Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Reading" the Lutterloh Fashion Drawings

Greetings Lutterloh Fans! Fonnell and I both had a crazy busy holiday season but things are calming down for me a little now. That must mean it's time to get some sewing done right?!

Well, I've decided I need to get some more pants sewn for work but I must admit I have not been entirely pleased with my last couple of pants patterns. Don't get me wrong, I love the fit of all the Lutterloh patterns I've made. I'm just having trouble finding the right pattern to flatter my figure. This is where "reading" the Lutterloh fashion drawings comes in. Most of the major commercial pattern companies use terms like fitted, semi-fitted, loose fitting, regular rise or low rise to describe the fit for their patterns. Unfortunately, Lutterloh gives far fewer directions for their patterns so we must interpret the intended fit of a pattern from their fashion drawings.

The last two Lutterloh pants I sewed did produce pants that fit beautifully and I can certainly wear them but neither one are the most flattering shape for my particular figure. Here is the drawing and pattern pieces for the first pair I made:

On the model I thought this looked like a narrow, straight leg pant. If I were shaped like a narrow legged model perhaps this is how they would have fit me. What I ended up with were pants that were too slim in the thigh area and tapered all the way to the ankles; not a good look for me.

The next pattern I tried was this one with much looser legs:

Although the width of the legs was far more flattering I found the rise of the whole pants to be much higher than I'd expected. So, even though I have two pairs of pants that indeed fit, I don't feel all that comfortable in them.

Learning from my mistakes

Now that I have some more time to sew I am determined to find a Lutterloh pants pattern that will both fit comfortably and flatter my shape. I did learn a few things about my fit preferences while sewing the last two pants patterns. First, I need a roomier leg width to accommodate my fuller front thighs. Secondly, I prefer a lower, shaped waistband to a straight one. I also learned that, like most ready to wear pants, Lutterloh patterns are a little short on me.

With all this information gleaned from my first two patterns I decided my next choice should be analyzed a little more carefully.
If you look closely at the two front pants patterns you'll see that the zipper placket is shorter on the first pattern. This lower rise in front combined with the back yoke of the second pattern will help me alleviate the gap I sometimes get in back from my slight sway back. I know I need to look for a wider leg but I don't want it to be slouchy like the second pattern. So, this is the pattern that I've chosen to try for a happy medium:

I'm hoping this pattern has all the elements that I liked from the first two without the pitfalls of my previous fitting woes. I have the back yoke to adjust for my sway back, the shaped waistband and the wider legs without being a true wide leg pant. I may need to sew deeper seams when attaching the front waistband. I noticed the zipper placket appears almost as high as the second pattern. I will definitely leave off the front cargo pockets too. I don't need a puffy pocket right on top of the fullest part of my legs.

Onward and Upward

To cut down on surprises later I like to do a little flat pattern measuring of my pattern before I cut it out. First I will measure across the mid thigh area to be sure I have enough room. This pattern looks good for me. Next I will find the knee position of my pattern to determine where I need the extra length I've been missing. Although Lutterloh patterns give us the cross mark for lengthening/shortening lines, there's no point in arbitrarily lengthening there if this will then drop the knee point below my actual knees. Here are a couple of drawings to demonstrate how to find the knee position on your pattern.

The drawing on the left shows a red line at the bottom of the front pant leg and another red line at the crotch point. This is done before any seam or hem allowances are added. Now if I take this pattern piece and fold the bottom red line up to meet the red line at the crotch point the resulting crease in between represents my knee position. I have marked this as a green line in the drawing on the right.

When I paper fit my pattern I found that the knee position was right about where it should be already. So, since this pants pattern has fairly straight legs, I've decided to just add the extra length to the bottom of the pattern. I want to make sure to have at least a one inch hem allowance so I'm adding three inches to the length of the front and back leg pattern at the hem.

Evaluating the finished product

Well, I'm finished with the pants and I'd say they came out just as I expected this time. The waistband hits me at my natural waist, the legs are wide enough to accommodate my front thighs and finally I have pants that I can put in the dryer without fear of ending up with floods. Here is a photo of my finished pants:

I made them out of a flat sheet that I was going to donate anyway. I see no point in getting rid of perfectly good fabric if I can use it myself.

