Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Lutterloh System Symbols Page - An Evolution

Fonnell's recent post on facings got me thinking how some people might be confused by the symbols on their Lutterloh patterns. After all, the symbols page has changed a few times over the years. For the most recent Lutterloh symbols chart see this post here.

Pattern #8 from 1939
It's apparent that in years past more decisions were left up to the seamstress, from facings to sewing order, even closures.

Lutterloh symbols page 1950
The photo above is the earliest version of the Lutterloh symbols page that I've found in English. As you can see it's a rather scaled down version of the one that comes with today's Lutterloh patterns. A Key to Signs Used is at the bottom of "Important Rules on Pattern Cutting".

Page from a Lutterloh Home Study Course Manual
1968 Symbols page

Later, more symbols were added to include explanations for things like pocket flaps and elastic. Notice that originally those hatch lines were used to indicate any double layer of fabric. This explains the hatch lines on areas such as darts, pleats and bindings as seen in the photo below.

Pattern #79 - 1969

Still later, more renditions of the symbols page were published. Around the 1980's the symbols for full figure, knits, maternity and contrast color were introduced. Finally the symbol for a zipper was noted and the wavy symbol for ease was changed to denote gathering. In addition more symbols were included for fold lines, closures and fabric requirements.

1980 and 1989 Symbols Pages
With all the letters for sewing sequence and pattern pieces printed amongst the cutting, folding, gathering and waist markings the patterns started looking pretty busy.

Pattern # 279/280 - 1991

The photo below is the 2006 version of the Lutterloh Symbols Page. The newest additions are symbols for top stitching and a 90 degree angle.

2006 Symbols Page

This same angle symbol is sometimes used with the number 45 indicating the fabric should be cut on the bias.

Pattern# 45/46 - 2008

You may be wondering why all these changes are relevant today. I personally find all these letters and various dashed lines and symbols squashed into the space of these miniature patterns sometimes confusing. Hey sometimes there's even a symbol missing or mis marked on occasion. No company is beyond an accidental typographical error. So how are we supposed to decipher all these symbols and lines?

For me, this simply underscores the need to rely on good, basic sewing skills to guide me through. If I decide on a technique that I'm not familiar with I always have a few comprehensive sewing books on hand. As a last resort I can always do an internet search and usually turn up at least a couple links to explain the procedure. It's amazing what you can find by just typing in a simple phrase.

I hope I haven't confused anyone with the presentation of all these different charts. My goal was really to encourage everyone's creative process. Certainly a sewing pattern needs to produce a garment that fits but we ultimately decide on the details. I urge you to interpret the Lutterloh patterns to suit your sewing style! If you are pleased with the final outcome then you must be doing it right!


  1. Great posting Ann, I fully agree the more I train myself away from those step by step instructions and just learn sewing technigues the happier I am with the finished garment.

    1. Mee too! I have to admit that when I sew a conventional pattern I turn my nose up at their instruction pages. They seem to do things differently than I know works better. However, I freeze with Lutterloh because my instructions are limited. Funny how that works.

  2. Hi Ann and Fonnell,

    You don't need to put this in the blog, but I finally figured out I wasn't registered which is why I could never leave comments.

    Wanted to let you know I did finish my nightie a few weeks after the deadline and have a pic. It's been ages now and not sure it's worth adding this late, but if you'd like, I can send it to you. Let me know. Not sure how to attach a pic though??

    Blog looks great as usual and I've mentioned it to the followers of a Lutterloh group site I found, (, especially your test and information on always scanning/copying at 100% of the original when using copies for making patterns. You were so great to do the proving for the rest of us!! Thanks again for all you do!!

    Been down 3 weeks today with the "never-ending" flu, so haven't done a thing lately, sewing or otherwise.

    Hope all is well with you for this New Year! Hope to be back on the machine soon.....unless I finally bet back out skiing and snowboardingboarding!


  3. Joanne in TennesseeJanuary 18, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Hi Ann and Fonnell,

    I was just wondering when the next "Sewcial" is planned?

  4. Ann and I will be ready very soon! It's a dandy so stay tuned!

  5. HELP! I am trying to figure out what went wrong with dress #135 in the kit supplement golden rule. I made a costume for my little girl who is about two and it did not come out right. Don't know what the measurement of 7.5 is on the shoulder because it would be marked inside the pattern. (It looked to bulky) She is a 50 cm.

  6. I'm not sure what the kit supplement is without the supplement number? It sounds like, from the little bit you have told me, that the shoulder has a dart in it. This is common in Lutterloh. You say this did not come out right but what? Tell me each issue and I will try to help you out.

    You are new with Lutterloh?

  7. You mention using upper and full bust measurements. I do understand that concept. Is this a way to adjust the regular patterns to fit the "Full Figure" and do you use the two measurements when you are using the "FULL FIGURE" patterns

  8. The reason we do both the upper and full bust measurement is that some of us are large busted but our shoulders aren't large and our upper chest is not and patterns made to fit our bust measurement drown us. So we make the upper part smaller and do a large bust adjustment or use the bust numbers for the bust and below. It does not make a difference in the pattern otherwise. Many people need the large bust adjustment and we have talked of it in many of our postings.

    You can use the regular patterns to up to a fairly large size. We don't suggest you get the XXlarge pattern book and tape most of us can adjust our regular patterns to fit well.

    Hope this helps.