Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How does the Luttterloh system work

Most of you reading this blog are 
deciding if Lutterloh is all it promises 
You just bought the Lutterloh system 
and have no idea what to do first...

I didn't buy my first Lutterloh book at a sewing store class, or 
see a demo at the big sewing expo.  
No, I saw something on e-bay that was old and beautiful and interesting.
 I bid on it and won a book with several stacks of cards from 1940.
My knowledge of Lutterloh patterns has all been trial and error.
This learning is what I pass along to you... a journey I have taken
and added Ann, a fellow Lutterloh sewer, in.
  A pattern making, sewing journey. 

Lutterloh patterns started in West Germany in 1935.
Maria Aloisa Lutterloh started the business and
collected her fashions 
from several European fashion houses. 

The patterns were designed using the popular math formula
'The Golden ratio'

The idea of the body's shape being in balance
is a true principle
of mathematical balance.

Leonardo Di Vince used the Golden ratio
so do I when designing weaving patterns.

How does it work?
A pattern is made using an apportioning scale
H=full length of body
1/2 H=upper part of body
1/4 H=length of leg from ankle to knee
  from chin to navel
1/6 H=length of foot
1/8 H=length of head crown to chin bottom
1/10 H=face height and hand length
1/12=width of face

This is just a small sample of an apportioning scale

When you make a Lutterloh pattern 
with your tape and pin stuck in the hole

for the size of your bust
and then your hip you are using the system as a 
Graded system
meaning the pattern is enlarged in set amounts from
one size pattern to the next. 
The US pattern companies use this system.

They make a base pattern 
(much smaller than I am)
and grade it (make it larger in set portions)
until it is my size....

I had four daughters (yes one son) to sew for 
and we needed different size patterns for each. 
I could buy a pattern for each girl
or I could do my own pattern grading, which I did!  
Go crazy grading or spend too much money buying patterns.
(now there are multi-sizes in an envelope)
That still doesn't always work

 Brides maid dresses for my daughters wedding
took this many multi-size patterns to get 
all the girls a correct size! 
 Often you must use muli-pattern lines for larger hips 
or smaller bust and suddenly 
it's not a multi-size pattern.

If only I'd had a Lutterloh pattern book back then!  

Here are pj tops for a daughter and
her two children. 
Made in one hour with one pattern!

The Clear Truth of the Matter

If I buy a pattern or draft my own pattern
or make a much faster Lutterloh pattern
I get the same results.


Each system doesn't fit my body without help.

They never have whether I was skinny or round as I am now.
 The people I sew for have the same issue.
You can assume most everyone doesn't fit every pattern right off.

With that in mind I offer the idea that
  some skill in fitting will make the difference.
You just need to figure out your own shape and how it differs from
the patterns you like.....
then learn to adjust for those few issues.
For me it's a bust adjustment, a shoulder, and a length adjustment. 

The biggest problem I see when people try to fit
patterns on themselves is they do too much
Fitting is most successful when
you make small changes and only do one change at a time.  
Most people do too much.


  1. This is good information. I just heard about the lutterloh system and I am dying to try it! It sounds easy and I would love to make fewer adjustments. I know any pattern will need a few adjustments, but that's better than all the adjustments I make now. Again, thanks for your review.

  2. (Sorry to post as "Anonymous" -- I couldn't use the other choices this time, but I'll try to fix that in future comments!) I'm very happy that I just found your site! I attended a Lutterloh demo class at least 10 years ago and really was impressed. I already had their 2 curved rulers from a thrift store, so after the demo class I bought a couple of their basic books to get me started. I liked the method better than the old way I'd always made patterns before, and it was easy to modify the basic shapes to make just about anything I wanted. I've found it to be a really good, easy system, but I've been away from sewing for several years, so I've forgotten much of what I learned in the class. Now I'm ready to start again, so I hope to watch the demo video again and then get some pointers from your very interesting site to get me going again. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. kt

  3. Kt,
    You've come to the right place! We love that you are getting another start on this pattern making system. It's fun too. I love looking at my pattern books marking pages of clothes I want to make. Be strict and make your vest until it fits your perfect and read some of our postings on how to take that vest and fit all the patterns.


  4. I too have brought the system and the pattern making part seems to be easy to grasp- the difficulty I am having is the sewing as I am a beginner! It doesn't really help the beginner understand what to do with the sewing part - has anyone got any ideas??

  5. Mickey,
    If you look on the right sidebar of this blog you will find links to other blog posts and sewing sites that can be a great help to the beginning seamstress. If all else fails I refer to a good basic sewing book like Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing or Vogue Sewing.

  6. I agree wih Ann regarding online lessons. There's a whole series of begginer sewing classes on YouTube called 'FD 50 - Basic Apparel Construction' that take you from sewing tools right though to tailoring.

  7. Sorry Ines, you will need to post your comment in English please. When I tried to use a translating program your comment did not make sense.

  8. Hello there, and thanks for all this. It is very useful information. I have a silly question, forgive me: how do you measure the bust for the Lutterloh system? I've read somewhere that it's not the bust circumference as in commercial patterns, but that you need to place your tape measure higher on your back. Is this correct? Thanks for your help.