Now that I've tried a few different pants drafts from Lutterloh I think there's just one more I should draw out to truly evaluate if I have found my favorite. I still think I need to try a true jeans pattern draft. I will look for one with the yoke in back, a shaped waistband, straight but not wide legs and a zipper fly that appears a little shorter than the last two pants I've made. I'm still trying to find a waist that is high enough in back to avoid gaping but hits slightly below the waist in front. I do believe I'll have to start with a waistband that hits below the waist in front and then make a longer crotch length in back to compensate for my swayback; nothing I haven't done before.

With all the practice I've gained through making all these different pants patterns I'm confident now that I can accurately "read" the Lutterloh fashion drawings!


  1. Thank you Ann for this post! Your pants fit you so well. I also like pants to hit me at my natural waist. I even believe it is more flattering.

    When I sewed the shorts pattern, I knew that I wouldn't have enough fabric in the front for the pleats because of my tummy and I was fine with that. I also tend to stand with my pelvis tilted forward and my pants always have horizontal wrinkles in the back of my thighs but the shorts pattern didn't show these lines!!!!

    I, as you, also like a straight leg pant. I cannot wait to search for one that appeals to me and my body type and sew them up!

    I hope you find another favorite!

  2. Hi. I enjoy your blog and the assistance you've given me as I learn to use my Lutterloh system. I've searched and searched, but haven't found a solution to my problem.
    I'm struggling with how to draft the pattern for and the actual construct of jacket patterns with a one piece front with a front "dart" and a welt pocket. It appears as though the dart should be cut out. Should seam allowance be added to the dart? To the pocket openings? I have several jacket patterns like this in my collection. For reference, it may be helpful if you look at patterns #MMVII 236, 245 or 137. The answer is probably glaringly obvious, but I'm stumped. Thanks for your help.

  3. Hi Sue,

    This is what we are really good at.
    Let Ann and I see if we can find this pattern and we will put a comment right back on this page for you. It's sat and the northwest summer is calling me outside, I'll grab my Lutterloh pattern books and see what I might have like that.
    We can solve this!

  4. Hi Sue,

    I'm not finding a #245 from 2007 but from looking at the other two pattern drawings I can tell you, yes, you will need to add seam allowance to both the dart and the pocket edges. Anytime Lutterloh has us cut on a solid line we need to add seam allowance. For pieces such as your pocket where only measurements are given we still need to calculate the addition for adding the seam allowance. This is because not everyone prefers the same allowance. I hope this answers your question. I have to run off to work now but will check back this evening in case you have any more.

    Ann in Calif.

  5. Great Answer Ann,

    I also could not find these patterns but there are plenty like it. Check your bodice pattern piece. If you see an arrow (standing vertically) on either side of the front dart it means you are cutting two front pieces.

    Darts are a way of taking in extra fabric and a way of making fashion lines. They can be made from two different pieces as in princess lines, or folded from a pattern edge and sewn. You never have to keep all the fabric that is sewn into a dart, any size dart can be trimmed, we just don't bother for smaller, seam line darts.

    I believe you may have a pattern That is in two pieces.

    A welt pocket is a new challenge for many sewers, do look this up in your favorite sewing book and try to understand how it will effect your pattern.

    We have suggested several sewing books if you don't yet have a good one.

    And as Ann said all Lutterloh patterns require us to add our own seam allowances, hems, etc to all parts.

    I use a 1/2" seam in most patterns.

    Most button bands are in the patterns but the facing is not, you can add it to the patterned band and just fold it over. This would mean no seam allowance needed on the facing and button band. If you cut the facing separate you would need seam allowance of both the pattern front and the facing.

    Soon you will have all this in your head and know what to do.

  6. Thanks to both of you for your quick response. No question the front is one piece, not 2, as there is not a cutting line separating the front. I will add seams allowances.
    To construct the front, I guess I sew the "dart" first, then attach the pocket pieces to finish the front before I sew the shoulder seams?
    Again, thanks to you both.

  7. yes darts first always.. Try it on...
    Test the fit....it would be best to fit before adding the pocket treatment. We'd welcome a photo of your finished project and if you can send a j-peg scan of the paper we'd love to include that.

  8. I love your site. So many wonderful handy hints. You both explain things so well.

    I have just purchased the XL/XXL system.

    Can anyone tell me if it's possible for me to use the smaller sized patterns with my larger tape measure?

  9. No you can not use the blue XL system tape with the normal system....But you can purchase a normal tape at one of the Lutterloh sites on our side bar. However the styles in the XL system are not well suited for the normal sizes....Enjoy looking at all those styles!

