What to Do When You Need to Adjust Your Pattern Size

Because sometimes “one size” does not fit all.

Searching for the perfect blocks and applique patterns to use in your next quilt can make you feel a bit like Goldilocks — everything is too big or too small. Never fear — some simple calculations or a glance at a pre-figured chart are all you need to turn that pattern into a block that fits your quilt perfectly.Changing the size of your pattern is simply a matter of using a copy machine’s percentage function to shrink or enlarge the pattern. The pattern’s existing size is 100 percent. If you want to double the size of a block from 6 inches to 12 inches, copy the pattern at 200 percent. If you want to cut the pattern size in half, copy it at 50 percent.

Those numbers are pretty easy to work with, but what do you do when the sizes are more complicated? If your pattern is a standard size, a simple way to find the appropriate percentage is to use this chart from the Quilted Snail.

If your pattern size isn’t on the chart, one simple calculation tells you how much to shrink or enlarge the block. First, enter the block size you want into a calculator. Second, divide that number by the size of the pattern you already have. For instance, if you want a 5-inch block and you have a 9-inch block, divide 5 by 9, which gives you .55. This means you copy the block at 55 percent to achieve the size you want.

When you’re performing these calculations, work with the finished size of block you want. Don’t include seam allowances in your calculations because the allowances vary by shape, and you can add those after you copy the pattern, recommends Martingale. Don’t let a little bit of easy math keep you from using the patterns you love. Share your tips for a pattern you’ve enlarged or reduced, and describe what inspired you to make the changes.