Uh-Oh Lutterloh

A few months ago I was very generously gifted not one but two Lutterloh pattern books on cd, from 1940 and 1941. That very same week on eBay I bid on a Summer 1949 supplement being sold from France. Amazingly I won it for not too much. So completely and utterly spoiled for choice and unable to decide which design to start with I photocopied a number of my favourites and randomly drew this one to be my first Lutterloh make.  That fine cotton hummingbird fabric I posted about back in April was used for it – and going by my self-imposed ”one out-one in” stash rule I can now buy a new fabric ;)

I resisted the impulse to edit my pics to make my waist look as small as the illustration… or to make the illustration look as realistic as me.

So without more ado here is my Lutterloh 1949 make:

VVlutterloh dress2 VVlutterloh dress1Lutterloh was started in Germany, 1935,  and is still going strong today. It’s similar-ish contemporaries were a French system called Eclair Coupe Paris and The Haslam system which I think was American. This is a YouTube video of the Man From Lutterloh demonstrating with a simple waistcoat how it all works (14 minutes long if you have the patience). I find the principle totally intriguing and would love to distribute my own patterns in this miniaturised way but I’m quite sure the method is copyrighted up to the hilt so will be sticking with the old multi-page cut n’ tape pdfs for now.

So how did my try at Lutterloh go? Well, drawing the pattern out was dead easy like the advertising says. But…and this is a big, HUGE  ‘but’ : there are no seam allowances included on the patterns, no real indication of grain placement, and no facings or lining pieces. Also there are absolutely no sewing instructions or finishing suggestions, no hints of what to interface, line or even where to put openings to get the garment on and off.  So, basically, if you don’t know how to work out all of that or really don’t relish the challenge of learning and experimenting I wouldn’t recommend rushing off to buy one of the (expensive) reproduction vintage booklets on Cd that are available. There are some lovely styles from the French system sold singly on Etsy by Mrs.Depew Vintage which could be an inexpensive way to experiment if you are so inclined. Someone else on eBay in the USA sells whole collections of vintage Eclair-Coupe  Paris on Cds at a (in my opinion) very reasonable price. If it does appeal I recommend you consider arming yourself with a good sewing and  perhaps a fitting book as well.

How accurate was the pattern once drawn out? Actually not too bad at all. The sleeves needed no alterations other than shortening to suit me and the skirt just a little adjusting to hang well. I did add a good amount more fullness into it than the pattern had though. The bodice needed the most alteration as the shoulder height and pitch were really wrong on me, the armhole needed moving in an inch and the vertical under-bust dart was in a bad place so I finally just took one of my own basic bodice blocks and made a similar pattern with it, knowing then that all elements would fit me. I’m not at all sure if the bodice problems were due to me being a bit careless with how I marked my initial pattern points or what. I’ll have a better idea when I tackle a second style.

I made a muslin mock up first which as well as highlighting fit issues was a huge help in deciding how to finish edges and where to locate the zip. I opted for one in the left side seam instead of a centre back one, and made the left side under-wrap  pass through a slot formed by leaving a part of the right dart open…rather than the usual side seam opening, which I thought was kinda clever pat on back.  The neck edges are finished with a narrow self bias binding. The three extended sleeve darts definitely needed some support so some very stiff Vilene cut in crescents shapes then sewed into the armholes did the trick. The belt ends are just closed in the back with hooks and bars.

I’ve read on the internet that while Lutterloh Co. is still a very active company in producing contemporary styles they aren’t interested in reproducing the vintage books. I also have gleaned that the company is fairly hot on copy write infringements- it seems ok for people to post pictures of the styles but absolutely not of the actual patterns. Google ‘Lutterloh patterns’ for all kinds of further info.

Anyway it’s an interesting pattern system, a fab way to access unusual vintage patterns from 1935 onwards and like I said (while gazing at my badly organised shoeboxes bursting with vintage pattern envelopes) until you draw them out on paper they take up virtually no space!

Lutterloh maybes

Ah, and what about the fab chunky platform shoes I’m sporting in the pics you ask?

Audley 'Dingo' shoes

Ok you didn’t but I’m telling anyway- they’re from Audley, London, bought as a ‘my foot is better’ celebration. After my stupid, stupid foot breaking accident of last September (and I never wore those stupid wide legged trousers again!) I lived in sensible, supportive, lace-up walking shoes for 8 whole months. Nice with trousers but dreadful with dresses. I’m also still doing foot strengthening exercises and lots of foot massage and can see a pair of ‘Joan’ shoes from ReMix in my future to go with my next up Lutterloh make planned in brown wool crepe with brown velvet applique leaves:Lutterloh1941

Next day edit:  The urge to do some digital surgery became too great this morning so here is me as a Lutterloh Lady :)


Two Little Ladies From Lutterloh

Frank Lutterloh, the current head of the company has just started a Lutterloh blog as of Sept. 2013 featuring both contemporary and vintage clothing made with the Lutterloh system. Should be interesting!

