday invitations and thinking

"What will I wear?"

Join us in a Holiday Sewcial

Look at your pattern book and see what you can turn

into a holiday outfit, a holiday gift, or just some fun sewing!

It's amazing what can happen to a blouse pattern if.....

I use dupioni silk or sparkle buttons, maybe velvet piping

I can add fancy embellishment and my pattern will cry out "Happy Holiday"
Or maybe it's Pj's or a robe you want!

In the spirit of a No Stress Holiday

there is no need to sign up for

this sewcial and no deadlines.

Share your ideas, photos and struggles if any.
Put some Dazzle in your closet!


Start now

Our fashion beauties came from a Dec 1933 French fashion magazine I own
Pam is getting started with a plan!
Well here is my plan for the Holiday Sewcial. Forget about the dress, I’ve changed my mind (I am a woman, right?) Picture this.........beautiful soft flowing peasant blouse made in an embroidered metallic cotton, white & gold,
teamed with a pair of white pants, slim legs, made in textured stretch cotton.
Just ordered my fabric online so back to the quilt while I await its arrival.
Pam from South Australia

The top is #117 from the current book and the pants are from Supplement 257, #31.

Ann managed to get some gift sewing done the week before Christmas

My friend says she's lazy about putting on sunscreen so she requested a rash guard. I just used a raglan sleeve turtleneck pattern and shortened the sleeves.

I always make flannel pajamas for her son for Christmas too!

I used the same pajama pattern for my niece and girled it up with some lace. Because I used a rather boyish print I wanted to change the shape of the top to make it more girly. I used the exact same pattern but folded it at about mid armhole level. I added 1/2 inch seam allowances and cut separate top and bottom bodice pieces giving me a yoke and a skirt piece. To add more fabric for gathering the lower bodice I didn't lay that pattern piece on the fold. Instead I moved it away about 4 inches giving me plenty of extra "ease" to gather onto the top bodice. My niece loved her new jammies and had not a word to say about the boyish print. Guess I can still get away with this with a five year old ;)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The many possibilities! let's make a slip

Chart for how I work on patterns

(Please note any fitting issues from your vest before beginning.
Make the needed adjustment to patterns you will use to make slips etc.
before beginning the below process.)

WANT MORE than just the fashions in your Lutterloh book?

Ann and I have been showing you how to change the fashions to fit your needs. Many of you have said you need slips, aprons, sleepwear & bras and those patterns aren't in your books.
Let me show you how to make a full slip from a sheath dress.

If you want to see an apron made from the sheath dress check out the Apron Sewcial photos!

First choose a pattern that is close fitting with simple lines
You've seen this one before. Each book has at least one.

Here is the pattern I am going to use.

A sheath dress

This dress is perfect for a fitted slip.

It has the traditional 2 darts in front one dart in back.

It takes a couple of steps but do a mini practice run on a scanned and printed copy and you will see how very easy this slip pattern is to make.

Also once you make the changes to the bottom bodice
you can put it back together into a sun dress for summer!
Before we start making our slip here is how I think of my patterns.
Looking at the drawing at the top of this posting you will see my model broken into seven work spaces. I can cut my pattern at these points and make changes and then reattach to the whole.
Let me explain each space

space#1 This is the shoulder, armscye and chest area. Garments hang from this area.

I like it to fit it perfectly so it deserves careful fitting.If we need to be smaller in this area yet are busty Ann suggested you take your measurement under the arm and over the chest in this area. You may move darts to the shoulder here, or add a bit of gathering at the bottom of this area. You will embellish here but mostly you work on fit in this space.

space#2 This is the area I make bust changes in. Darts move within the dart circle in this area. The slip will be designed using space #2 & #3.

space#3 THIS is a GREAT area for design ease. You can play in this area, do you like fitted or free and flowing. Do all that right here. You can widen it and gather it against space #2. You can make it as long or as short as you wish. This is have fun and design space.

space #4 This is our hip area and it requires some careful fit. It is one of the easiest places to get a correct fit. This does include the crotch which drives many people crazy. Once this space is fitted you have skirts and pants galore you can design.

space #5 Another careful fitted area. The armscye and shoulder and upper arm. If this fits then you can have any kind of sleeve beyond this area.

space #6 & #7 Design areas. Any kind of pants any kind of sleeve can be added to this line.