  9. Hello Mel,
    If you look at our right side bar under the heading "Lutterloh web sites you should check out" there are links to Lutterloh sites in a few different languages. On those sites there should be videos that will demonstrate exactly where to measure for your Lutterloh system.

  10. I saw the system demonstrated and got a few of the supplies and didn't have a chance to try it out. Now I'm older and am having some physical problems. Does anyone know of anyone in Omaha, NE who does this type of sewing or how to go about finding someone?

  11. I bought this system last year at the Knit and Stitch show in Olympia, London but went on to spend somewhere in the region of £500 to attend pattern making classes drafting 'blocks' for a skirt, trousers and top. None of which now fit because my weight changed! I also realised that I had no idea of how to make a finished pattern from those blocks unless I wanted to study it for the next 5 years or so! I then went to sewing classes although I actually know how to sew no problem its the pattern fit I have big trouble with especially as I am only 5' 1" and have to do a full bust adjustment along with shortening the body length, sleeves, shoulder! So it ends up looking like I am all bust and no body especially on fitted jackets. This too was a disaster as I am still not happy with the finished fit and realise that its impossible to do a good pattern fit on your own you definitely need someone who knows what they are doing to help you, especially seeing if the centre back is in correct place etc. So here I am back to the Lutterloh system! But the first pattern I choose was no.100 a pair of wide legged trousers and guess what they are not coming out right! I have written to Lutterloh and they tell me that because I am standard size and this is a plus size pattern it will not work? I have not found anywhere on their site, book, videos etc to say this. So confusion reigns! I came across your site and have found the information on here amazing and will be trying the Lutterloh system again or its just such a waste of money. I understand I need to make the vest first to get the right fit then do some more adjustments to make a sloper from it is that correct? I have watched a number of demos but am still confused about measuring the bust. I initially did my normal bust measurement but when I made the toile I found it to be too tight in that area. So what I would like to know is do I measure under my arms high up at the back and then round to the chest? This actually changes my measurement from 98cm to 104cm a difference of 6cm? I did read about making changes to the armscythe on your blog too which I found very interesting. Also do I make the waistcoat as if it was a finished vest I would be wearing then do the necessary adjustments, shoulder, armscythe etc to make a sloper for any further patterns? I would really appreciate your comments and feedback please. Thank you Sandy

  12. Sandy,
    Frustration can be great when we can't fit a pattern to our shape. I would say "All" pattern company's can only fit a small number of peoples sizes. You seem to understand where your issues are, large bust can be so easy to solve and I'd do it first in every pattern. We only use the Vest pattern to see our fitting issues, we don't make a sloper. I did write a posting on making a sloper but there is no need. The Vest will let you see your shoulder length, it will let you test a bust enlargement which includes lengthening, It also allows you to fit your Bust, hips and gets all the lengths. You will have to fit the sleeves on a garment in your future sewing. You may finish or not finish the vest. It needs to line up on every seam including the front. You Adjust everything to make a nice fitting vest that fits the way you like to wear your clothes. Write down each change you make. Remember start with a large bust adjustment. Do all of this in the pattern paper. Paper fitting is our best hint! There is re-stick tape you can use, remember to add seams Hems buttons bands etc. fitting is difficult until you see it as a step by step. Making too many changes will make it harder. step one change the bust, step 2 check and change the armscythe, step three work on lengths, step 4 check shoulder, step 5 check the back, get those mirrors out.

    Most of the Lutterloh sites, listed on our side bar, have a video you can watch that shows how to measure yourself.

    good luck to you, we have a lot of postings you can look at for additional helps.

  13. Hello, I just made my first skirt with this system and I am sorry to say, I am a little discouraged, I had a lot of errors that I had to correct on the fabric. Even though the pattern seems easy to make with just connecting the dots, when I was done with my pattern it did not look like the one in the picture from the book. Maybe I am doing something wrong. Perhaps you have some advise!!!

    1. Mary,
      That is discouraging. I'm sure we can make some suggestions. Can you send us a photo of you in your skirt and a photo of the pattern you used. Just giving us the number of the pattern isn't always helpful as there are so many years of numbers! We won't post your photos we will just look at them and write you so include your e-mail address. Remember nothing will be posted. Happy to help

  14. I'm working with a very basic pencil skirt pattern that calls for a "5" mark in a spot. Do I mark on the left side of the ruler where the 5 actually lines up, or do I approximate the measurement to the right of the ruler?? All my other marks have been made consistently to the right of the ruler/tape measure. - Jen

  15. Hi Jen,
    All your dots should be made on the side of the tape where the Lutterloh scale numbers are marked. So in other words mark all the dots on the same side of the ruler just like you have been doing all along.

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  17. After discovering a Lutterloh pamphlet in a used sewing table that I recently purchased, and lots of research...I finally purchased a used system. I am so excited to receive it that I have been tracking my package constantly. - Denise

  18. Denise, while you wait collect some supplies. Paper that will work for making patterns on. A pencil and a marker, I use a cardboard cutting board on a table and can pin my tack into that as I make my pattern. Decide on a way to store your patterns because we never make just one! collect fabric for a fitting vest a must do! I hope you are doing well even if you are house bound as we are. This is a wonderful system yet there are things that will make it more successful please feel free to click on the side bar subjects and learn what you can.