There were shouts and exclamations of delight as Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon told the 53 men and women at a demonstration of the Lutterloh method of garment pattern-making that the ministry would be giving each of them the full system, valued at $950 each.
Gopee-Scoon made the announcement at the beginning of the tenth class in the method at the Jimmy Aboud store on Henry Street, Port of Spain, on Wednesday.
The classes were led out by Frank T Lutterloh, grandson of the originators of the method. They were held on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with four hour-long classes each day, and 50 participants per class. Lutterloh said 100 people turned up to the first class on Monday, so the class had to be split in two.
At least 600 people turned up in total over the three days.
Lutterloh said his grandmother developed the method in 1935, and his family had been using it to develop patterns for all sizes and body types, including putting out fashion lines four to five times a year. Currently he and his three siblings run it, and they are looking to pass it to a fourth generation.
He said it is based on the golden rule, and the fact that parts of the body are proportionate to each other. For example, the width of the outstretched arms is equal to the height of the body, and the measurement between the elbow and the wrist is equal to the length of the foot.
The system uses bust and hip measurements, together with a special tape measure, to create a dressmaking pattern.
Lutterloh showed participants how to draw a vest pattern using their personal measurements and the specially developed sizing scale, how to connect the dots using a tailor’s curve, how to add darts and buttons using the special ruler which comes with the system, and how to amend the pattern depending on the person’s height or lack thereof, and their figure.
The full system kit comes with the tape measure, rulers, pins, and over 280 patterns developed by the Lutterloh family.
Before the first class on Wednesday, Lutterloh demonstrated the system using Gopee-Scoon’s own measurements. She was in awe of how simple it was, and told Newsday she intended to get someone to make the vest for her.
Jimmy Aboud Textiles director Gregory Aboud said the course had been going on for more than 15 years pre-covid19.
“Mr Lutterloh said TT always surprises him by the interest, because the people are more interested in sewing and the system than any of the other 17 countries he goes to in Central America, South America and all other Caribbean islands.
“TT beats itself up a lot, complaining about each other. We start thinking we are different peoples living in one country instead of one people with differences.
“(But) every person in this room, especially the women we see as our customers, comes with one mission in mind, whether it’s to save money or to look good for an event, or to improve themselves or their lives, or to sew something for somebody else, and it’s one of the positives about TT.”
Aboud said the shirt he wore to Panorama was made by a woman from Morvant who had learned how to sew from the system and runs a sewing business.
He said he invited the minister because she had shown genuine interest in the fashion industry.
“I feel those of us in the sewing business can approach you,” he told her, “because you have an appreciation of the value of people working with their hands.”
On the usefulness of the classes, he said, “I feel this is an avenue that is valuable for all citizens when they come and buy their fabric and sew their own clothes or curtains; they save a lot of money. The vast majority of those who take the class always say, ‘Thank you, it was very helpful to me.’
“It’s our great honour and privilege to share this trade, which made us who we are today, and the amazing people of TT who helped us to grow, because their style and their fashion and their designing and ability to choose colours and to wear the colours that make them look good made us the capable people we are.”
Lutterloh says normally he comes to the Caribbean every two years, but he would consider coming back to Trinidad next year owing to the interest and because it is a beautiful country.
Gopee-Scoon thanked Lutterloh for coming from Germany to teach those present.
She said the women and men taking the course could improve not only their own businesses but their communities.
“You have a place in growing the economy, and growing your communities: you can hire someone else to assist you when you develop your businesses. The mere fact that there are 500 people turning up to do this, it tells us we have to do more at your level to provide those courses, to ensure there’s a space for you on the value chain.
“We absolutely need you, so apart from doing your own business, it means you can be part of the value chain of the sewing industry and the fashion industry, to ensure our output and capacity are greater.”