patterns · sewing

do you Lutterloh?

Have you heard about, or worked with, Lutterloh patterns?  I first saw them in action at a Craft Fair a year or two ago.  It is a pattern drafting system, using downscaled patterns drawn on a small sheet of paper with a special ruler to enlarge them to the size that you want.  A friend of mine recently returned from a holiday where she spotted three copies of the 1972 version of the Lutterloh system in a op shop – and she kindly brought one back for me as well as one for herself (and the third copy for another sewing friend).

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

This folder is rather small – about A5 size – but contains hundreds of patterns! Around 300, I think!

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

The above text states: A “teach-yoursel” manual enabling people of all ages to learn a method for designing and cutting out patterns for all types of garments in all sizes for men, women and children. The Lutterloh Method is based on a system of proportions of the human body and teaches people in a short time to make accurate patterns whatever the fashion.

Now I have to say, the actual sewing instructions are fairly minimal. I feel that there is a fair bit of knowledge that is assumed. That said, I am very keen to give this a try. I imagine that I would have my usual fitting adjustments to make – after all, my proportions aren’t “perfect” – but it would be a fun experiment. It was worth the purchase purely for the illustrations if nothing else! I thought I’d share a few of my favourites – be warned, lots of photos ahead!

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

from (C) 1972 Lutterloh manual

Apparently Lutterloh started in 1935, and is still available in over 40 countries and translated in 15 different languages. The New Zealand website is here (I think they service Australia as well) and you can google for others.  Seasonal supplements are published four times each year and there are special volumes available for children, men, and fuller figures.

So, do you Lutterloh?  I’d love to hear your experiences of the system – or even if you also have vintage editions in your pattern collections!

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25 thoughts on “do you Lutterloh?

  1. I’ve got a 1950s one I picked up in a second-hand bookshop; some of the patterns have been removed, but it’s mostly intact. They’re very cute, classic 50s styles. I’ve been meaning to order the special ruler, but I’m not sure it is worth it – it seems too simple to actually work for anything other than a standard size. I think Patternreview has a thread on Lutterloh,

    Honestly, it’s in the book stash for inspiration, but I’d probably just look at the pattern and develop my own version from a well-fitting block.

    Do you remember the Enid Gilchrist magazines? They went from babies, through kids and teenagers to adult women’s patterns. I’ve got a big book of the kids patterns; since my daughter just got married, it’s too late to try them out on her, but eventually there may be some grandkids; although I really don’t feel old enough!

  2. Some very fun designs there! I’ve not heard anything about them. I know there’s a vintage pattern seller on etsy who uses a similar ‘golden rule’ concept… Will be fascinated to see what you come up with if you end up using it. Also loved your denim eucalypt frock despite your misgivings!

  3. I purchased Lutterloh when I first started sewing as an attempt to get a pattern in my size. Unfortunately I picked the one pattern in the whole folder that had a FAULT in it and I was too inexperienced in sewing (only 2 months sewing at the time) to understand. Here are a couple of posts about it if you are interested – although with your experience you probably wouldn’t be fazed.

    http://ontheroadtosewwear.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/lutterloh-top-supplement-278-aug-2010-i.html

    http://ontheroadtosewwear.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/lutterloh-is-not-working-for-me-doh.html#comment-form

    A couple of years later someone commented on another post that it has now been identified as an actual fault and fixed. But it ruined my experience and I haven’t picked it up since.

  4. I got so frustrated trying to trace off the patterns I gave up in disgust! I had a few years when I didn’t sew – older and wiser I revisted Lutterloh and ended up selling my set. It’s a lot of work to go through to end up with a pattern that will still need adjusting. The sizing is based on a full bust measurement which to my mind would mean that the neck/shoulders will be too big.

    I once asked a seller of the Bernina pattern system about Lutterloh – she said she used Lutterloh for inspiration and the Bernina petterns to make the garments.

    To my mind it’s much more satisfying to print off a Lekala pattern which needs minimal tweaking and get on with the fun of sewing!

  5. What a brilliant op shop find! I have a 1960s Lutterloh that I’ve never used for sewing because I don’t have the ruler but the pictures are fantastic to look at. Thanks for sharing yours!

  6. In the 70’s I had a kit, also had 4 kids, job, house, social life etc.etc. At that time patterns right out of the envelope fit very well, so did rtw. Given the time needed to draft the patterns their use was pretty limited, so was my patience. Have thought since of giving it another try but I doubt it will happen. Too many big 4 pattern sales and so many great independent patterns available quickly. I guess I need patience RIGHT NOW.

