Sunday, September 27, 2009

How to use the vest pattern as a sloper/or how do I know what the ease is in a pattern?

When I made my Lutterloh vest I wasn't sure why it was important. It made up really fast and it did need some adjustment. Large bust adjustments and shorter shoulder seams, and a tiny bit wider hip size.

Let me show you how this finished vest pattern can be your friend in sewing the other Lutterloh patterns.

A normal pattern sloper front bodice has two darts. It takes extra fabric to go over the mountains of our body. In the bodice front you have the breast to go over in the back bodice you have the shoulder blades which are smaller. The front darts can be moved all around and even combined into one big dart or turned into ease.
How you move these darts changes where the ease is in your garment.
The bigger the bump the more length and width it needs and the deeper the darts must be.

Where darts can be moved to (also inbetween these points)

click to enlarge

In the skirt sloper it gets easier, the tummy in the front, the hind in the back.

You only need darts in the waist area for the skirt.

Now look at your vest pattern below. Where are the darts? Two in the front and one in the back that extends for the waist. How is the vest like the normal sloper?
Exactly like our normal sloper actually.
The front darts are in the shoulder and waist, the back has both darts moved to the waist.
The dart that goes all the way into the skirt area is just two darts connected
Remember from the chart above you can move darts around.

Your job will be to take special care to fit this vest snugly

I'll tell you why in a moment.


Basic sloper in flat pattern making (not Lutterloh)

click to enlarge

Vest pattern for sizing (lutterloh)

Most of you should have gotten this pattern in a handout. It is also online on several of the Lutterloh sites.

I prefer another pattern that came in the same handout as the above pattern. I like it for the dart placement in the front, more of the patterns have side darts than shoulder. The back dart is more correctly placed also and there is a sleeve sloper which I think is important! I don't use the collar at all I just cut it off of my sloper. And it allows me a jewel neckline with a little tweaking.

However the vest will work just fine and as most of you may have already made the vest I will continue with just the vest.

The first thing I want you to do
is take the bottom line of the front vest and draw it out past the pointed edge. We don't want that little opening if we are to use this vest as a sloper. When we are all finished this sloper should look like you all flattened out....I'm seeing a 1960's cartoon coming on where roadrunner rolls coyote flat.

If you have already sized and adjusted the vest pattern be sure it is snug with only enough ease to move in. Next you should remove the extra button band area.

Cut the pattern off right through the middle of the buttons.

Next thing I would do is bring that neckline up. That way I can note the distance I am willing to have necklines low and many have hallow upper chest and this vest will not show that but your patterns will. This of course is opt.

Before I go any further I'm going to explain what we are doing. If we fit the vest closely to our size and then remove any parts of the pattern that aren't "Us" (like button bands that double over themselves, hems etc) then we can use the the pattern as a sloper that matches our body shape

We take the finished sloper, put it on cardboard if you like, and put it under/over the Lutterloh pattern we are making and compare to see what kind of ease the pattern has. Yes ease, if you don't have any you need to draw a bigger pattern. If you want more then I'll show you how to add more to the pattern in another posting.

Don't panic I'll show you step by step.

So now some fitting hints

your pattern should fits as below

1. darts pointing at the bust point (not on it please)

2. waist the correct size

3. shoulder width correct

(let it stop right at the point of your shoulder where your arm attaches, bend your arm to find)

4. no baggie spots in the back or front

5. front meets the center of your body

6. the sides hang straight to the ground

7. The waist line is at your waist

(helps to draw it on your fabric for the sloper)

8. The fabric is not too tight around the hips

9. is the arm hole no more than 1" from the under arm?

You may have to raise up the underarm it is a vest after all

10. The vest is hanging straight down your body off your shoulders and you can move in the vest just enough to breath!

Time to test out a pattern.

Here is a blouse pattern front that I will compare.
It has one dart on the side and a button band and a very straight side line.
I will make my dart match the blouse.
1) I cut out the shoulder dart and taped the edges closed.
2)Then I made a cut right at the side. I tried to match the blouse pattern.
I cut until the pattern would lay flat.
Wala I moved the dart!

Place the vest sloper in the middle of the button band, match the shoulder and see what happens!

So what is happening between my tightly fitted sloper and the pattern.

1. I need more ease. There is no way I can move with the side of that blouse so close to my body! Even with the middle dart closed my hips are larger than the blouse hip.

I will add more to the 4 side seams. THIS IS THE EASE!

2. Look at the armscye. See how deep the vest armscye is? I did not adjust it and you can see the blouse even though it has a sleeve is tighter. I may drop it just a little and make my sleeve that much bigger. You will find this happens most in vintage patterns.

3. The shoulder width is perfect so my sleeve will fall where it should. I may have to slant it a bit for my slanted shoulders. I always do!

