1940s | Dresses | Pattern Drafting | Vintage Sewing

uh-oh Lutterloh

July 16, 2013

As a pattern cutter and a collector of vintage patterns I’d been curious for quite a while about the Lutterloh pattern system and it’s similar-ish contemporaries, a French system called Eclair-Coupe Paris and The Haslam system, I think from America, but hadn’t had a chance to try any of them out. How exactly did the mini-size patterns grade up to virtually any size/shape figure with the special rulers?  Well out of the blue 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 won the bidding on an original Summer 1949 supplement being sold from France. Spoiled for choice much? I printed a few favourites out, did a draw from a hat and this mock wrap from 1949 was the winner on which I finally got to try Lutterloh out.



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 already know how to work all of that out or don’t relish the challenge of learning and experimenting you might get a little stuck.  However if  it does appeal arming yourself with a good sewing  book will certainly help.


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 just wrong on me, the armhole needed moving in an inch and the bust dart was in a bad place; 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 a clever way to do it.  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 crescent shapes then sewed into the armhole did the trick. The belt ends just close in the back with hooks and bars.

All in all an interesting experiment and I will definitely try another. This pattern from 1941 is the next I plan on making:

While Lutterloh Co. is still a very active company producing contemporary pattern styles they aren’t interested in reproducing the vintage books. Google ‘Lutterloh patterns’ for all kinds of further info on the system. The Haslam Pattern System books from the 20s-40s are available as reprinted books I believe  and Eclair-Coupe Paris reproductions on cds can be found on ebay for those who are curious to try one of these  systems out for themselves. They are a good way to access vintage patterns that are different than the Butterick, Simplicity etc ones seen around… or to use just for inspiration  and are a great reference for costumiers as well.

  1. Thanks so much for this helpful info. I’ve been longing for an original copy of Lutterloh but they’re so pricey… I may have to break down and get a cd instead.

    Your dress is lovely too! 🙂

  2. Thank you. Yes the prices for Lutterloh originals can get a bit crazy. Some vendors ask quite a lot for reproductions too, so it’s worth really looking around.
    The french Eclair-Coupe Paris system seems more fairly priced in my opinion for copies.

  3. Great review! I’ve had some older Lutterloh patterns in my possession, but have not yet found the courage to try them. You’ve inspired me!

    1. Thank you 🙂 For a laugh on my blog I just added an edited photo with some serious digital surgery- I really look just like the illustration. A bit scary !

  4. Thanks for this thorough and interesting review! Your result is fantastic.

    I wonder how much of your fitting issues were due simply to the late ’40s cut. Bodices of this period are designed for pretty serious shoulder pads, without which the bodice will droop a lot, especially on the sides, causing side-bust fitting issues. Also, the bodices were designed to be quite wide in the side bust/Underarm area, which can feel odd to the modern wearer.

    Note the fit on this image of Lauren Bacall:

      1. Thank you Jessamyn 🙂
        I know what you mean about late 40’s cuts, I really like those, but this time it didn’t seem like fit issues due to style misunderstandings, just more that the bodice draft somehow was basically off-kilter all over. But as I said it could (and probably was) mainly due to me being hasty in my point marking. To elaborate on the issues: the whole shoulder seam was just too far back and the back neckline was about an inch too wide. The front neck was too sharply angled up from the shoulder yet there was definately not enough space for a pad at the shoulder edge. Actually no side bodice drooping issues, in fact the side seam turned out a good length even with me being a tad high waisted However the vertical under-bust dart was too angled towards the centre front at the top so didnt end up below my actual bust. The sleeve drafted up at a comfortable 17″ armhole and was perfect in hang and I kept my bodice re-draft wide at the underarm because I really like that aspect of the period cut. Difficult to tell if it was really meant to have shoulder pads from the sketch as the torso is so stylized but I didn’t want them this time anyway-the way the 3 sleeve head darts extend the shoulder line was enough for me. I think on my next Lutterloh draft I will use the ruler markings for the next bodice size down and see how that goes in regards upper chest width and also will be ultra accurate on my point markings!

  5. One thing about Lutterloh – Grain line is indicated by the cross in which you put your pivot point. Easy peasy unless you don’t know the trick! As a plus plus size woman, Lutterloh has been very good for me – I have even used the ruler to redraw & change the size of patterns for the Big 4, using their size measurements and creating my own measured points on a pattern. I don’t think you can do any better than Lutterloh for vintage looks myself. Hope you keep trying!

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