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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!

All You Need to Know: Simple Irish Chain

At the beginning of the month it felt like I was struggling to complete any projects.  But then everything came together and I put the finishing touches on two different quilts in a week…this might be a record for me!  Although it feels a little bit like cheating because this Irish Chain was so simple and fast to put together. But simple patterns and low volume prints make for my favorite type of baby quilt- calming and cozy.

This is the second quilt I made for our little one coming this Spring, but I’m planning to use this one as a stroller, car seat, floor, everywhere kind of blanket.  And for a while, it will probably get more use than the crib quilt I finished last week.  

For those asking about fabrics and patterns, I am sharing all the details below (you can also scroll to the bottom for everything in outline form) 

I have been listening to old A Quilting Life Podcast episodes while I sew, and in several episodes they mention Irish Chain quilts.  I think this is where the idea for this project set in.  I searched through Instagram and found this free pattern from Penelope Handmade. The actual pattern has the requirements for making a 66 x 66”quilt, but it was pretty easy to remove blocks and rows and resize to a 42×42″ baby quilt.  

At this same time, I found the Sevenberry Petite Garden fabric collection and fell head over heels in love, and so I reverse engineered my fabric selection (I started with the backing and found solids to match for the front) to come up with the Kona solids that I chose for the top.

For the quilting, I went with simple cross-hatched lines spaced 2 inches apart. For this I also lengthened my stitch to 4.0.

And quickly becoming my favorite detail to any project is the binding.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post highlighting my favorite (and fastest) ways to make binding strips.  But it turns out there is an even faster (and easier!) way… for this quilt I purchased pre-made binding from Bessie Pearl Textiles.  I chose her delicate pink stripes and I am absolutely in love with how it ties the front and the back of this quilt together. 

All this to say, this was my first Irish Chain but I definitely won’t make it my last!  

Here are all the details:

Pattern: Irish Chain, free download from Penelope Handmade (resized to 42×42″)

Quilt Top Fabrics: Kona in Thistle, Kona in Snow

Backing: Sevenberry Petite Garden Bunches Pink

Binding: Delicate Pink Stripe from Bessie Pearl Textiles

Batting: Hobb’s Heirloom Cotton Batting

Thread: Machine Quilting- Aurfil 50wt in White (2024); Binding- DMC Pearl Cotton Size 8 in Cream

All the Details on my Completed Coralie Quilt

My Coralie Quilt is finally done!  My favorite thing about this quilt is how simple it looks at first glance, but all the precious details you find when you look close.  The quilt top actually sewed up rather quickly, but I took nearly a month to add all the details I am sharing below (scroll to the bottom for all the details in outline form).  The plan is to use this one in the nursery for our baby girl due in May, so I didn’t mind slowing down to make it extra special.

I wanted a simple and delicate look, so I chose a white background with a variety of pink and purple fabrics for the stars.  I chose mostly low and medium volumes, but did throw in a few darker shades for interest.

Because we are using this quilt in the nursery, I resized it from a throw size to a crib size.  I did this by removing a few rows and blocks.  My version ended up as 47x 50 with 7 Lemoyne Stars and 6 Sawtooth Stars.

When it came time to quilt, I again went with simple.  I used a ruler and hera marker for straight line quilting spaced 2 inches apart.  Next I embellished each star with some hand quilting using Aurfil Floss.  This is the only thing I would do differently next time!  I chose a soft pink color that did not stand out on purpose, but I do wish it was a little more visible.  Next time, I would use a bolder color thread but would have embroidered the stitches onto the top before quilting so that they would not clash with the backing fabric.

My last and maybe favorite detail is the binding.  I always finish quilts by hand but this time created my own criss-cross stitch pattern and I love how it came out!

Here are all the details:

Pattern: Coralie Quilt by Liza Taylor Handmade (I resized to 47×50)

Star Fabrics: (As photographed above) Kona in Foxglove; Cozy Ditzy in Plum; Pure Solids in Dried Roses; Wildest Dreams in Burgundy; Pure Solids in Cinnamon; Stay Humble Foresta; Flecks in Ballerina; Sevenberry Petite Lawn Flowers in Pink; Tapestry Lace in Blush; Pure Solids in Blushing; Romance Novel in Hardcover; Pure Solids in Sweet Macadamia; Favorite Sweater in Dusty Pink

Background: Kona in Snow by Robert Kaufman

Backing: Fern and Fungus in Almond by Bonnie Christine

Binding: Art Gallery Pure Solids in Blushing 

Batting: Hobb’s Heirloom Cotton Batting

Thread: Machine Quilting– Aurfil 50wt in White (2024) ; Hand Quilting– Aurfil Floss 12wt in Pale Pink (2410); Binding– DMC Pearl Cotton Size 8 in Cream

THE BEST (AND FASTEST) WAYS TO CUT BINDING STRIPS

If you are a quilter, chances are you are familiar with the age-old debate on how to finish your quilt, machine bind or hand bind?  Personally, I always hand bind my quilts but that’s a post for another day.

Today I want to talk about how I actually cut my binding strips.  While you can, of course, always use a plain old rotary blade and ruler, there are some really easy ways to save time on this step.  And let’s be honest, cutting strips for binding is nobody’s favorite part of making a quilt.

Two of my favorite (ahem, fastest) ways to make binding strips are using my Creative Grids Stripology Ruler or my Accuquilt Go!.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me to compare the difference between these two methods, so here is my honest opinion based on five factors: speed, accuracy, cost, storage and versatility.

