|This was a class advertised through my Hancock Fabrics mailer. It's offered by Design to Fit, and uses Lutterloh pattern making/adjusting materials. The cost was only $5, lasted 2.5 hours, and I came away with a free 3-hour video, 6 free patterns and some good lessons.
For $5, I expected the class to be a big sales pitch, and it was. BUT, it was also filled with useful tips and an ingenous pattern-making methodology. The Lutterloh system is based on mini patterns -- only about 2 inches high. You take your bust and hip measurements, which correspond to numbers on a special measuring tape. Then you push a pin into your measurement on the tape, push the pin and tape into the crosshairs of one of the mini patterns (which should be taped to a board underneath a sheet of vellum or other see-through tracing paper), then rotate the tape, marking dots on the vellum that correspond to lines on the mini pattern. Connect the dots using a ruler and a special dressmaking curve -- which is different than a French curve -- and you've got your pattern. Sounds confusing, but it seems to work pretty well.
The course also covers determing where darts should begin and end, what kind of dart to use, and how to move darts on a pattern. The instructor also showed us how and where to shorten a pattern, how to measure our bust and hips, and how to paper-fit a pattern once we got it made.
He also demonstrated the Bonfit slacks pattern maker, and discussed the uses of a roller foot and walking foot. THe instructor talked about how certain pattern pieces should be longer than others -- for example, the sleeve cap should measure no more than 1/4 inch longer than the armhole, and the back of a shirt should always be slightly longer than the front. Then he showed you how to get your sleeve cap the right length before stitching. One of the pamphlets handed out at the class demonstrated short cuts to use when sewing in sleeves and collars and crotch seams. Basically, Design to Fit recommends working with your machine -- letting the feed dogs to the easing when stitching a back shoulder to a front shoulder or a collar to a neckline, and using the walking foot when stitching same-length seams (such as center front of a blouse) to prevent the feed dogs from easing in your bottom fabric. According to the instructor, once you learn how to do this, you don't need to pin anything anymore. I kind of believe him, because this is how the clothing industry sews its clothing -- no pinning, and all fabric is prepared and cut before you even begin sewing.
Of course, Design to Fit wants you to believe that you can't do anything you learned in the class without several hundered dollars worth of their tools and books. The main book contains something like 250 mini patterns that you can mix and match as you please -- definitely a good buy if you sew for hours each day and make most of your own clothes. The tools that intrigued me and that I bought were the dressmaker's curve and the tailor's curve. I'm hoping to be able to use these tools to adjust many of the patterns I have at home.
The class also pushed you to buy the Olfa cutter and mat system, which I know is a great system, I'm just not ready to spend $150 on that yet. Rotary cutters scare the crap out of me. I just know I'll slice off a finger.
So, if you get a chance to attend this class, spend the $5 and learn a lot. Be prepared to be sold to, but don't feel pressured to buy. Of course, there are differences in the prices of everything depending if you buy it right there in class or mail order it. I checked Design to Fit's Web site and guess what? Their online prices are the same as the class prices. So if you want to think it over before you buy anything, and don't mind paying shipping fees, you can get the same stuff offered in the class at the same prices, without the pressure of a salesman. That's what I did: slipped out right after the class was over, thought about what I wanted, then ordered the curves online.