Back when we were planning the line-up for the June/July 2017 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts, we decided it would be fun to offer a free mini quilt pattern based on Violet Eyes by Stephanie Sheridan, which is a 65″ x 65″ throw quilt composed of 9 large blocks.
The job of resizing the pattern fell to me as the assigned editor, and I enjoyed the challenge of writing it as a traditionally pieced pattern rather than as a foundation-pieced quilt. (What can I say? I like patchwork.) The result was Looking Glass, a 23″ x 23″ mini quilt pattern that’s available for free download from the McCall’s Quilting website. In order to make all of the patches easy to measure and cut I did make a few minor changes to the proportions, so it’s not a perfect to-scale version of the larger quilt but it’s close enough.
I did something similar with the free mini quilt pattern based on Homeland by Candy Hargrove, which was published in the July/August 2017 issue of McCall’s Quilting. Resizing Homeland was easier than resizing Violet Eyes, since it’s made up of uniform triangle-squares; all I had to do was decide on the unit size and make a few simple calculations to translate the throw pattern to a mini quilt pattern. And one of our readers did us one better by making an even smaller version with triangle-squares that finish at a half-inch—you can see a picture of it the new November/December 2017 issue.
I was able to write both patterns because, well, it’s my job to know how to do so. But there is no Secret Quilt Editors’ Code, nor is it highly technical, specialized work; this knowledge is available to all.
Knowing how to resize blocks—that is, knowing how to do some math—means having the tools to make quilts in the sizes that work best for you. It’s not hard to do, and once you get the hang of it you’ll have unlimited creative freedom, whether that means making adjustments to someone else’s pattern or branching out to create your own original designs.
In this short “Quiltmaker’s Block Network” tutorial, Shayla Wolf walks you through breaking down a quilt block into its component patches and doing the math of enlarging them to create a bigger block.
In this episode of “Quilters Newsletter TV: The Quilters’ Community,” fellow editor Gigi Khalsa showed me how she doubled the size of a quilt block from a pattern published in Quilters Newsletter … then doubled it again to make a 48″ block, along with the pieced quilt back she made in order to turn it into a crib quilt. Watch as Gigi’s fabric choices change depending on the size of the block.
Sara Gallegos covers basic quilt math and resizing blocks in-depth in two different episodes of “My First Quilt.” In the first, she describes resizing blocks that are made with squares and rectangles. View the full episode for free.
In the second, Sara walks you through the math needed to resize blocks that are made with triangles. This full episode is also available for free viewing here.
For a more structured approach to learning how to resize quilt blocks, check out the on-demand webinar “How to Resize Quilt Block Patterns” with Deb Finan. Deb starts with simple blocks, progressing to more difficult ones. Basic math skills are all you need to resize most blocks—no graph paper or computer software necessary. Deb also addresses some common mistakes people make when resizing blocks; sometimes knowing what not to do is just as helpful as knowing what to do!
Quiltmaker offers a nifty worksheet on their website to use when resizing quilt blocks; it includes formulas for including seam allowances and a fraction-to-decimal conversion key. Click here to download the worksheet for free.
Trust me: armed with only pencil, paper and a calculator, you too can increase or decrease a block or quilt pattern to make exactly the quilt you want to make. And if you have any questions, leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.