First, if you are not familiar with either of these tools, I recommend you click the links above or watch the quick video that I made showing how they work.

Speed

Since no one loves cutting binding strips, getting it done and moving on to your next project as fast as you can is pretty important.  Both of these tools will save you a ton of time over the old-school method of rotary blade and ruler.  I have the XL Creative Grids Ruler, so I can make ten 2.5 inch strips without ever moving my fabric. If I fold my fabric and cut through several layers, that is usually more than enough strips to finish my project. A couple of minutes and my strips are all cut!

The Accuquilt Go! has a die (or I sometimes call them templates) for cutting three 2.5 inch strips at a time.  The die is designed to hold the width of the fabric, folded in half once (about 22 inches) and can cut through up to six layers of fabric.  This means that with just one pass through the machine, there is enough strips to bind a queen-sized quilt.

So which is faster?  Probably the Accuquilt Go!.  It takes a few more seconds to set up but is for sure faster once you start cranking.

Accuracy

Speed doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t making accurate cuts.  The Stripology Ruler has a cutting slot on the end for squaring off your fabric to help make the most accurate cut.  However, you do need to make sure your ruler is aligned parallel to your fabric and straight on your cutting mat.  That being said, it is pretty easy to get the hang of and my strips usually come out perfectly sized.

While my strips turn out accurate 99% of the time using my Stripology Ruler, the Accuquilt Go! probably wins in this category too.  As long as your fabric covers the entire area of the blade on the die, there is no need to line up fabric, and thus less room for user error.  One thing is for sure, both methods give me much more accurate strips than a plain old ruler and blade.

Cost

Price point is where these two tools really start to differ.  The XL Stripology Ruler retails for about $70 (smaller sizes are less expensive, I believe the mini size is about $40).  

The Accuquilt Go!, however, is $325.  There is a smaller version available called the Accuquilt Go! Me, but I can’t speak to how to works.  In addition to the cutter, you also need to purchase each die or template separately.  The die for the 2.5 inch strips is $100 (smaller dies and applique dies are generally less than this). That being said, they are always running sales on their website, so wait for a good one!

Storage

If you are running out of space in your sewing room , you may have to reorganize in order to make space for your Accuquilt Go!  While there are a few different size cutters, you also need to store the different dies and templates.  On the other hand, the XL Stripology Ruler is about 18×22 inches, and chances are you already have a place to store rulers. 

Versatility

The Stripology Ruler is a specialty ruler designed just as it says, for cutting strips of fabric.  The XL ruler allows you to cut any size strip or block, up to 20 inches, in half inch increments (for example, half inch, 1 inch, 1.5 inch, etc).

On the other hand, making binding strips is just one of the wonderful things the Accuquilt system is designed to do.  Once you have a cutter, there are hundreds of dies to choose from to cut shapes; from strips to triangles to curved piecing, and even animals, flowers and hearts for applique.  Next on my wish list is a die for English Paper Piecing hexagons, which includes a template for cutting both the paper pieces and fabric (yes, it cuts paper too!) 

The Bottom Line

If you are just interested in saving time cutting strips for binding or piecing, I think it makes sense just to purchase the Stripology Ruler (it’s one of my most used tools).  The difference in speed and accuracy is small compared to the price difference. However, if you think you will use the system for other block shapes, applique or English Paper Piecing, the Accuquilt Go! is definitely worth the investment!

The Accuquilt Go! may not work with specific patterns, depending on how they are written and depending on which dies you purchase.  But if you love being creative, I think you will love the Accuquilt system. 

And there is certainly the case for having both.  For example, I recently used the Accuquilt Go! to cut strips for an Irish Chain quilt that I am piecing. But used the Stripology ruler to subcut the strips once they were sewn together.   So I guess the real question is, how many quilting tools is too many?  For me, the limit does not exist.

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USA Banner Tutorial

The Winter Olympics are just around the corner (didn’t we just have the Summer Olympics!?!). If you are looking for a fun and easy way to share your team spirit, this USA Bunting Tutorial is just what you need.

The best part is that it is 100% customizable, which means you can use the steps to make a banner for a birthday, holiday or any other celebration. It also helps use up some fabric, from that ever-growing scrap pile!

TEAM USA BUNTING TUTORIAL

Materials:

  • About 1/2 yard fabric, or 10 6x7in fabric scraps
  • Felt
  • Embrodiery Floss (I used DMC Pearl Cotton)
  • 1/2in wide bias tape

STEP 1: Cut fabric into 10 rectangles, each 6 inx7 in

STEP 2: Cut letters (U,S,A) and stars out of felt. I recommend drawing on card stock first to make a template for each letter and star.

STEP 3: Stitch each letter to the right side of one piece of fabric. I centered mine about 1.25 inches from the top.

STEP 4: On the wrong side of each remaining rectangle (you should have 5 left), make a mark 2 inches up from the center. Draw a line connecting this point to each corner.

STEP 5: Place one lettered rectangle right sides together with one of the rectangles you just marked. Stitch along sides and drawn line with a 1/4 inch seam. Make sure to leave the top edge open to turn right side out!

STEP 6: Trim the center triangle and corners. Turn right side out. (I also made a small snip in the top point of the triangle, but be careful no to cut the seam!) Tip: You may need to use the tip of a pencil to really poke the corners out.

STEP 7: Cut bias tape to desired length of bunting. I made mine about 65 inches. Pin flags in place, tucking them between the folds of the bias tape. I started in the center and placed each flag about 2.5 inches apart.

STEP 8: Stitch along entire length of bias tape. And, you did it!!