My first Lutterloh dress


I came across the Lutterloh dressmaking system by finding vintage patterns on Etsy that needed enlarging.  I looked into it further and found a lovely site dedicated to using these patterns, and then I managed to buy some on e-bay.

The pattern system started in the 30’s and they are still producing books using the same system today.  You start off with pattern pieces that look like this:

Lutterloh pattern example copy

You enlarge them using your bust and hip measurements and a special piece tape measure.  You do need prior sewing knowledge, or excellent instincts, as there are no construction details and many of the patterns have darts without details of their depth and sometimes width. There is a whole section on sewing techniques and skills, although mine was in German , which I don’t speak.   I believe that the average woman would have a greater sewing knowledge and be used to adding or adjusting darts at the time when these patterns were published.

I chose this dress as my first Lutterloh project because it is gorgeous, and not too precision based as it has the gathered sections.  Lutterloh pattern example copy I decided against the central front seam, but with hindsight think it would have been a point of interest.  I intended to do buttons down the back of the dress as in the original pattern but had issues finding buttons that were interesting enough for the straps on the front and not too fussy, overbearing or lumpy to use on the back.

Whilst I am pleased with the dress, I find it a little plain, and don’t think it suits my body as much as some other frocks I have made.  I think my choice of fabric was poor, but I just loved the colour so very much. The fabric has a light cotton feel, but also has a slight stretch, which I thought would be a good idea as it would be a little more forgiving on the fit if needed.  The straps across the front are functioning as they need to be opened to get the dress on and off – the zip (button opening) in the back only goes to the waist, so you need to be able to open the gathering on the front panel.  2014-05-04 014

I didn’t think I would like the neckline as it extremely high, but I stuck with the original draft and am glad I did as I think it is one of the nicest necklines I have, and it feels sophisticated.  The fit has absolutely delighted me.  I had read that these patterns do fit very well, but given that we are all different shapes and that the enlargement is drafted using bust and hip measurements, I had reservations.  In addition, scanning and printing the pattern and then enlarging it myself does leave plenty of room for human error.  But I am delighted – it fits beautifully around the back.

One problem is that with natural movement, the front seam joining the top to the bottom can become visibly from behind the lower tab.  I have countered this by putting a small press stud between them, just to stop it riding up and down.

It isn’t perfect, but as my first attempt at a Lutterloh pattern I am delighted and hope to try it again in a more interesting fabric.  I hope to do it in a textured fabric, maybe a tweed or wool mix for the autumn.  I would also loved to do the top with the buttons down the back – I know that would be awkward to do up/undo, but that opening is not essential as long as the front tabs are real.

Even more excitingly, I shall be enthusiastically trying more of them!  Watch this space!


Play Clothes Captain!


Yes, I’ve gone all ‘Sound of Music’, and made a frock from some old curtains bought from a charity shop I  – and I LOVE it! 2014-03-15 001 The linings did not come up very bright when washed so they have been used for toiles (nothing gets wasted), and the curtains themselves had one faded area, but I have managed to cut around that so its all good. I started with the bodice from Butterick 5603 as I know it is (now) an excellent fit.  I have already adjusted it slightly to reduce width of the front slightly at the neckline.  This is now my ‘go to’ fitted bodice pattern. I wanted a circled skirt rather than fitted or gathered – I just find that gathering can add bulk to my waistline.  The fabric does have a checked pattern to it which will slope off because of the circular skirt, but I am happy with this – it looks quite effective. I know I can draft my own circle skirt pattern, but looked at my little collection and decided to add the skirt from Butterick B5813, which has 2 deep pleats on each side at the front. As the fabric is fairly heavy and a loose weave, I have interlining it with a light, white cotton fabric.  This has helped to strengthen the dress structurally without adding weight, and stops the pieces from skewing out of shape before stitching.  I had tried washing the fabric at a high temperature to see if it tightened the weave at all, but it didn’t seem to help. I have altered the neckline as I fancied a scooped out neckline with a  fairly low back.  This was my first attempt and I used a french curve.  It took two attempts to get the scoop right as it was more of a curved v-neck at first.  The tip is that the neckline needs to be horizontal at the centre front.  This is before the neckline is scooped out further: 2014-05-22 00.54.24 - Copy When the basic dress was put together I was really pleased.  Need to decide about the length (I am thinking about knee length?) and also whether to face or line the bodice.  Given the weight/bulk of the fabric, I decided to line it with a plain cotton and am absolutely delighted with it now that it is finished:   2014-05-27 03.13.51 2014-05-27 17.32.33 I really love this but do feel that it is probably more of an autumn/winter weight dress as it is very heavy, but this gives the skirt a lovely fullness and swish factor.  It is perfect on those not so warm summer days.  I should be able to add small sleeves in the autumn if I want to then.  I haven’t drafted sleeves to fit into a pre-existing arm hole before so that would be interesting.

Me-Made-May ’14


 ‘I, Elizabeth Owen,, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one item of clothing that I made myself each day for the duration of May 2014’

This is a new idea to me which I love – I missed Dressember completely as I hadn’t heard of it, so feel it will be fun to give this one a go.  It is the creation of Zoe of So, Zo…What do you know?