4. The neck is within the comfort zone I marked. You can't see it because it is behind the sloper. When I am doing this full size my sloper is colored cardboard and my pattern is in see though pattern paper and it makes this job easier.

5. Looking at the length, I don't like any of my tops to go below my rear so this one is a tiny bit long. So I will shorten it a bit. It has straight side seams so I can remove that extra length at the hem line, nice and easy to do.

6. See the dart? It may be up too high for my shape. I need to paper fit for that dart placement. Why only paper fit? This is not a fitted top so it will have lots of room in it and I can just pinch the paper to point the dart in the correct location and then mark it when I'm done paper fitting. I often do this in the waist also.

That dotted line on the sloper is my waist location. 4" down from there is my high hip etc.

Now the above example is not really me or my size. Below you'll see an empire top I am working on. I drew out the pattern in my normal bust size. The dart has been moved to gathering at the empire waist.

That should be cute as long as it isn't too much gathering.

But as you can see in the 2nd photo the pattern I drew is much too small in the bust. I can do the bust adjustment and will have to do it no matter what but this really is too small so I will draw it again in a larger size and see what happens. Even if I closed the dart on my sloper it is clearly too small a top

The white cardboard is my sloper

The pattern paper is on the right

This is a V neck overlap empire dress actually.

You can see the bust needs more space and the top is not wide enough.

The under arm is OK because I keep my slopers at a sleeve less height and with a sleeve you need more space. The shoulder is good. The overlap could be a lot more so I will re do this.

Remember this is my tool to see where I fit in the pattern. Sometimes I can just add a little to each seam to give me more space in the garment. Sometimes there are just too many things happening and I will redraw. It's fast enough to do anyway.

average wearing ease in pattern making
This is not silhouette or design ease
see below

The larger your size the more ease you will need

The more casual your clothes the more ease you will want

To test your own clothes that you wear, pull all the ease to one side and pinch and measure. The ease is twice the measurement you took.

Wearing ease


Bust 3" waist 1 1/2" Hip 1 1/2"


Waist 1" Hip 1 1/2"


Waist 1" Hip 1 to 3" (measure while sitting for correct amount)


Bust 5" waist 3 1/2" Hip 3 1/2"

Including wearing ease and design ease

Deep step at a time.....

This is easy when you understand how it works....


  1. Pam from South AustraliaSeptember 29, 2009 at 5:25 PM

    Thankyou Fonnell. I've been waiting for this tutorial. Pattern size and ease allowed, as opposed to ease needed, is a big issue for me as I try to understand how the Lutterloh System works. I need to get my head around the Lutterloh standards, my own needs and a way of compensating. Until I get that happening, I will struggle. At the moment it seems the more I learn, the less I know! I will be following this excercise with much interest.

  2. Fonnell,

    Are you saying to paper draft the vest according to our measurements and then fitting it with our pattern paper, or in actual fabric (like muslin)? And I'm assuming the CF and CB is on the fold if we do cut out in fabric?

    Thank you for this post. I can understand now how to use this pattern for a sloper with your instructions.

  3. Yes paper draft and paper fit to get the big issues and then make the vest from fabric. Use something fairly sturdy, not muslin. Yes there is a CB on the fold but the Vest front has a button line. You may leave the band on and see if it doubles as it should, but before you use it as a sloper on the paper you should cut the button band down the center as if it were your body center. Be sure in the fabric you are getting it pinned down the center.

    All changes you make in your fabric Vest will get transferred to your paper pattern. Take time to get it correct. If you need hints for transferring the changes to the paper I'm happy to e-mail you.

    I'm so happy some of this posting is understandable!

  4. Hello, Fonnell. Your tutorial is understandable. My questions right now are: Should I always check for the right amount of ease even if I make the pattern by my measurements? Do these patterns not have any ease, and one is supposed to add even the wearing ease? I made the free vest pattern. It came out o.k., with a couple of adjustments for shoulder length. I hadn't thought of using the high bust measurement idea (another helpful tutorial posted here), so I ended up trimming off the shoulder to make it fit. The ease seemed o.k., I guess. I think I should try the vest again the correct way. Thank you,

    Cheryl in San Diego

  5. Cheryl in S.D you must be very new to the Lutterloh patterns. I'm so glad you are working on the Vest.

    Many of us have collected the vintage patterns and sew from those older pattern most of the time and as each fashion period has a differnt amount of ease we do check our ease each time. I slide that cardboard flat pattern under everything I make.

    However if you have a current Lutterloh book and you make the changes in the vest so that it is a perfect fit then you can sew any pattern in the book and just make those changes and know it will fit as well.

    What we all differ on is how much fitting ease we LIKE, that is what you will adjust the fitting ease. The fashion ease will be different by what the picture is showing you as the "style" of the outfit.

