3 Ways to Resize a Quilt Pattern

If you are anything like me, you have a knack for falling in love with a quilt pattern only to find it wasn’t written for the size you need. Bummer, am I right? But, while it might seem like you need to go back to the drawing board and find a new project, there are a few easy ways to modify your pattern to fit your project needs.  In fact, all three of the quilts that I have made so far this year have been modified from the original size in the pattern.  

I am highlighting some of my favorite ways to alter a pattern below, but keep in mind that these are not the only methods.  It is also important to note that not all patterns can be resized, especially very intricate patterns, but the ideas below are a good start for anyone looking to just tweak and bend their project a little bit.  

The First Step

The first step in resizing a pattern is to determine what size you want your quilt to be.  The chart below is a rough size guide if you are looking for a place to start.  However, there are really no exact standard dimensions.  If your quilt is close to one of these sizes, it will probably work just fine.

You may also find that your idea doesn’t fit any of these dimensions.  Sometimes I will resize bigger patterns to make even smaller projects than those listed in the chart…for strollers, car seats, table runners, etc.

Method One: Changing the Number of Quilt Blocks

The most common way that I alter a pattern is by adding or removing blocks.  This method only works, of course, if you are working with a block-based quilt. 

-To do this, you just need to know the finished size of the block and then deduct half an inch for seam allowances (once you sew the blocks together, you will lose a quarter inch on each side).  

-This will give you the size of each block in the finished quilt.   You can then take your desired length and width from the first step and divide them by the size of the block to determine how many blocks you need.

Example:  I recently finished an Irish Chain quilt.  The original pattern was written for a 66×66 quilt but I wanted to change it to a stoller-friendly size.  Each block finished at 6.5 inches, so when accounting for seam allowances, each block would end up as a 6 inch square in the completed quilt.  The original pattern was 11 blocks wide by 11 blocks long (6 inches per block x 11 blocks= 66 inches).

I decided to remove four rows and four columns of blocks to make my quilt 7 blocks wide by 7 blocks long, resulting in the final 42×42 inch quilt pictured on the right. (6 inches per block x 7 blocks = 42 inches)

Method Two: Adding/Removing Sashing or Borders

Perhaps the easiest way to change the size of a quilt is to add or remove borders and sashing.  This works best if the original size is already close to the size you want.  For example, I recently made a quilted pillow cover but the pillow form that I had was too small for the pattern, so I removed an inch from each of the borders to make the cover a little smaller.

Tip: If you chose this method, I recommend that you change all of the borders or sashing by the same amount.  Don’t take an inch off the top and two inches off the bottom, you would be better off removing and inch and a half from both to keep it even. 

Method Three: Highlighting a Favorite

What about giving the pattern a whole new look, by highlighting just your favorite block? This method is a little less straight-forward and should only be chosen if you are willing to really change how the final quilt will look.

The quilts below are an example of how I recently did this for a customer.  The quilt on the left is the twin size quilt that I made for my son using a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  A customer reached out and asked if I could make a travel -sized T-Rex quit.  My solution was just to make one T-Rex block and fill the rest of the quilt with negative space.  But the adaptations are endless here, I could have centered the dinosaur, surrounded it with half square triangles, etc.

*There is also a fourth method of scaling the original block. This is probably the most challenging way to alter a quilt size but works if you want your quilt to be the exact same proportions as the original pattern.  Scaling blocks involves a bit more math and could probably be a post on its own, so I will not go into detail here.  Please leave a comment if this is something you would be interested in learning!

You’ve probably heard the saying “Measure Twice, Cut Once” but when it comes to resizing your pattern, my best piece of advice is to triple check before getting out the rotary cutter!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s