As anyone who knows me will tell you I am passionate about historical and vintage clothing. I enjoy making things using original vintage patterns but I also like to look through modern patterns to see if there are any with a vintage flavour. At the moment I’m nostalgic for the clothes of the late 1960s and early 1970s and have been making garments with that vibe in mind, so imagine my excitement when I saw that the Steely Seamstress was running a competition called ‘Sewing the Seventies‘. It was too good an opportunity to miss.
I may be looking through rose tinted spectacles but I remember the seventies with a fondness, you know, like every summer was long and hot, despite the 3 day working week and all that malarkey because whatever was happening politically the fashions and the music shone through. The fashions were colourful and eclectic in fabulous tactile fabrics such as satin, velvet and suede. Knitting was also also popular with waistcoats, tank tops and even full trouser suits made from wool. Prints were plentiful as epitomised by Laura Ashley and Celia Birtwell.
A length of lightweight cotton paisley fabric that I had lying around in the stash was just calling out 1970s to me and for some time I’d been planning some sort of blouse with it. I can’t even remember where I bought the fabric from but it must have been a while ago as it was 36 inch wide and most fabric is now 45 inch or 60 inch wide. So instead of continually swooning and admiring it I thought it was about time I put it to good use.
I knew it would be perfect for the Lutterloh pattern that had been on my radar for a while. The blouse was giving me a 70s feel with its beautiful full length puffed sleeves.
For people not familiar with Lutterloh it is a self pattern drafting system from Germany. The Lutterloh system, or Golden Rule as it is also known, dates from the 1930s and produce four supplements (A5 size) a year with a variety of styles ranging from fashionable, middle of the road, fuller size, children, men’s and maternity as well as recently starting to add a vintage pattern from their archives. The supplements cost around £15 and if you intend to make half a dozen or more of the designs then it is fairly economical. I first found out about Lutterloh back in the 1980s when I attended a presentation on the system and bought my first supplement and the special graded tape measure needed for drafting the patterns.
Using the special tape measure you draft tops by corresponding bust measurement and bottoms by hip measurement. You pin the tape measure to a cross marked on the the minature pattern piece provided and swivel it around to measure off the various points onto your pattern paper and then join the dots. This is a simplistic explanation and I hope to do a comprehensive blog on a Lutterloh project at some time in the future but in the meantime in depth instructions can be found on the Lutterloh site. I have drafted a few patterns previously but I have to say I am not 100% sold on the method yet because despite double and triple checking measurements sometimes the pieces look out to me and I have to realign them to what I am accustomed to seeing on a pattern piece. However as I have a Lutterloh book dating from the 1950s that has the most beautiful designs and which I am determined to use, then I am going to need a bit more practise with the technique so this blouse was a good opportunity.
I set about drafting it for an average 34 inch bust (86 centimetres as the system is German) and all went well apart from the front edge line which despite several measurement checks sloped off at a strange diagonal. I decided to just draw in the front edge as straight and ignore the measuring. After that slight adjustment the pattern pieces all looked like the ones on the Lutterloh diagram and so I was happy to go ahead and cut out the fabric. As the fabric was narrow it was quite a tight squeeze fitting all the pieces on especially the wide sleeves but I just managed it. As with Burdastyle patterns you must remember to add seam and hem allowances. Now when it comes to sewing up the garment there are no instructions with the Lutterloh system and you do need to have knowledge and experience of techniques such as attaching collars inserting sleeves etc, so for someone new to sewing this could prove a challenge. The blouse made up extremely well and all pieces matched. I particularly love the peterpan collar and the tuck effect to give the elongated cuffs.
To complete the seventies look I have paired the blouse with a pair of flood length flared trousers made in a mock snakeskin effect fabric. This garment was one that was chosen and begun by my daughter a couple of years’ back that I happened to stumble upon in their half finished state in a drawer recently. As I thought the fabric was really interesting I took it upon myself to finish them which involved sewing the legs together, inserting an invisible zip, attaching the waistband and hemming. I also kept visualising a mock lace up on the front to give them that rock chick edge so attached eyelets, a facing and inserted a lace. The pattern used for these was Burdastyle 110 9/2012.
So here is the completed 1970s rock chick look as immortalised by style icons of the time such as Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithful.
How I miss the seventies!