Monday, 25 June 2012

Back Again!

What a bad little blogger I am. So long since I have posted. What a year so far.....a couple of trips to hospital (one for DD and one for me) the loss of my much loved MIL and all those other things that happen in life from time to time. Now it's time to move forward and get back to Lutterloh. Can I say I really miss my DD? How spoiled was I when she lived just around the corner? Because of the distance involved I have decided to shelve her pattern-making journey for the moment and will fine-tune the process I use for my own patterns. I have made another endeavour to give up smoking and, in the process, have put on 10kgs. Unfortunately I am still smoking! This weight gain has muddied the waters a bit as I didn't want to sew for my new body but, what the heck, even the new me needs some new clothes. I can always do some alterations if/when I lose the extra kilos.

I have been relatively happy with the way the system works for me except for the upper chest/shoulder/neck area. I have been making adjustments on a pattern-by-pattern basis but it is now time to get this area working for me as well.

My ultimate aim, for DD and myself, is to convert the fitting issues to numbers so I can draft out any pattern using the specified numbers without the need to further alter the patterns when drafted. Of course any height/length adjustments will have to be done on the pattern, there's no getting past that.

I am working on a raglan-sleeved top with a rolled collar/neckband. It is a slow and painstaking journey. I first drafted the top in my usual way and made a muslin so I could estimate the adjustments I will need in my problem area. I am now ready to draft my second pattern, using smaller numbers above the 2nd lowest armhole 'dot' on the front only. It will mean that my back shoulder will be wider than the front but I will either ease this in (if it's small) or make a small dart. I will have to make these same adjustments on the sleeve head.

So that's where I'm up to. I will be back with an update and photos when I have something positive (or not) to report.

Back soon:

Monday, 9 January 2012

Muslin Fitting #2

Finally managed to pin Anna down, in between moving trailer loads of stuff to her new home.
I used light-weight sew-in vilene to draft the pattern. I cut off a piece of my normal paper and pinned the vilene to the paper to add stability and it worked a treat. The paper also stopped all the texta dots from transposing to my table. I added standard seam allowances to the pattern at the shoulder and side seams so I could pin the pattern together for fitting. I forgot to take photos of this stage, but the only things I changed was to remove 1cm from the shoulder width and removed 14cm from the front waist darts so they didn't sit so high. The extra width around the hip did allow the vest to sit lower and, I think, much improved the fit. Okay far, so good!
Now on to the muslin, duly made with the above alterations.

 Pretty good, right? I have pinched out 4cm from the left armhole, but instead of making a dart here I am going to have a go at removing this with a sewing technique. Just removing this excess makes the armhole look a whole lot better than the right side.
Here's the back. As you can see she needs that extra width around her hips, but there is too much fullness up higher, so.........

I will increase the width of the back waist darts to give the back a little more shape. I have only placed one pin in each dart at this stage, to let me know her waist point and how much to take the dart in. I will smooth them out when I sew them in. Another option is to add a little belt with a buckle, at the pin placement, which will allow Anna to take it in further if she wants to. The belt could actually be placed inside the dart.
So I am now quite pleased with this result, as is Anna (very important). She's not fond of the width of the top of the vest, but as it is a pattern design issue, we have decided not to worry about that.
I am now going to put this aside for the moment and will work on a shirt for her. It is now only 6 days until final moving day so I am running out of time. I am not convinced this is the best garment to use as the first test run for fit. Surely a fitted sheath dress with a standard set-in sleeve would be better? If I can get the shirt muslin ready as well, I will make the two garments and post them to her. She can then take photos, send them to me and I will report back here. It's getting exciting now......
Back soon with the next project.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Progress on the vest.......or lack thereof!

Well my first effort is a wadder. I was madly altering the pattern, taking in here, letting out there, overcompensating all over the place. When I made the muslin it was obvious, for every problem I solved, I made another.

As you can see, the fit looks a lot different in fabric than it did in paper.

So......I took a backward step, scratched my head and tried to work out where I went wrong. Then I remembered what I had been told at the start of the first online workshop I did. "Forget everything you know and start fresh". Okey dokey. Let's do that! At the rate I was going, I wouldn't be able to easily sew for Anna if she was here, certainly not from long distance. So, off we go again!