  7. I recently acquired a set of vintage Lutteroh (30’s-50’s), but have only used it for inspiration & dreaming, I love the line drawings 😉 I adore your 70’s patterns, such a wonderful friend to find 3 copies & share!

  8. I use purchased patterns and Lutterloh. It depends on what I need and how fast I want access to a pattern. Lutterloh works great. I enjoy drafting patterns. There are a few things you need to know when using Lutterloh. When you measure yourself, you need to think about ease. If you’re making a coat, you won’t want to use the same two measurements you would use for the top you would wear underneath. The second thing is, you do have to know something about sewing because there are no step by step sewing instructions. It’s best to plan how you are going to progress through the make prior to starting and write it down so you know where you’re at in the process. I love the flexibility. It’s also easy to make slopers off of Lutterloh. I like the fact that the upper body and lower body are based on two different measurements and grading between the two just happens as you connect your dots. Pick something easy to start and then enjoy!

  9. Owned this system in the 70’s. Some of our favourite outfits came from these patterns. So easy to use.. I saw the up to date version at the Craft and Quilt Show last year….and sometimes Stitches magazine has a article that gives a free pattern with a photo of the tape to photocopy…libraries have the magazines.

  10. I’m currently making my first Lutterloh dress for my teenage daughter. The pattern drafting didn’t take long. But, the back pattern was too short. I needed to lengthen it to match the front. No biggie, since I’m an experienced seamstress. But could be trouble for someone newer to sewing. I used her FB measurement and was surprised to find it was huge. I fit the tissue, then made a muslin. It’s a really cool design.

  11. I have never heard of it before. It look fab.
    I used to draft and sew Enid Gilchrist patterns, very sweet and they use minimal fabric but I am fairly addicted to O+S now.

  12. In case anyone may be interested, I’ve just put up the third copy on eBay – opening bid of $36 which is what I purchased it for……bargain really! item number is 281562659138, and description is lutterloh golden rule vintage patterns. Cheers and happy sewing.

  13. I’ve used Lutterloh patterns off & on since the 1980’s. My favorite uses for Lutterloh patterns is making period costumes (I have PDF collections from almost every decade from the 1930’s to the 2000’s) and using the ruler to enlarge Big 4 patterns that do not come in my size range. To me, I think this system is a good bridge between using pre-printed patterns (also the trace-off patterns such as Burda & Ottobre) and learning how to do “from scratch” patternmaking.

    I think if you don’t have enough experience in the order of how to sew garments and if you don’t know much about fitting yourself, Lutterloh is challenging! And, both of those deficits can be covered by a couple of good sewing books. However, I continue to use mine only occasionally, as right now I’m much more interested in experimenting with SureFit Designs. Looking forward to your Lutterloh experience!

    1. HOLA COMO ESTAS SOY DE MEDELLIN COLOMBIA ACABO DE CONOCER EL FOLLETO DE PATRONES ES MARAVILLOSO PODRÍAS POR FAVOR AYUDARME CON LA DIRECCIÓN PARA COMPRARLO

  14. I recently purchased a lutterloh special edition no 9 for children’s clothes. There is no date. I suspect it is from 1966. I also have a .p df of the 2008 edition. My experience has been good so far, as I have been sewing for 10 years.

    Anyone interested in trading? yadira.grissom@yahoo.com

  15. I have two Lutterloh books, one from the sixties, and one from the eighties, which is the first one I bought, after attending a demonstration of the pattern drafting. I have been sewing since I was 9 or 10, so I am experienced, though not exactly and expert, sewer. I also do pattern drafting, using the method taught by Dorothy Moore in her 1968 book, Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking. I find it lots easier to sketch up a Lutterloh pattern than to draft one from scratch. I have had mixed success with the patterns, I made one really cute outfit for my daughter when she was in first grade, using a pattern that was marked for her age range. When she got to high school, however, she seemed to be the wrong size for both the adult and the child patterns. They don’t seem to work if you are too far off the size range. She was 5’2″ and about 98 pounds, at that time, with a figure too girlie for children’s sizes and too straight for women’s sizes. Lutterloh patterns didn’t work for her, but neither did the big pattern companies, and even drafting from scratch didn’t always come out so well. Overall, I think Lutterloh is a good addition to your sewing kit. Use it, don’t just look at the patterns. If you have limited sewing experience, I have the idea, that you could used the instructions from a similar garment pattern you already have. Happy sewing!

  16. That was a blast from the past. I used to own this version, I so recognised those patterns and did make some. In those days my measurements were standard, I think a little more alterations will be needed now. Having kept the tape measure I recently decided to have a go and have just ordered Spring 2017 leaflet. I keep my fingers crossed.

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