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 The Quilted Snails 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….

 

Paper Piecing Monday tips

This week as I put my paper piecing block together, I thought of what I have learnt this year doing these blocks… and thought I would share some of my tips.

So this week I choose another of Julie @ 627Handworks great blocks.  The block, Siouxsie, is one that Julie has put up on Craftsy and is block 13 of her Block Rock’n series.  At a $1.00 for the pattern is it a bargain.  You can also download Julie’s free Block Rock’n blocks at Craftsy as well.

paper pieced scrap star block

Tip #1…   I always download the pattern to my desktop before I print.  This is the best way to guarantee that you are printing to the correct scale.  I had some fun issues printing directly from the website early on in Paper Piecing Monday’s life, which resulted in me have to remake some blocks.  Also make sure that you tick the “print in original size” box in your print dialogue box.

Tip #1a… I use normal photocopy paper for printing my patterns.  It is cheap and easily available.

Tip #2… If the block is complex or I am making it complex, I use coloured pens to mark up my paper pattern.  This way I do not lose track of what colour goes where.

star 11 paper piecing pieces

Tip #3… I always glue down my first piece of fabric.  I go through so much Elmers glue it is not funny.  I find it easier to align the first set of seams with one of the fabric pieces already stuck in place and pins cause fabric bunching which is annoying.

glue stickTip #4…  I am always generous with my seam allowance on my scraps.  I have found it is much easier to work with BIG scraps or pieces of fabric than it is to work with precisely cut pieces of fabric.  In paper piecing you get all sorts of weird shapes and having an abundance of extra fabric means that you can get even the weirdest shapes to work, without having to re-sew the block over and over.

Tip #5… Do all sewing with a small stitch length.  I usually do my paper piecing stitching on a length of 2 – 2 1/2.  This helps make ripping the paper off at the end easier, but also ensures the integrity of the sewing.  Ripping the paper off the block can cause stitches to loosen and the smaller stitches helps with this immensely.

stitch setting

Tip #6…  I use scissors to trim my excess fabric, not a rotary cutter and ruler.  I find it quick and easy – I can do it while still sitting beside my machine.  No one ever sees the backside of the block, so I do not mind if it is a little messy.

trusty scissors

Tip #7…. Your iron is your friend. I iron all my seams/pieces to get them to lie flat.  For this block I sewed the first two fabric pieces together on all the pattern sections and then stood up, ironed all the seams and then sat down and sewed the next fabric piece to the pattern.  For last week’s fox block I used my mini iron to sew as I went.  Whatever way all seams get ironed.

Tip #8… Before I sew together the finished paper pattern pieces, I  rip the paper off any bits of the pattern that are bulky or intersect.  This makes the block less chunky and means my sewing machine is less likely to hiccup when it hits the multiple layers of fabric/paper.  With this pattern the center pieces of the block needed to be pulled.  I leave enough of the paper so that you can still see your sewing lines.

remove paper

Tip #9… Tweezers are an essential paper piecing tool.  When you are removing the paper pattern at the end of the process, the big bits are easy but tweezers are the only way to get those pesky little bits of paper that are hiding in the corner of the block.

tweezer action

Tip #10… If at all possible train your husband, children or friend to help you pull the paper off your finished quilt top.  It really does make life easier.