The first thing I am going to do is use light-weight vilene as my pattern 'paper' instead of the newsprint paper that is pretty stiff. I did find it was much easier to fit around the neck/armhole areas without having the seam allowances added, so I will stick to that. As I am using the vilene this time, it won't be as easy to tape the pattern pieces together, so I will add seam allowances to shoulder and side seams so I can pin the pattern together for fitting. My thoughts are that the vilene will more closely replicate fabric by moulding to the body, so should be a better indicator of the fit.

The hardest area to fit, for both Anna and myself, is around the chest area. We both have large boobs but a narrow chest above the boobs. Armhole 'gaposis' is a problem. In my first effort I decided to dart the armhole to get rid of this, but now I am going to try to ignore this and take care of it later with a sewing technique (ala Sandra Betzina in her book Power Sewing).

When I draft my patterns I always add 4cm to my hip measurement, before starting, to give me extra ease around the tummy area. When I used my true measurement, I found that the patterns (no matter which one I used) drafted out to my exact hip measurement, there was absolutely no ease in there. This has worked really well for me, so I will do the same for Anna this time. I wonder if the original pattern may have been too snug around her hips so didn't sit low enough and that may have been the cause of all the extra length between armhole and shoulder? This would also explain why the armhole appeared to be too high for her. I will also check her shoulder measurement, but will do that at the tissue-fitting stage.

Back soon, with better results I hope!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Tissue Fitting Results

So far so good. I am pleased with the results so far. The vest pattern fit Anna quite well although I do have to make some adjustments. The neck and shoulders are fine and don't need any tweaking at this stage. The shoulder bust dart is perfect in size and position. The circumference of the vest and the waist length is spot on and she likes the overall length of the vest.
Now on to the adjustments:
Ignoring the crinkles above the bust (caused by the extended arm, pattern paper and the photographer's concentration on trying to highlight the problem area) the front armhole was way too 'gapey' so I have added a dart here. This in turn has raised the armhole, so I will cut the armhole down by the same amount I removed in the extra dart. This should keep the armhole the same size so I don't have to alter a sleeve head - of course not a consideration for a vest.
The back is too long between the shoulder and underarm so I will remove that excess as well but instead of a dart (as in the front to make room for the boobies) I will just remove it all the way across the back. I don't like the waist dart placement either, I think they are too close to the CB so will move them towards the side seam so they are roughly in the middle.
I have also moved the front waist dart closer to the side seam so the top of the dart is in line with the shoulder bust dart and Anna's bust apex area. Lastly, I am not sure if maybe I will have to pinch out some excess at the neck edge of the shoulder seam, but will check that at the muslin stage.

All in all, a pretty good result I think. As I write down what I am changing it seems like a lot of messing around but really the only area of concern is the armhole. When I have that sussed out to my satisfaction, I will make a template of the front and back armhole which will make it really easy to apply to future patterns. IMHO this is where this system is so much better than the Big 4s. You only need to do this once and the same adjustments are automatically made to any pattern drafted in the future. Doesn't matter if your weight goes up or down, you just change the measurements you use on the tape measure but the alterations remain the same........or so they say! I have found this to work for my own patterns so far.

Normally I would re-draft my pattern with the alterations and then just start cutting/sewing the 'proper' vest fabric, but I will make a muslin this time as I am trying to perfect the pattern for someone new. Using fairly stiff paper to fit is a great starting point but working with fabric to fine-tune is a must, at least for now.

So back to the drawing board for me. I will be back soon with a revised pattern and a muslin vest to check the alterations I have done so far.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Let's Get Started

Here are my tools, ready to go. My 2 rulers, a picture of the vest I will be making for my daughter Anna, a photo copy of the little patterns I will need to use and the Lutterloh kit that holds the tape measure, push pin and tape.

I have taken Anna's measurements over a shirt, which is how she intends wearing her vest.  Her bust measurement is between sizes on the tape so I have used the measurement above her size.

I like to colour code my little patterns before I start. In this case I have used a green hilighter for the waist and above measurements and a pink hilighter for all measurements below the waist. On the top of the pattern copy I make a note of the measurements I am using and hilight them as well. It takes no time to do this and I find it helps me keep on track and to remember to use the two different measurements when drafting.