Lets have some fun cutting our pattern

Find the waist line markings and cut the bodice off of the skirt at that line

#1 We will first work on the bodice to make it tighter and lower.

The goal is to make sure the slip is well hidden under your outfit and not so loose as to cause bubbles under your clothes.

#2 The next line will be made at the bottom of the armscye. You will be removing Space #1 and working on space #2 & #3. You can choose how high or low you want your slip by where you decide to put and cut this line. This line can start at the underarm and angle up to where it will be in the middle of the chest.

Decide how low you want your slip or sundress to be. Lay the paper pattern up to yourself and see where your bust circle goes. You will need to put the line higher than the bust circle. I have marked my cutting line in red.

Doesn't look like much now but it's soon to be a top of a slip

You could sew straps on this, connect it back to the skirt and have a slip

but it would be much nicer if we did some fitting so that the top line is snug.

How to do a fitted slip bodice.

Try to hold the paper pattern up to yourself (I use re-stick able scotch tape to put back and front together) and pinch to see how much you need to tighten things up.

You just might find this impossible. Often you need to get some scrap fabric and sew the front and back together ,sew the dart and pinch at each side right at the side of your body. Pin the pinched amount closed and measure to see how much fabric we need to remove to tighten up the top. You can do a good guess at how tight you'd like this and process with a test run.

A pinch is two sides so measure one side but do remember it is double that amount.

Lets say when you pinch you find you need to remove 2" on each side. (a one inch pinch)

That is 1" for the 1/2 front pattern and 1" for the 1/2 of the back pattern.

Really a total in the bodice of 4 inches

#3 It's easy to remove the 1" from the back piece (we are only working with half a pattern)

We remove the ease in both the dart and the side

Cut up though the dart until you have two pieces

I cut the dart out in the picture below.

tape the top back together

by over lapping 1/4" at the top swinging to leave the dart open but not as big as before

and then remove another 1/4" to 1/2" inch on the top side tapering to nothing at the waist.

The red areas are where the back was made smaller

Do the same thing to the front as so..............

Remove darts, cut straight up from waist line up through to top of bodice.

Make a 2nd cut from side across the level part of the dart and to the first cut

We have three pieces now. We will be keeping both darts but they will be shorter

Tape the front back together over lapping the top seams by 1/4" and removing 1/4" to 1/2" off the side. You still need the darts for the fitted slip but they will be a bit shorter.

You can trace this on paper and do a paper fitting, my first choice or test on fabric.

Once it feels like you like it to fit.............continue to..................

Add bodice bottom back into the skirt.

Put the bodice back on the skirt. Decide if the skirt shape meets your shaping needs. Shorten the skirt of the dress (I never want any of my slip to show unless I made it to do so!)

If your skirt is tight add a side or back opening for leg movement.

Add straps just above the bust point and over the shoulder to the back.

It looks a bit odd but once the darts are closed it's a fitted slip!

Now for some Optional slips ideas

I cut a bra shape in the top of this slip, it would be pretty in lace.

I shortened the slip by a lot and gave it a little bottom flare for a cut princess dress that so many of the kids are wearing.

You can cut your top line on the bra shape any way you want just center it over the bust point.

Lay a paper pattern over yourself and draw in a slip shape you like in the chest area.


Below are some examples from a 1940's sewing book. It is out of print and all it teaches you is how to hand sew these items.

However there is so much to learn from looking at these finished slips and reading the descriptions, it will also give you ideas on shaping that front bodice piece.

