Floral and green Lutterloh dress

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I was given some fabrics by someone I met on Facebook who was having a clear out.  They were furnishing fabrics, and coordinated well with one another.  I had used some of the plain green fabric to make my walkaway dress, but had a fair amount left.  The floral fabric I had originally wanted to use as the front of the walkaway dress had not been wide enough, but went so well with the green that I really wanted to use them together.  Also, I have wanted to be a bit more adventurous with mixing fabrics.

Page  (27)I had really like the look of a Lutterloh pattern (112) for a while, and it seemed the perfect opportunity to give it a go.  It was from the “domestic bliss” pages of the book (circa 1955), a few pages dedicated to making pinafores, aprons and coveralls for the modern woman so that she can set about her daily tasks suitably attired.  This was a pinafore that you could wear over your smart clothes but gave pretty much full coverage and was quite large on initial stitching to reflect this fact.

2015-04-22 002I enlarged the pattern using a proper Lutterloh tape measure which I only recently acquired from e-bay.  I had used a printed copy previously and have to say that using a proper measure makes it feel so much easier and I do feel that the points were more accurate. I did have a little help with this:2015-04-03 002

The floral fabric (curtain or cushion fabric) was much thicker than the plain green, but I like the contrast.  The section is enough to give the whole dress body and the ‘jushhh’ factor I am often after.  I love the shaping created by the pleats in the front.  It did take a fair bit of altering as the centre front was particularly wide, which is why the shaping around the bust ended up being quite rounded and pronounced, it was while I was fiddling with it but then I liked it so I kept it.  I feel it is quite a balanced look.

I have done very few button holes since restarting sewing, and not covered any buttons at all.  I had intended too cover some normal buttons from my stash, but, as I was using the floral fabric, didn’t want to stitch through the covered button, so I bought some metal cover yourself buttons.  Unfortunately, having spent a disproportionate amount of time choosing exactly which floral bits to make into buttons, I only had one successful button – one covered but quite squashed button, and one squashed but still refusing to clip into place button.  I appreciate that my fabric was quite thick, but still found it disappointing.  A few days later, I purchased the same buttons but the plastic version (cheaper but I just liked the metal ones better) and these worked so much better.  So I finally had my funky buttons.

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The overlap at the back was quite large and I had to reduce this, and also decide whether to just stitch down the back or leave the extra fabric from the crossover in.  I went with the latter.

2015-05-10 009 2015-05-10 011I am very pleased with my results, not the best sewn dress ever, but I think it is really quite pretty.

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My first Lutterloh dress

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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!