I have taped the little pattern picture to my drafting paper (I use an end-of-roll newspaper print) and have extended each of the lines and made my dots. I won't go into great details about this process as it is readily available on many other sites, including
When my pattern pieces were drafted I cut them out without seam allowances. This is the first time I have done it this way as usually I add the seam allowances first so I can pin the pattern together for fitting. Thought I would try it this way as I've been told it is much easier to fit around the neck and armholes without the seam allowances getting in the way.

So here is the finished pattern, taped together at the shoulder and side seam with the front bust shoulder dart taped in place also. I have transferred the markings for centre front and waist line and back and front waist darts. The waist darts will be adjusted on Anna. For myself, I don't use the waist darts at all, but as her figure is more hour-glass than rectangle, I suspect she will want them. As Anna and I are both generously endowed around the bust we have always needed an FBA using the Big 4s. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't need to do this with the Lutterloh system and am keen to see how this system will work for Anna. I have packed up my pattern, tools and camera and will tissue-fit the pattern tonight. 

Back soon.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

What I Have Learned So Far

As I have had my Lutterloh system for a couple of years already, I have followed the recommendations and made the trial vest to test the fit of the system on me.

I purchased my Lutterloh system from Sonja and Andre at Lutterloh New Zealand - I can't say enough good things about these two, but I guess #1 would be....GREAT SERVICE. I have also done several of Sonja's online workshops which have been invaluable in the learning process. When you have been sewing for many years, struggling with the Big 4 pattern companies, it is quite a learning curve to adjust to this system, or so I found. You really do need to forget everything you know and start again.

So here is what I have learned for me:
Reduce shoulder width
Lower bust dart
Reduce waist length
Add 4cm to hip measurement before drafting pattern to allow for extra ease over the tummy area.

I apply these four adjustments automatically now to each and every pattern I draft. The only other area of concern is necklines. All necklines are too big and too low. Of course I do have a funny shape! I am basically a 'rectangle'. I have a broad back and a narrow upper how do you figure that happened? At this point in time I have decided not to worry about further investigations for the neckline problem. By following the 4 adjustments listed above, the patterns fit great across my back and shoulder area so I have chosen to pay particular attention to the neckline at the tissue-fitting stage and make any adjustments on a pattern by pattern basis. With the help of Pam Too, this is not a biggie.

As I have done the ground work for my own patterns, what I've decided to do now is a 'start from scratch' using my daughter as the model. (You out there Anna?.....Ok?.....I promise to crop all photos to keep you looking decent). Anna is moving (a couple of hours away) in late January so if I want to be able to sew for her I will need to get the system working for her before she goes. She won't be so readily available for fittings but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get the fitting/adjustments so spot on that I will be able to sew for her without her being here. BUT that's what I'm aiming for!

Roll on 2012......

Look What I'm Getting For Christmas!

Woo Hoo! DH says I can't have it early, but a quick photo before its wrapped doesn't count....does it?
Here is a photo of Pam Too as she looks now.

As you can see she is somewhat unattractive. She's been padded out with toy filling and quilting wadding, taped with masking tape and all covered with a singlet. She works surprisingly well but to celebrate the Year of Me, Me, Me! she's going to have a make-over. I found it took me a little while to trust Pam Too. You know how it goes.......tissue fit on the model but better just put it on me to make sure. It took a little while to build up that trust and I suspect I might have to start over with the upgraded version.

Monday, 21 November 2011


I'm setting up my blog. This is new to me so I imagine I will have adjustments to make along the way. I won't be posting much until the beginning of 2012 when I plan on starting my Lutterloh journey in earnest. I have had the Lutterloh pattern-making system for a couple of years but have only touched on the surface of making full use of it. I've dabbled with a blouse, dress and pyjamas for myself and made some maternity clothes for my grand-daughter. I'm pleased with the results so far, but I need to stretch myself. I want to master pants. I want to be able to see a picture and be able to copy it using my Lutterloh system. I would like to be able to sew for my daughter and grand-daughter with minimal fuss but great fit! Is it possible? Watch this space in 2012 and share my journey.