Enlarging Paper Patterns

Over the last week or so I have been slowly putting together another Economy block quilt, this time using my stash of Cotton and Steel fabric…

part of my cotton and steel stash

As Cotton and Steel releases more lines, my stash has grown, as has my love for the modern fabric line.  While I was at Quilt Con I managed to snag and huge bag of scraps, which the Cotton and Steel ladies wrapped in a darling canvas tote bag.    It was as I was unpacking the scrap bag that I realised I just HAD to make an economy block quilt using all the fabulous fussy cutable prints.  I had made a small version last year for a swap…

Economy block mini quilt copy

…but my three inch block pattern was not going to be enough to capture some of the prints I wanted to highlight, so I enlarged the pattern to 7 1/2 inches… and got to work…

enlarged economy block

Now I have the luxury of being able to pull the pattern from my EQ program and just select “Print at 7 1/2 inches” but that is not the only way you can enlarge paper piecing patterns.  Before I had EQ I would enlarge my patterns by:

  1.  Cutting out the block pattern I wanted to enlarge, putting it on the photocopier and selecting enlarge pattern X percent.
  2. Dragging a JPEG of the image into either word or Photoshop, opening a new clean letter or A4 sized document and scaling the pattern using to fit the sheet of paper.

pretty print

Now with all these tried and tested techniques getting accurately sized blocks can be tricky, particularly if math is not your strong suit.  Luckily for us there are some tools out there that can help like this Enlargements/Reductions chart...

favorite block

Now I must admit when I am doing an all over block, like I did in this quilt, I do not worry about the exact size of the block.  I am not trying to match the block to anything other than an exact replica of itself so if the block is 7.689 inches wide it does not matter.  I just scale the block to get it as big as I can on a page.

block detail

Actually many of my finished paper pieced quilts are really weird sizes because my blocks fitted on a Letter or A4 sheet at a unconventional size.    Now if you want to try this yourself with this block you can download my 3 inch version or play with the jpeg in my first Economy block post which you can find here

my design wall

But remember when you reduce or enlarge a pattern you should always maintain a 1/4 inch seam allowance around your pattern pieces…. remember to trim your blocks with a ruler and rotary cutter for accuracy…

trimming block

So now you can go forth and shrink patterns for that mini quilt swap or enlarge them to make a cushion cover….


5 thoughts on “Enlarging Paper Patterns

  1. I am far from a math major but it is basic geometry. The size you have (ie. 3 inch block) 3 over 100 (as in %) = needed size block (ie. 7.5 inch block) over x. So 3x= 750 So X= 750 divided by 3 = 250. Place the pattern on computer and enlarge by 250 but make sure the seam allowance stays 1/4 inche.

  2. I must admit to resorting to the most basic tools to recreate a block to a specific size: pencil, paper and a ruler, and a pair of compasses if 60° angles are needed. If I know what size the outline needs to be, the rest follows, and the seam allowance is correct from the get go. If it’s an existing pattern and not too complicated, I’ll go the Word route and scale it there, but I sometimes find that if there are lots of intersecting points, the thickness of scaled-up lines can be an issue and I have to reduce seam allowances if the pattern has them on already.
    Your Cotton and Steel stash is definitely a sub-stash in its own right by now, but I do see why you love their fabrics so much… and they are perfect for fussy cutting!

  3. I admit, I was the annoying kid who enjoyed story problems in math, even in high school. I look at a few numbers for a block and then I start doing a few calculations scratched on some note paper (or whatever is nearby). I scratch a little more to see if it will be the size quilt I want or if I should adjust and pencil a bit more. Even my husband the engineer just looks at me and shakes his head. But for paper piecing I would totally run to the copier, then you know it will fit. And your blocks are looking charming.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the enlargement link! While I can use a copier, the percentages to enlarge have escaped me. Can not wait to see what you make with the scraps.
    You have sparked an interest in me to try something NOT the 1930’s prints I adore. Thanks!

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