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:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another apron report

Nancy has submitted an excellent report on her apron experience also.
See all the details below.


I will start with a little background on myself. I am 40 years old and have been sewing on and off for at least 20-25 years. I am self taught and really started to sew a lot when I started my family. I made most of their baby & toddler clothes, Halloween costumes and some of my clothes as well. Now that my children are all grown up I want to start sewing again on a regular basis to make my own wardrobe. I am 5 feet tall, short waisted and a plus size. I have always had trouble finding nice fitting clothes in stores. So that is why I invested in the Lutterloh system hoping I can find patterns that are flattering to my figure, comfortable and fit like a glove. I have always sewn with commercial patterns and the only fitting I have done is basic shortening nothing fancy. I don’t really have any fitting or drafting experience.

When I first heard of the apron sewcial I thought this would be a great way to get my feet wet using the Lutterloh system. I drafted my pattern and figured I didn’t need to test anything out with an apron as it is pretty straight forward there shouldn’t be any fitting issues, WRONG lol. Once I had completed my apron I realized that there was extra material on either side of my bust that wasn’t very flattering. This issue is easily solved with adding a dart to the side of the bust. This would of been easier to accomplish in an earlier stage had I taken the time to check. So this shows that it is important to do a fitting, even for something as simple as an apron!

Another thing I noticed is when I looked at the picture of the pattern I selected I thought there were 3 front pieces. When I looked at the pattern pieces I saw there were only two, so the pictures are not always 100% true to the styling I guess.

They did not include the shoulder straps but that was simple enough to make myself. I just measured the length I needed and cut a strip 10cm wide, stitched it into a tube, turned to the right side and pressed it with the seam in the center back.

The one thing that I did modify on the pattern before cutting out my material was the length. I am only 5 feet tall so the original pattern length came down to at least my mid calf. I wanted it above the knee so I needed to take off quite a bit length wise.

Well let’s just say trying to take a picture of yourself in front of a narrow mirror on a door in a poor lit basement is a challenge. I tried my best but the pictures are not that great.

I can’t wait to see and hear about everyone’s apron project.

This project has given me a basic understanding of how the Lutterloh system works. I do think I need to make the basic vest, a shirt and a pair of pants and test out my fitting skills. Right now they are non-existent so I think I will be online with a lot of questions for everyone. I am looking forward to doing some more sewing in the coming months.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The first apron photos are in!

Suzanne gave us such a good report and lots of photos I thought it should have it's own posting. There is also a copy of the finished apron on the Apron sewcial posting.


Pinafore apron - #249 Lutterloh vintage – for 6 year old daughter

Materials: Lutterloh pattern, rotary cutter and mat, cardboard pattern board, removable scotch tape and eraser pen ( Clover® Chacopen Water Soluble Eraser Pen- Blue) I fit my children’s clothes on a child’s dress form that can be found on the Atlanta Thread and Supply web site. (Search for promotional coupon on line).

Playing Detective:

1. used the chest measurement for the measurements above the + and the hip measurement for those below the + on the pattern. The eraser pen is a real help when the
dots have to be changed.

2. position the pattern with the dotted side close to the edge of the pattern/tracing paper to accommodate the 37.5 cm. that flares out on the apron.

3. don’t forget to mark the + on your pattern/tracing paper.

4. I had ordered the designer and tailor’s curve when I purchased the kit. Use the designer curve to connect the bottom dots: 37.5, 25 and 24.

5. there appears to be a slight dip at the neckline between 34 and 33.5.

6. to balance the apron pockets, I positioned one where I wanted it and sewed it to the apron. I “balance” pockets, etc. often by sight. I then folded the apron in half and pinned the second pocket over the first pocket. I unfolded the apron and sewed the second pocket.

7. I made 2- 1”wide strips measuring about 15.5 “ long and criss-crossed them on the back. My daughter is able to slip the pinafore over her head and I didn’t need to add any buttons or snaps.

Finished Apron!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Fresh Look at Vintage

I thought while we waited for some action on the apron sewcial I would share with you a couple of the vintage projects I've completed this last year. Now I have to preface this by saying that when I look at a vintage pattern it is strictly for the silhouette of the garment. I have no desire to look "vintage" but I do find some of the details in these old patterns intriguing.

The first vintage pattern I completed last year I look forward to wearing again soon since the weather is turning cooler.

knit dress from a 1940 pattern

Now we all know there was no such thing as Lycra back in 1940. In fact the Lutterloh books even show knitting patterns for hand knit garments so I'm pretty sure this dress would not have been made in a knit fabric. My aunt tells me it probably would have been made from a silk fabric of some sort.

This knowledge does not deter me from making up Lutterloh patterns in whatever fabric I like. In this case a rayon /Lycra blend. The weight of my fabric causes the dress to hang differently than the fashion drawing but I'm still pleased with the overall effect of the details. The swing of this dress is fabulous and as a double bonus the stretch of the knit allows me to slip it over my head with no closures of any kind. I'm sure the original intention was to include a side or back zipper but the oldest vintage Lutterlohs don't include those details.

If anyone hasn't seen my full review on you can see it here:

Another vintage Lutterloh pattern that I completed over the Summer is this one from a 1957 book.

I didn't write a review for this one so I'll give you some of the details here.

Initially when I saw this model I thought "That is one slim fitting dress, I'd better draw this pattern with a larger number to give myself a little room to breath." Silly me, I should have realized, just like today, people of the fifties came in all different sizes too. I ended up scrapping the first pattern because, no surprise, it was too big. I have since convinced myself to just trust the system and start with my real measurements.

Just like with the older patterns the 1950s Lutterloh books don't always include every detail you might encounter while constructing this dress. I soon discovered that the big buttons up the front were more of a design detail. Since they stop at the waist there is no way to get this dress on without some additional opening. There is no back seam so that left me with inserting an invisible zipper in the side seam, problem solved.

Now as I said I'm not that concerned with historical accuracy when I use these vintage Lutterloh patterns so I decided to make judicious use of our good friend, Velcro. I knew I wouldn't be using the front pockets in this dress so what you see in my photo are just faux pockets. They are just there to hide the Velcro strip where the ends of my sash are attached. Much more useful in my opinion.

I hope this helps the owners of all those vintage Lutterloh books out there to take a second look at what they might use from these old patterns. The fashion drawings in all the Lutterloh books are merely the conception of the artist.

In fact I have one more dress to share with you that demonstrates this point. It's not vintage but I wanted you to see that the fashion drawings do not always tell the whole story. As the final creator of the garment you need to decide if the pattern will work for your body.

I placed my photo in between the fashion drawing and the pattern pieces because I wanted you to observe them side by side.

I realize I am more well endowed than most pattern companies allow for. I am also a little taller than the average woman they design for. However if you notice where the pocket falls on the drawing and where it actually hits on my dress is not the same. These are the kinds of things we need to take into consideration when deciding the suitability of a pattern before we start.

If I tried to make my dress exactly like the pattern drawing I'd have to squash two more buttons in at the top of the placket but there just isn't room. I did embroider the button holes
but even without the extra space there just wouldn't have been room for two more buttons. I've decided I like it better like this anyway.

My point is, when the fashion is displayed with only a drawing it's not always possible to show every detail that might affect it's wearability for your body. Only you can decide if the silhouette, the ease, or even the fashion era is right for you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vintage Apron Sewcial

The Vintage Apron Sewcial has started

Until the end of Oct you can check here for what is happening with the Aprons.

Suzanne's finished apron

Nancy's completed project

Karen's finished apron

Stephanie has finished her apron!

She looks ready for Christmas

So...I'm done with mine, #247. I deliberated about the bust when the apron is tied in the back the sides are not so bad and the extra room does mean I can put it over bulky jumpers during winter. I may add them later if I feel I want to but want to try it abit first without them.
It doesn't flare out nearly so much as it did before adding the back ties-they seem to have pulled in the fullness nicely. But if I had a larger cup size I think I'd definitely need darts.
The ties were tricky, I got one complete tie out of scraps and pieced two bits of left overs from the scraps remaining for the second tie. They are also narrower finishing to just over an inch thick.
I am happier with the positioning of the front darts than before too.
I decided not to embellish the apron at all, the fabric has a lot going on as it is with pine cones and pine needles- very Christmassy.
The side and bottom hemlines I turned under twice and stitched in the traditional fashion.

I like the slight curve to the front of the apron-abit tricky to pin and press seam in place, but worked out in the end.
So, this has been fun...I have learned lots and enjoyed working vintage style.

Thanks Ann and Fonnell-this is by far the most stylish apron I have.

Joanne makes an apron from a sheath dress pattern

I had so much fun making this apron! At first I decided to just make a sloper, but after marking out the pattern and paper fitting it I thought...Why not use this top to make the top of an apron? Well, here it is. My grandma wore aprons like this one, and I remember opening a gift that came in the mail of a little apron just like hers!

Sewing with Lutterloh is fun. I'm so glad to have found your blog.

Joanne missed the deadline for the Vintage Sewcial but she read Ann's posting on using your pattern books to make most anything you want and she made this great apron. We are so lucky she shared it with us. Thanks!

Mary Ann has finished her apron too!

See her notes and photos below

Well, I’ve finished my apron and am sending 4 pictures in a separate e-mail. I did the center apron on page 93.

I was looking through my late mother’s very old stash of laces hoping to find a red to match the little red strawberries on my fabric. I found red fringe instead. It was very sturdy so I decided to use it for the straps, and it works great. I also trimmed the bottom edge with it.

In the pattern picture of the apron it appeared to me that the straps were attached in front to the points on each side of the yoke. When I attached mine that way I ended up with some other strange points sticking out to the sides that I did not like. See the second picture.

So I ended up putting a dart where each of these two extra points was, and it not only solved the problem, but it also made the apron a bit shapelier, which I think is all the more vintage looking. (Remember in the old movies where the girls had such pointy bosom's?) I also added tie strings--which I made from bias tape--in the back.

This has been great fun, and I’ve learned SO much. Thank you for letting me participate!


We're so glad you enjoyed the project Mary Ann! Thanks for sending your finished photos.

Naticia has finished her apron. Congratulations!
I tried to do a horizontal bust dart as it seemed that the design really needed one to hang better on my figure. But I ended up ripping it out as it made the apron too fitted for my preference. I think this was a good first Lutterloh project but what I really need to do is a fitted dress that I can use as a sloper. Are modern Lutterloh designs more helpful with pattern pieces such as straps which these vintage patterns lacked?


The older Lutterloh books are very different

Some are just a box of little cards with a picture on front and a pattern on back (top right corner)

Others are 4 cards on one sheet with a book of fashion plates (front)

Some are hardbound books (1950's left corner)

Now see what a page from the 2000's looks like next to the old books.

That pattern card in the back is much smaller than the newer page.

Please remember this blog posting is for all of us to share and learn from the process. Ann and I are not teachers and will be happily enjoying along with you. Please treat our comments as such. One of the group..