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathy G.
    Jan 23, 2014 @ 23:59:10

    Ohhh Vera! Hi! That 1949 dress came out absolutely beautiful! There is nothing wrong with your waist! It’s just that you have a normal waist while the model’s drawing has a very tiny waist. Plus I think people from the 1930’s – 1940’s were still pretty petite in stature– especially the women. I have those patterns too and now that I have seen you make it I may give it a try. I’m having terrible fitting issues with Lutterloh due to my shape. I am shaped like a rectangle or a column with little to zero waist definition. Also I am plus sized so that adds to my being out of the Golden rule in sizing. Sigh. I will keep working on the basic blouse so that I can make a better sloper. Thank you for all your inspiration!


    • VeraVenus
      Jan 24, 2014 @ 10:15:59

      Hi Kathy, I agree and also think having a good set of personal slopers and using the vintage Lutterloh patterns mainly as a guide to draft styles from is a good way to go about it. I ended up doing my bodice that way. Certainly was less tweaking the of the fit! Persevere with your personal slopers…. lots of design inspiration to be had from vintage styles! :)


  2. tekstil bursa
    Aug 16, 2013 @ 21:04:12

    perfect, thanks.


  3. Catherine
    Jul 27, 2013 @ 08:38:12

    A wonderful dress and I love you as a Lutterloh lady too!
    It seems strange that in the current climate of all things retro and vintage fashion that Lutterloh are not enthusiastic about releasing some of their older patterns.You would have thought that they would have wanted to cash in on it.
    Well done on the recovery of your foot by the way!!


  4. Melanie
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 04:14:38

    Your dress is fab! I always wondered what that Lutterloh palaver was all about. Trust the Germans to come up with a such a savvy little system. As my husband and I often remark while cruising around town in our Audi – how ever did they lose the war?


  5. Amanda
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 19:58:01

    Reblogged this on Sew Deputy and commented:
    I think this is such a great blog. A very talented lady!


  6. Annie Sharkeys
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 07:25:34

    Dress is gorgeous so into tea dresses at the mo. Glad u had a look at this system I’ve been mulling over doing something with it but wasn’t sure where to begin. I will definitely give it a go keeping in mind ur points. As always great shoes.


  7. Magical Effects of Thinking
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 01:40:43

    Wow. I can do the 1940’s patterns with just the little dots, but no grainline indication? Wow, those ladies knew how to do it, as do you. I don’t think I’m ready for the Lutterloh! But, I love the print and the new shoes!


  8. theresa shaw
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 01:32:00

    The dress is beautiful! I love the fabric!


  9. Milenushka
    Jul 16, 2013 @ 18:15:18

    I like it! I have a few vintage books from this system myself, but I have to say I am using them more as a guide to draft my own patterns, haven’t tried the system properly yet. So thanks for this post! Very timely and full of curious information as usual. How did the wide legged trousers make you fall? Be well and thank you for the inspiration:)


    • VeraVenus
      Jul 16, 2013 @ 19:56:25

      I was running in my house to answer the door and wearing some very wide trousers- one foot got trapped in fabric and I went down like a chopped tree. It was a nasty break but almost as good as new now . For a shoe fan like me its been hard!
      Yes, I think using Lutterloh more as a guide is a good way to do it… it doesn’t take much to throw an entire pattern out and make it a little wrong everywhere especially if one isn’t used to how a pattern piece ought to look. Still, interesting to try it.
      All the best to you :)


  10. margiewinn
    Jul 16, 2013 @ 17:46:49

    I’m partial to the bodice on that dress with the diamonds. I probably wouldn’t do the diamonds around the hem, but the bodice is exquisite!


    • VeraVenus
      Jul 17, 2013 @ 09:06:00

      I know what you mean about the hem diamonds, if the skirt length isn’t just right they could certainly look too heavy. I rather like them though and would probably add them.. but maybe smaller ones than illustrated.


  11. Michelle jadaa
    Jul 16, 2013 @ 16:47:57

    Lovely! I’ m more into the fifties myself and drool over the lutterloh on ebay :)


  12. Anthea
    Jul 16, 2013 @ 16:46:04

    Yay! Another Lutterloh sewist! I have the 1941 book too! I also have 1938 and 1954. I’m planning to make dress 121 from 1941 this summer.

    I made a few garments from the lutterloh books and I had huge problems with resizing the patterns. I now use my block patterns and draft my own inspired on the Lutterloh illustrations. And I use the miniature patterns as a guide.

    (P.s. I recently nominated you for a Liebster Award).


    • VeraVenus
      Jul 16, 2013 @ 17:38:50

      Ooh, 121 is really pretty!
      I think I will probably end up doing as you do and use my own blocks too… I know it will save some fitting, faffing and fuming time that way.
      Thank you for the award nomination ! :)


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