Not Lutterloh patterns

Friday, November 6, 2009

My favorite tools for making seam allowance

My metal marking ruler and my tailors chalk for marking seam allowances

There are different ways to mark your seam allowances on a lutterloh pattern
but this is my favorite.
It's a tiny metal do it all ruler
It has 2 inches at it's largest and goes through 1 inch, 1 3/4", 1 5/8", 1 1/2", 1 3/8", 1 1/4"
Then on to 1/2", 3/8", 5/8", 3/4", 1/4" and finally 1/8"
Now isn't that amazing? All in one little spot.
This way I can mark any size seam I want in any place I want.

I move my slot for 5/8" seam allowance along the edge of the paper pattern

As I go I put a tiny dash of the chalk

This will not be within the finished garment area, mostly I end up cutting right though it

You can see the little dashes along the silk

When I am all finished marking all the edges of the pattern I cut using the dashes as my cutting line. I'm careful to cut smoothly and to remember to mark the sizes for hems and folded in button bands etc.

Normally I would use 1/2 seam allowances but I am using a Hong Kong finish on the seams of this light jacket and I need the extra to work with the edges. I cut the neck edges 1/2" as they will have a Mandarin collar and 1/2" is all I need.

I wouldn't be without this favorite tool!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Karen surprises us with her creativity

Karen has surely put her skills into this lovely apron!

Autumn Apron with Ruffles

Being a member of a quilt guild here in Germany, I wanted to combine quilting with this apron project. Both the ruffles and the pockets helped me choose this pattern.

Then, at a recent quilting retreat, I was given a lovely piece of brown linen from their excess fabric. There was a leaf fabric in my stash that matched perfectly, and I got even luckier when I realized that the golden hexagon flower I was making would go nicely. So I made a second one, and it all fit together nicely. Making a second flower was easy, and it was fun to quilt them to the pocket pieces.

Fitting the pattern required some adjustments, since my hips are 3 sizes larger than my bust. The change was easy, though, by just extending the back edges enough to cover what needs to be covered.

This was my 3rd Lutterloh pattern, and for the first time I didn't make any drawing mistakes. I drew my patten on some clear plastic drop cloth that I bought at the hardware store. I use those permanent markers that work on CDs.

This pattern was only the apron body, so I had to design the pockets, 2 ruffles and the straps. For the top ruffle I cut 2x the length, and the bottom ruffle 1.5x. After breaking normal thread while trying to ruffle the fabric, I ended up doing it with quilting thread.

About this time, I really missed having instructions, like when I buy a commercial pattern, so I wrote out the instructions myself. I even wrote down when I should iron the various pieces.

There wasn't enough leaf fabric to make the complete straps, so I used leaf over my shoulders, then switched to linen for the ties. I made the ties extra long so I could tie them in front in a nice bow.

Almost done, just the bottom ruffle and straps. Then I sewed the bottom ruffle onto the wrong side of the fabric. Tedious stitch ripping followed, but the straps went together easily. I added small strips on the inside of the back to hold the straps in place when wearing the apron.

Finally fitting and placing the pockets was the last step. I may still go back an add some darts in the bodice, but for now, it's DONE!!! And I love it!

What did I learn?

Lutterloh gets easier the more you do it.
It's much easier to adjust a Lutterloh pattern than it is to adjust a commercial pattern.
I was much better than I thought I would be at creating those extra pieces. It was actually fun.
Linen is a dream to work with.
I adore the patchwork flowers, and am now working on a full quilt (Grandmother's Garden).
Developing these adjustment skills means I want to keep modifying this apron. Now I want to add more patchwork, darts, change the straps, ...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Making the most of your Lutterloh patterns

What if my pattern collection doesn't include the style that I'm looking for?
This is one of those FAQs that comes up often. Even though Lutterloh manuals come with a full 280 patterns these days there may be a particular style that just isn't included in your collection. This exercise is meant to help you make the most of the patterns you have. With a little dart manipulation you can change the style of a basic pattern to a different style. Below is a bodice worksheet and a link to Fonnell's post with a dart movement chart to help you with this exercise.

Feel free to save this image to your computer so you can print it out as many times as you like.

