How Does That Work???: Breaking Down the Lutterloh System

A special pattern drafting system that allows you to make custom patterns is great right? Well only if you know how it works. When I was first introduced to this system, it was a learning curve trying to figure it out but once I had it down, I loved it.

The system is founded on the idea that the human body is in perfect proportion and using only 3 measurements: bust, waist, and hips, you can make your own patterns to fit your own body. For me personally, I can use just my bust measurement but that is also my largest measurement too.

To use the system, first find your magic number . . .in centimeters. What I mean about that is take your bust measurement in centimeters and find it on the special ruler. Do the same for the waist and hips.

finding your measurement on the special ruler. 

once you have your number, place it on the cross hair . . . .note, sometimes the cross hair is not on the specific pattern but near it.

last, mark out the dots and connect

Once you have found your number, place that on the little cross hair on the pattern card. around the pattern are little tick mark and numbers. With you magic number on the cross hair, move your ruler to the tick mark and scale out the point based on the number. Do that for all the tick marks.

Once you have all the little dots marked out, connect them to make your enlarged pattern. It is really just like that game "connect the dots". Pay attention for darts, etc.

For me personally, I use only my bust measurement but for others they need to use all 3. If that is you, then the bodice is done with the bust, the lower half of the bodice can be done in your waist measurement but not necessarily. Pants and skirt can use the waist and hip measurement.

There are no instructions. Period. Once you have the pattern that is all you get. Linings, facings, etc. you need to make yourself and that can be easily done by using lets say the neckline of your bodice pattern.

For assembling the garment, you have to use the picture to guide you and your sewing knowledge. Determining where openings go is up to you. Sometimes the picture will give an idea but not always.

I would say this is for advanced sewers or else the very ambitious. Personally, I think this system is very rewarding and you will learn a lot about it with experience.

At this point, you many be thinking, wow, this is great but I need the rule (duh) to do any of this. Where can I get one??? That is a fantastic question and you can get one on ebay. OR! Here. As in right here below. See it??? Yep. That is the ruler. All you have to do is copy, paste, and make sure that it is the prescribed length exactly. (I believe it is 15.8 centimeters).
source - I got this rule from those who run the 20 -2 -40 Style Syndicate. They were kind enough to email me a copy of it for free.

An example pattern and illustration:


Some things I have learned . . . .when you see a wavy, squiggle lines that means gather or ease (gather slightly to fit). Dotted lines indicate place on fold. On the above example, the bottom of the sleeve (pattern in the middle) has little lines on it, that can mean do tucks or make pleats. There are sometimes indications on where to do darts, place pockets, etc. but not always. There are also no always grain lines either sometimes - indications on where to place your patterns on the material. In my own experience, I like to place my wider skirts on the bias if I can while others can be on the straight grain.

Note - bias means the diagonal of the material, straight grain means up and down.

I hope that this helps someone out there who wants to sew Lutterloh. If not or if you have any questions just comment below and I will be more than happy to help.
Before I go . . . .here are the supplies you will need or at least find to be useful:
  • large rolls of paper (which most craft stores carry)
  • paper scissors
  • tape (some pattern pieces are really big)
  • yard stick
  • large flat surface to make pattern
  • writing utensil
  • Ziploc bag to store your patterns (I like to use the big gallon ones but you can use whatever you want to use)


  1. Hi,

    Thanks for posting this :) I just discovered you blog and have added it to my feedly. How wonderful to find others who use vintage lutterloh patterns. I've found that using a large foam board as base (on top of my kitchen counter) makes enlarging the patterns easier, as I can pin the pattern paper onto the foam, and the pattern I'm to enlarge as well. Wonderful discovery :) I'm really enjoying looking at your creations, it's so nice to see the outfits made up. Mostly I've made blouses from my patterns, to amend a wardrobe gap.

    1. Thank you for finding my blog. So glad that you are enjoying it. I agree, a foam board is a great idea. Normally, I use the floor and punch the pins in the living room carpet. I used to use the table but the cats wanted to help too much and push things off the edge.

  2. I am curious about the position of the cross-hairs. Sometimes they are upright, like a t, sometimes they look like an X. What is that telling me? Am I supposed to cut on the bias? If that's so, why does it show the grain line going a different direction?

    1. Hello! Thank you for commenting! For the cross hair, yes at times they are in different positions and that has to do with the pattern pieces development I think. I wouldn't worry too much about that when enlarging your pieces.

      When it comes to grain lines, some pieces will have the grain line and some will simply not. These patterns and the system as a whole assumed the maker had sewing skills. When it comes to cutting out your pieces its really all up to you. For example there are some pattern illustrations showing a garment cut on the straight of grain and then on the bias to show the endless options. When in doubt about cutting out a piece I like to refer to my vintage printed patterns for reference. Hope that helps!

  3. Thanks for sharing. I used my system this morning for the first time. It seemed to go well until I came to joining up my dots. Perfect armholes and necklines but (although checked and rechecked my dots for accuracy), I couldn’t achieve the horizontal hemline or vertical center seam as indicated on the mini-pattern. I think it’s fairly easily corrected but I’m not sure if this is a common anomaly, or something I’m doing wrong. By the way it’s a dartless bodice I was working on. Thank you in advance xx

    1. Is it the lesson 2 dress? Every once in a while the horizontal and vertical lines can be iffy and it's because they may be on a slight curve. If it's the dress I'm thinking of, use a good yard stick and make the lines straight as you can. If the piece looks too short or narrow then apply some pattern altering techniques. I have to narrow the shoulder to accommodate for my narrow frame on some of the patterns.

  4. Thank you for your blog. Does the system include ease? I made the sample blouse pattern and both time the blouse was two small. I double checked the number and all appears correct.

    1. That is an excellent question. The patterns do include some ease. First, let me address the seam allowance: You need to add that yourself. I like to add a very generous seam allowance to help compensate for both my sewing and wearing ease. For the wearing ease: These patterns do make some allowance for wearing ease but clothes from the 40s are much more restrictive than our modern clothes. Clothes today have so much more stretch and are cut much looser. I have found if one is not used to 40s clothes it can be quite uncomfortable and can take some getting used to. German clothes in particular are quite restrictive, more than their American counterparts, based on my sample of both original clothes, patterns and photos. My best advice to you would be to add a generous seam allowance and if the clothes still turn out small then consider going up in your measurements number. Double check you are using your FULL bust measurement, or will be larger than the high bust measurement. I found lots of ladies were having issues simply because they were using the wrong bust measurement.


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