    Remember as we state often, When you draft a patten, cut the paper out and put it up against your body to see if it is generally fitting. If you have added seam allowances you'll want to diss reguard them when paper fitting. Paper fitting will tell you if it's too long or not nearly round enough etc.

    Tell us what year your patterns are from and that will help.


  6. Fonnell, I purchased the kit about 2 months ago. I was a little intimidated at first, but decided to just try the vest. It wasn't as hard as I first imagined, and I was surprised at how well the vest fit on the first try. I see I could improve the fit a little more, but I am impressed. I have been trying to use a computer program for patterns for several years without much success. Some measurement was always wrong, and I never could figure out what it was. I did find out I wasn't very good at designing. When I heard about Lutterloh, I realized I wouldn't have to worry about designing very much, I could just think about the fit.

    I think I should make a cardboard flat pattern as you have been teaching us. I have a desire to make many well-fitting garments from this system. One of these days I would like to participate in a sewcial.

    Thank you from Cheryl in San Diego

  7. Joanne, in TennesseeOctober 8, 2009 at 3:28 PM

    I am brand new to Lutterloh - Just found out about it last week! I am so happy to see this site and to hear the enthusiasm and fun you are all having. I'm not able to purchase a kit yet, but I was thrilled with the link to the Australia site. If you join their mailing list they send you three free patterns and a gauge to put on the end of your tape-measure. I can start now! The first thing I want to try is the vest and your tips are going to be very helpful. Thank you so much!

  8. Joanne
    Welcome to our fun world of pattern making.
    Read from our older posting for basic information on how the patterns work.

  9. I don't know where to post, but since I am working on this idea of making a sloper, I will try here. Some say to use your bust # for all the top markings, including the dots on the waistline. Others say use the hip # for the waistline dots. Which is it? Does it depend on if is a shirt pattern or a pants pattern (whether the waist is in relation to the bust or in relation to the hip)?
    I"m also wondering if you use the same procedure to make a skirt sloper. I don't know how to do the darts on the skirt patterns. How long do you make the dart and what do you point at? Or do you use a pattern without darts, but a lot of seams?
    Some questions about markings: why is the X where the pin goes sometimes x and sometimes +?
    Also when looking at similar skirt patterns, why are the waist numbers not the same?
    Is this too many questions at once? Thank you for this blog.

  10. Soo excited! I just received my system TODAY!
    Of course, I came straight home and started playing... I'm working on the vest pattern now, but I traced it as is - just to get a feel of working with the pattern and tape.
    I plan on hunkering down this weekend to make this first fitting piece.
    But I've already run thru my book and picked out the styles I want to make first...;-)
    Like I said... soo excited!

  11. I have read most of the posts and comments. Is there any way to know when a new comment or response has been added somewhere? I'd like to keep up with the new information.

  12. Hi there, so glad to find you! I am working on a personal sloper, and would like to use the LL example you gave before the vest, the one you said you use? I too have it in a handout/insert that came with my kit, and right away I see it folds over down much of the front to go with the collar-- How would I find the center front and get rid of the part that folds over? -CS in Texas

  13. In turning the vest front into a sloper you can tell where to remove the button band by starting at that 2nd dot you put (there are two on the center neck band very close together. The first one from the edge is the button band. Remove the button band and you have just "you" and no over lap.

  14. sorry for the confusion- my question was referring to the pattern with the sleeve and skirt part also, that you said came free along with the vest? CS

  15. Now if you are using the pattern from that old, very old handout for a sloper you will find the fold over collar can puzzle you. Take the bottom dot and a T-square and using the bottom edge for your T draw a line straight up and through the collar edge. Cut it off and it will begin to look much better. Any amount it might be off will be corrected in your test make. With the bodice you will not have a sloper that covers your hips you will need to make the skirt portion. With the vest you have all the needed measurements. I felt I had a better fit when I fit the bodice and then the skirt area. But most Lutterloh patterns work just fine with the Vest pattern as sloper.

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  18. Fonnell,

    Hello again!

    I've learnt that I need to shorten the armscye depth on my patterns by at least two inches. At the bottom of the armscye I draw a horizontal line across and perpendicular to CF/CB line. I then fold downwards. Would I have to do the same for the sleeve?

    Do you suggest I add the two inches I removed to the length?

    Thank you in advance.

  19. Ursula,

    This is in the vest pattern? It seems to me that 2 inches is much too much and you need to draw the pattern in a smaller size. Removing armscye distance needs to be done so you get a nice horseshoe shape, the back should end up 1/2" longer than the front and then you must remake the sleeve. Walk it around the armscye and adjust the curves to match. You can see why I would suggest you do a smaller size. It could be you do a big size for a bust measurement. It is much better to do a size that matched your smaller chest measurement and then do a large bust change on the finished pattern. There are many ways to do this but one step at a time.