This happens to be the front pattern piece for a top but the same principals can be applied to any dress pattern as well. There are already many pages on the internet devoted to demonstrating this technique. Just do a search for "rotate a bust dart". 

The basic premise of this exercise is to close the side bust dart on your pattern and then move that fullness to another area of your pattern. Here are a couple of examples of what I came up with when playing around with my miniature patterns.

The pattern on the left would move the dart to the upper neckline which could then be sewn in darts, tucks or soft gathers. The example on the right would result in a gathered center front neckline. I like to leave a tiny hinge of paper at the bust point so my cut pieces are still attached to the pattern.

I displayed the altered pattern fronts against a colored paper so you can see where additional paper will need to be added to your pattern. The cutting lines where you have opened new darts will also need to be trued up so you will have smooth transitions from center front and neckline like this:

I have marked the new cutting lines in blue pen. On the right you may notice I have marked two lines. For the one in pen you would need to add seam allowances and would result in a center front seam ending at the bottom of the gathers. For the line marked in pencil you could still cut the bodice front on the fold of fabric but you would need to gather the center front more, perhaps with some clear elastic at the gathers, resulting in a slight V neckline; my personal preference for this style. Depending on the size of your original side dart you will likely need to smooth out this cutting line as well.

Maybe you have a simple sheath dress pattern and need to dress it up for an evening out.

Almost every Lutterloh book I've seen has a basic sheath dress style in both average and full figure sizes.

If yours doesn't don't let that stop you from taking a top pattern and extending the length or if you need just a top how about cutting the pattern off at or below hip level.

Here are a couple of examples of rotating the darts to give you some embellishment opportunities.

When the darts are closed at the neckline on the left or the shoulder on the right you can easily add some strings of rhinestones or pearls to dress up your sheath. Of course the fabulous fit of your dress will shine through making this an excellent choice for that "little black dress".

One more option for a dressier style might be a slightly draped neckline. This is achieved by transferring the dart to the shoulder but opening it up at center front like this:

Notice that I have drawn back in the center front straight up to the neckline. I have also flattened out the rounded neckline a little. The drape of the neckline will create your round neckline again. Keep in mind that draped necklines typically drape much better if the pattern is cut on the true bias grain of the fabric. I have drawn in a new grainline at a 45 degree angle to the center front.
Note: If you cut the pattern off grain to the true bias you can get twisting of your draped neckline.

I don't want to overload anyone with too much information at once so I'll leave this exercise to just bodices for now. If you're interested in even more information on how to change your current patterns into more styles I can recommend a few books that have many more examples.

Practical Dress Design by Mabel D. Erwin - my copy is from 1954 but there were previous editions from 1933 & 1940.

Designing Apparel Through The Flat Pattern by Ernestine Kopp, Vittorina Rolfo, Beatrice Zelin and Lee Gross.

Patternmaking for Fashion design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

Fonnell's favorite is
Pattern making by the Flat pattern method 4th edition by Norma R Hollen.

I believe these were all textbooks at one time so sometimes they are a little technical but still worth reading through. All of mine were acquired off eBay at one time or another.

If all this slicing and dicing of patterns seems a little overwhelming to you I would still like to encourage you all to take a second or even a third look at the Lutterloh collection you have. If you look closely you will probably find that you have a pattern for nearly any garment you might like to make.

Please consider all your options, for instance: on patterns with waist seams you can exchange a straight skirt for a fuller one and vice versa. Dresses can be used as nightgown patterns, nightgowns can be used to create full slips, elastic waist skirt patterns for half slips and the list goes on. I hope you're beginning to see the possibilities here.

Take another look at your Lutterloh patterns and I hope you too will see that you have a real goldmine at your fingertips. Just open your mind and let your imagination work!
Of course for the new sewers and our readers who just don't have time for all this there are always more Lutterloh patterns all figured out for you in the seasonal supplements. In fact if you visit the German Lutterloh site at the link below there are previews of the supplements all the way back to 1993. Check 'em out here: