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 so I will include links to a couple of my favorites here:
Contrary to the video that I linked to above, 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.
Here are a couple of examples of rotating the darts to give you some embellishment opportunities.
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: