Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Reading" the Lutterloh Fashion Drawings

Greetings Lutterloh Fans! Fonnell and I both had a crazy busy holiday season but things are calming down for me a little now. That must mean it's time to get some sewing done right?!

Well, I've decided I need to get some more pants sewn for work but I must admit I have not been entirely pleased with my last couple of pants patterns. Don't get me wrong, I love the fit of all the Lutterloh patterns I've made. I'm just having trouble finding the right pattern to flatter my figure. This is where "reading" the Lutterloh fashion drawings comes in. Most of the major commercial pattern companies use terms like fitted, semi-fitted, loose fitting, regular rise or low rise to describe the fit for their patterns. Unfortunately, Lutterloh gives far fewer directions for their patterns so we must interpret the intended fit of a pattern from their fashion drawings.

The last two Lutterloh pants I sewed did produce pants that fit beautifully and I can certainly wear them but neither one are the most flattering shape for my particular figure. Here is the drawing and pattern pieces for the first pair I made:

On the model I thought this looked like a narrow, straight leg pant. If I were shaped like a narrow legged model perhaps this is how they would have fit me. What I ended up with were pants that were too slim in the thigh area and tapered all the way to the ankles; not a good look for me.

The next pattern I tried was this one with much looser legs:

Although the width of the legs was far more flattering I found the rise of the whole pants to be much higher than I'd expected. So, even though I have two pairs of pants that indeed fit, I don't feel all that comfortable in them.

Learning from my mistakes

Now that I have some more time to sew I am determined to find a Lutterloh pants pattern that will both fit comfortably and flatter my shape. I did learn a few things about my fit preferences while sewing the last two pants patterns. First, I need a roomier leg width to accommodate my fuller front thighs. Secondly, I prefer a lower, shaped waistband to a straight one. I also learned that, like most ready to wear pants, Lutterloh patterns are a little short on me.

With all this information gleaned from my first two patterns I decided my next choice should be analyzed a little more carefully.
If you look closely at the two front pants patterns you'll see that the zipper placket is shorter on the first pattern. This lower rise in front combined with the back yoke of the second pattern will help me alleviate the gap I sometimes get in back from my slight sway back. I know I need to look for a wider leg but I don't want it to be slouchy like the second pattern. So, this is the pattern that I've chosen to try for a happy medium:

I'm hoping this pattern has all the elements that I liked from the first two without the pitfalls of my previous fitting woes. I have the back yoke to adjust for my sway back, the shaped waistband and the wider legs without being a true wide leg pant. I may need to sew deeper seams when attaching the front waistband. I noticed the zipper placket appears almost as high as the second pattern. I will definitely leave off the front cargo pockets too. I don't need a puffy pocket right on top of the fullest part of my legs.

Onward and Upward

To cut down on surprises later I like to do a little flat pattern measuring of my pattern before I cut it out. First I will measure across the mid thigh area to be sure I have enough room. This pattern looks good for me. Next I will find the knee position of my pattern to determine where I need the extra length I've been missing. Although Lutterloh patterns give us the cross mark for lengthening/shortening lines, there's no point in arbitrarily lengthening there if this will then drop the knee point below my actual knees. Here are a couple of drawings to demonstrate how to find the knee position on your pattern.

The drawing on the left shows a red line at the bottom of the front pant leg and another red line at the crotch point. This is done before any seam or hem allowances are added. Now if I take this pattern piece and fold the bottom red line up to meet the red line at the crotch point the resulting crease in between represents my knee position. I have marked this as a green line in the drawing on the right.

When I paper fit my pattern I found that the knee position was right about where it should be already. So, since this pants pattern has fairly straight legs, I've decided to just add the extra length to the bottom of the pattern. I want to make sure to have at least a one inch hem allowance so I'm adding three inches to the length of the front and back leg pattern at the hem.

Evaluating the finished product

Well, I'm finished with the pants and I'd say they came out just as I expected this time. The waistband hits me at my natural waist, the legs are wide enough to accommodate my front thighs and finally I have pants that I can put in the dryer without fear of ending up with floods. Here is a photo of my finished pants:

I made them out of a flat sheet that I was going to donate anyway. I see no point in getting rid of perfectly good fabric if I can use it myself.

Now that I've tried a few different pants drafts from Lutterloh I think there's just one more I should draw out to truly evaluate if I have found my favorite. I still think I need to try a true jeans pattern draft. I will look for one with the yoke in back, a shaped waistband, straight but not wide legs and a zipper fly that appears a little shorter than the last two pants I've made. I'm still trying to find a waist that is high enough in back to avoid gaping but hits slightly below the waist in front. I do believe I'll have to start with a waistband that hits below the waist in front and then make a longer crotch length in back to compensate for my swayback; nothing I haven't done before.

With all the practice I've gained through making all these different pants patterns I'm confident now that I can accurately "read" the Lutterloh fashion drawings!