    Maybe you could tell me more. What kind of pattern is this? A jacket pattern always has a lower armscye. Is it a vintage pattern? They usually have very tight armscyes.


  20. Fonnell,

    I had a feeling that wasn't right. I sewed another t-shirt a few weeks ago and the shoulder and upper chest area just was not right. I feel the upper chest is too wide.

    In commercial patterns, I go with a size 10 for the upper chest and then to a 14 or 16 for the bust and side seams. I have a 38 bust circumference and a B cup. My upper bust measurement is 36".

    When I draft patterns for Lutterloh, I use 98cm for bust and hip.

    Should I be doing something differently. Could I use another pattern instead of the vest for a sloper?

    Thanks Fonnell. I really love all the options in Lutterloh patterns but I just can't seem to fit my upper body very well.

  21. Let me collect some web sites and information for you to make this easier. It really shouldn't stop you from enjoying the patterns. I've heard people say you have to be a very normal shape to fit the patterns. Well that can be said of even going to the retail store to get clothes. Few of us fit easily on top and bottom. So we master fitting our own shape, it is a great thing to do.

    And a word of caution: There is a bust adjustment on Threads magazine site right now. It will not do the job you or I need. It is a tiny adjustment and won't help us out.

    I will get back to you as soon as possible.

  22. If you'd rather not do the vest use the pattern I put above. You can leave off any collars round the neck and make a really good sloper using the dress pattern. You can work on skirt separate from the top. Just click on it to enlarge it and then print it.

  23. I plan to print and try the dress pattern top. You are correct about me going smaller because I notice the placement of the shoulder line does get lower the smaller I go.

    Thank you for your help.

  24. Hi to everyone! I am sooo excited to find this blog! Thank you to Fonnell for giving us her time and talent. I want to learn to draft patterns and have been reading everything I can find and found this blog. I need to save a little $$ to get the system so my question is, does it really work? Can you design other pieces from the available patterns? How do the pants fit? I bought the Bonfit system a very long time ago and it was way to complicated to even begin. I don't want to waste $$ if this system isn't all it seems to be. Any advice or information from any of you would be appreciated. Thanks again to all of you. Connie, Florida

  25. Connie,
    check out all our links on the right hand side. In there we have some sewing we did together and you can see photos of what people have made. Also there are several articles that Ann has done on making something else out of a pattern to make it the style you want.

    As with any pattern or system you MUST tweek a pattern to fit your shape. This can be an easy job by following the steps we've put in some of our posting.

    You can start small and work up. Buy a supplement and a tape measure and see what happens. Links on the side for purchasing from different countries.

    As for the pants, or the tops or the skirts you can make them fit your body with some thoughtful fitting.

    Let us know how your sewing goes!

  26. looking for a lutterloh a-line skirt pattern to make. Has any one made one?

  27. Hello!

    I have just been introduced to the Lutterloh pattern making system in my area through a local fabric shop.

    During class it way mentioned that you can alter standard patterns, but we were not show this in the class.

    How do use this system to alter existing patterns I already have?


  28. Rachel,
    I know of no way to alter standard patterns using Lutterloh patterns. But you will learn a lot more about fitting yourself which will help you in fitting any pattern to yourself. You'll learn a lot here in our blog on ideas for how. Enjoy your new patterns and do make the fitting vest.


  29. Hi, I have just ordered the system from the German website am eagerly awaiting its arrived, in the meantime I subscribed to the nz site and got the free pattern and tape thingy, my problem is I can't seem to get the vest pattern small enough to fit my bust, I only have a 4cm difference between my high bust and full bust and measuring the lutterloh way its still not working, which measurement should I start with and should I expect to do a small bust adjustment ? I'm getting frustrated :-( many thanks, Carmen

  30. Hi Carmen,
    A difference of 4cm would suggest that you'll need a SBA if measuring using the Lutterloh method. Do you usually need one in other patterns you've used? You might look at this website for indicators of a need for a SBA:

    Although it's not specifically for Lutterloh patterns it should still be informative. I would also be sure that when you're drawing your dots that you make sure that the pin isn't leaning over while you stretch the tape. For my very thin, pre-teen niece I usually use a measurement straight across her chest at the fullest part of her bust. As long as you're paper fitting your pattern before making it up in fabric it shouldn't take too long to try out a few different measurements. Since you've already tried a few you already know you need to go smaller. This may seem time consuming but I assure you it will pay off once you figure out your personal alterations. You'll use these same alterations for every Lutterloh pattern in the future. Try not to get discouraged. If you have more questions just ask.

  31. Thank you so much for the quick response, I'm going to try again tomorrow, everything's always too big round my bust but I really want to get this working :-) Carmen