  10. I just purchased the Lutterloh system and if my slacks come out as nice as yours then I will be happy. I am a size 8 but I am long waisted so I guess I will have to do some fixing.
    I hope this blog is still in service, since I will need to check in here from time to time.

  11. Having just purchased the system I hope you will make a fitting vest and figure out all your own fitting needs. A well fit vest can lead you to nicely fitting the patterns all through your new book.

    However with pants it is wise to make 1" seam allowances for adjusting. Most adjustments we make for pants are done on the side of the pants.

    If you have a bit of a tummy it is best to bring the front up higher, by angling from the side seam up to the center. Usually it is just the front that needs it.

    You will find many posting on all aspects of Lutterloh patterns on the side bar, click and you may find just what you need.


    1. I have enjoyed the lessons you teach haven't gone through it but what I've read each time I stop by is very pleasing I have learned a lot and get a lot of what I do read keep up the good work and be Blessed!

  12. gwendolyn_e@hotmail.com
    How or were do buy a tap measure?
    Or do you have the web sight were I can order one The web sight I have and phone number no longer works
    Thank you for your time
    Elder G.Everett

  13. You will need to order a tape measure from the Lutterloh in the country you are in. I'm sorry to hear that some are out of business. I will check our links and see which are still active. We do not sell we only teach.

  14. looks like the links to each country are working they are over on the right hand side bar of our blog.

  15. HI am trying to draw my first lutterloh pattern but it is mis=shapen. Are there tips on how to position the pattern properly so the drawn pattern is correct.

  16. miss-shape no problem. Please read our posting on how to draw that first pattern.

    Also look at some of our photos of patterns on the paper that we drew. Until you cut it out and lay it against yourself you won't know if it's correct. I'm guessing it will be fine.

  17. I am having a difficult time understanding how to mark a dart on the pattern. I have watched to video three times and I need to see a different illustration. If the number is not attached to the pattern line does that mean I draw it inward to the point of the pin? Thank you,

  18. The dots for the darts are marked in the same way as all the other dots. You line the tape up with the line next to the number and mark a dot at that number on your tape. If this is a dot for a dart the line may not actually be extending from the outline of the pattern. The lines next to the dots are simply a guide for you to line up the tape. Sometimes there are no dots to mark the dart at all. In this case you are supposed to paper fit the pattern and fold out the dart to fit your shape.

  19. hi i was wondering abput the pants pattern above for waist band do you draft it seperately or draft it exactly as it is and connect the lines

  20. Many of the lutterloh patterns have several pieces lined up for drafting. It is good to learn how these work. The pant back has not only the yoke it has the waist band. This lets you see the shape of the crotch circle. Right off some of us like to adjust that so better butt fit. This allows us to adjust all three pieces at once and that is really handy.

    Now look at the symbol chart (we have one posted or the front of your pattern book should have one) the hash marks at an angle show that those pieces will be have a facing. Going up to the pattern with fashion model on it (it is the same pattern as right above) you will see that each piece has it's own two letters. That tells you to cut them apart, add seam allowances to all sides of the pieces and proceed with sewing the pants together. Jeans have a great fit and it is that yoke that makes it happen.

  21. Hi I just want to find out how to get the correct grain line from the Luterloh patterns please. I bought mine a year ago and I can still not figure out how to do that. If someone can help me I will be great full.

  22. Hi Sandra,
    Typically the grain line on most garments runs parallel to the center front or center back. If you look at the symbols page in your Lutterloh pattern book you will see that these are marked right on the tiny pattern. The exception to this would be if the fabric is cut on the bias in which case the grainline runs at a 45 degree angle to the center. These too are marked on the tiny Lutterloh patterns and are sometimes accompanied with a number to denote the angle. A good, comprehensive sewing book should explain this in more detail than I can type here.

  23. What measurement do I use the waistband piece all the way around on patterns like the first one (90) where the waistband shares a few dots and then has empty space? The hip or bust measurement?

    1. It's not the shared dot that should concern you as you are just cutting the waist band off right through the middle of those dots. The waist band is separate. This is Jeans patterns, closely matched at the
      zipper and eased through the back almost like a dart. What you need to be concerned with on #90 is a low long waist band. you can do the pattern with your waist measurement,and then paper fit. If it needs it take your hip measurement and increase at the hip the needed amount. This is just an adjustment not a need to make a whole new pattern.