The idea is simple – you wear something you have made each and every day in May.  I think I can do this, but there are likely to be repeats.  I will hopefully be posting a picture on here each day.  Wish me luck……

Day 11:2014-05-11 12.01.04

Day 10: 2014-05-09 11.12.26 

Day 8:  Another favourite of mine – this one will bDay 9:  2014-05-11 01.08.10e b`logged soon, along with earlier versionsDay 8

Day 7:This is a vintage Mordella pattern.   2014-05-07 08.26.29

Day 6:  The T-shiirt is a raglan sleeved Burda pattern – nothing vintage about it I’me afraid.2014-05-06 09.56.36

Day 5: My flower power dress (one of my favourites) 2014-05-05 016

Day 4:  My first Lutterloh dress 2014-05-04 017

Day 3: My red tulip dress 2014-05-03 18.08.00

Day 2:  Simple crossover warm top (it got cold) pattern from Burda magazine (11/2011). 2014-05-02 12.51.25

Day 1:  Simple A line skirt – plain and simple.2014-05-01 003


Flower power


My next door neighbour bought me this original 1960’s pattern from a second hand shop (thanks Eleanor!). Supplement  It is a semi- fitted dress with various neckline variations -I have seen it for sale on e-bay relatively frequently, so I assume it was a very popular pattern when originally printed.  I know this sounds a bit odd, but I love the dart placement, just a bit more exciting than a couple at the side and vertically down the front.

I went for the wide, scooped out neck line.  The pattern is for a 38 inch chest, which is my measurement but it still seemed large, and had to be taken in pretty much all the way down.  I absolutely love this fabric, a flower patterned cotton from Abakhan’s oddments, and had been trying to decide what to make with it for some time.  I was delighted to just about manage to squeeze this little beauty out of it.


I am so pleased with this dress, it is comfortable and makes me feel pretty – you cant really ask for more than that can you! Image

Red Tulip Dress


I think this is the most flattering dress I have made recently.  It is a Butterick B5032 with the neckline and arm holes of Butterick B5603 (both vintage style patterns).

B5032b 2014-03-24 007B5603a      I love the fabric – really rich reds in a quilting cotton from Abakhan’s oddments.  The bodice is lined with a very light, plain red cotton, almost a shame it cant be seen.

I have never tried a tulip skirt before and was concerned about whether it would flatter my pear shape but I think it does beautifully, and the softness that it achieved by using pleats instead of darts also hides my mummy-tummy.  I think it is a lovely fit around the bust and gives real definition.

I narrowed the neckline slightly to prevent it gaping forward slightly – it was a small adjustment, but one that made all the difference and it was my first attempt at a proper toil!  I think I would slim the skirt down slightly towards the bottom if I made it again as it is a little straighter than I would have liked.

2014-03-24 005                 cropped-2014-03-24-009.jpg

Why do I sew vintage inspired clothes


I have always loved the 50’s and early 60’s styles.  They are not the only styles I like, but they just don’t seem to date in the same way most other era’s fashion statements do in the great circle of fashion.  Not that I claim to be a fashion aficionado or anything – I am a great believer in making the best of what you have but trying to remain comfortable whilst doing it.   I didn’t even appreciate that they were ‘classic’ patterns when I was young, they were just nice patterns for frocks that we could get cheap from the charity shops.

That was my early teens and the patterns all got lost/gifted over the years and I stopped sewing and bought clothes instead.  The only sewing I did was curtains, cushions etc.

I am no longer a slip of a girl, and as I have got older my body has changed, and rightly so.  I did lose a lot of body confidence after having my son and couldn’t work out what suited me.  It took a lot of searching and bad clothes choices to finally stumble upon Pattern Review – how fabulous!  Real people showing how their versions of outfits turned out.  You can look through them and hopefully find someone with a similar body shape to you and see if a dress suits you, listen to their issues about fit, alterations etc and get general good tips on patterns.  This site has been invaluable to me when purchasing new patterns but also when choosing fabrics.

In short – I wear vintage inspired clothes because they give me confidence and make me feel happy, and that’s what its all about.

2014-03-09 024 2014-03-24 0072014-03-24 038






My Librarian Dress – Butterick 6671


I bought this pattern from e-bay and just love it.  Simple lines with top stitching details and raglan, batwing sleeves that I hoped would emphasise my waist.  I also loved the decorative dart details at the waist, something I had only just learned about and was eager to try.

Library dress copy

I wasn’t sure what fabric to use but felt it would work well with something quite dark and plain, especially as I wanted it as a winter dress.  I settled on some black and grey mottle-patterned cotton. Making the dress was not tricky.  The size worked well even though it was a 36 inch chest and I am a 38 – the shape of the top was very forgiving.  I lengthened the skirt and did take the fullness out of the lower skirt quite a lot as it was A lined but I wanted something a little more sleek and slender.  I do like an A line, but I thought straighter suite me better in this instance.  I basically took it in as far as I could without infringing on my ability to walk in it (I make clothes to wear and walk quite a lot) without the need to add a split.  The only other change I made was that I didn’t include a button at the collar.  When completed, I thought it made it look a bit severe.  So, minimal alterations from the original and I got this little beauty.  I absolutely love it and feel that it is both flattering and comfortable – a winning combination!

2014-03-24 021 amended copy