Project Fit - Systems I use Part 1

Lutterloh System

Pattern maker rulers and measuring tools

I started using the Lutterloh System in the 90s. It is sold in a set of 280 patterns collected into a small notebook.  For a subscription fee you can get updates quarterly with new drawings and patterns which include current fashion trends. I have only purchased two of the updates in the whole time I have used this system. If you understand patterns just about everything you really need is already included. I would not however recommend it to a beginner.  

The actual patterns are very small, about 2000 times smaller than an actual pattern. By using your measurements and a special tape measure designed to use with the small patterns you draw out a series of dots, then connect the dots and create a full size garment pattern that is already customized to your personal figure. 

The good 
Accurate fit with minimal alterations, large choice of style options, takes up very little area to store the original pattern library. Easy to make a new pattern for the same style if you gain or loose weight and change sizes. Very easy to create multiple sizes when dressing a group that needs to match, choirs, school groups etc.  

The bad 
Sometimes hard to accurately place the dots because the tape measure is difficult to keep taut and as smooth as a straight edge ruler. Hard to know exactly where to lengthen or shorten for best results. Connecting the dots requires curved tools and understanding which curved tools for which areas. A little experience is best before using this system. 

Lutterloh System and enlarged mini pattern, click to enlarge and see comments in red.

When I use Lutterloh patterns I always make a photo copy so my original pattern is never damaged. The original is always returned to the storage book before I even start to draw the enlarged pattern. When I finish a garment I store the copied image, the full size pattern drawn on tracing paper and a little snippet of the fabric I used, along with any special notes I may have taken in a zip lock bag, which is stored in a large filing cabinet with all of my other patterns.

Recently Brooke at Custom Style wrote about scaling patterns with ratios on a copy machine. I intend to test her system on a few other patterns, but it made me wonder if it could be used on the Lutterloh patterns too. Each dot is aligned with the center and tells you how far out to mark, but the little patterns are sometimes hard to see. This time I picked my pattern and enlarged it by 300% instead of the usual 100%. I am happy to say it works on most pieces, I am still testing it on some of the smaller pieces that are marked from the side instead of the middle. You can see the difference in pattern sizes the photo above.    

Tested pattern laying over Lutterloh pattern

Here is how the front compares to the pattern I copied from a dress that fit the Lutterloh pattern is in green lines, the tested pattern is laying over it, matched at the neck. There are some differences as it is not the exact same dress, but the sizes are close. A muslin test will still be required.

Lutterloh is sold by Tru-fit patterns & tools. This is not a paid endorsement, but if you are interested I have added a link to their website.

 From Online Etymology dictionary

trial (n.) Look up trial at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., "act or process of testing," from Anglo-French trial, noun formed from triet "to try" (see try). Sense of "examining and deciding a case in a court of law" is first recorded 1570s; extended to any ordeal by 1590s. As an adjectival phrase, trial-and-error is recorded from 1806. Trial balloon (1939) is congnate of French ballon d'essai.

test (v.) Look up test at Dictionary.com
1748, "to examine the correctness of," from test (n.). Related: Testedtesting.


  1. "About 2,000 times smaller than the actual pattern." LOL.
    I'm surprised you came so close by increasing it 300% and good for you. Most places say to not increase more than about 125%.
    I'm just getting started with Lutterloh and purchased a kit in July. However, I did attend a seminar in '82 but couldn't imagine myself drawing out every pattern so passed on a purchase.

  2. Thanks for stopping by. I was never dissapointed that I had the Lutterloh system, I went to a seminar just this summer too, to see if anything had been updated and it is pretty much the same, but there were a few things I had forgotten.

    The lines by the dots no longer line up exactly at this enlarged size, but if you use the center of the dot from the X mark to align your tape measure then it does work. It does not work for the pieces like collars, pockets that are marked from outside of the pattern piece. But it is not too hard to only have a couple of smaller pieces to trace.

    Also - I don't trace every pattern, I have several that are favorites and I use them a lot; pants, straight skirt, shirt. I still purchase patterns occasionally, but only when they go on sale for a dollar each, or maybe $3.75 for the premium patterns.


Thanks for stopping by.