How to resize FPP quilt blocks
Picture this: you just found the perfect foundation paper pieced quilt block for your project, you love everything about it, the motif is exactly what you were looking for.... and then you realize it's the completely wrong size for what you need. (insert sad face)
All is not lost, though, because shrinking and enlarging FPP quilt blocks is actually quite easy. Learn how to change the size of any foundation paper pieced quilt block with this easy tutorial and downloadable chart. All you need is a printer and/or photocopier and the Easy Quilt Block Resizer that does all the math for you. No more missing out on the perfect quilt block because it's the wrong size.
A quick note before we get started - this method works for foundation paper pieced quilt blocks because they use templates. If you shrink or enlarge all the templates in a block by the same amount, they will still fit together exactly as planned, the block will just get smaller or larger. This does not necessarily work the same way for traditionally pieced quilt blocks. I'm working on a tutorial for that as well, though, so keep an eye on this blog for a follow-up (hint, hint, signing up to my email list is *the* best way to never miss a new blog post).
How to do the math
In order to shrink or enlarge a pattern, you'll need to know what percentage you're changing it by, since photocopiers and printers let you enter a percentage of the original size, not lengths or other measurements. So here's the math formula for you:
For example, let's say you have an 8" block pattern but you need it to be 14". Divide 14 by 8, which makes 1.75. Multiply that by 100 and you have 175%. If you end up with decimals, round up or down to the nearest whole number. So if you get 166.666%, round up to 167%.
If you'd prefer me to do the math for you, you can download the Easy Quilt Block Resizer below. It has all the most common sizes listed and I've done all the math and rounding for you already.
This does add you to my email list, but if you find that my monthly-ish updates are not really your cup of tea, there's an unsubscribe link in all of them. And I promise you my feelings won't be hurt ;-)
How to use the Easy Quilt Block Resizer
To use the Easy Quilt Block Resizer, find the row with your current quilt block size on the left of the chart, then look for the column with the size you want across the top of the chart.*
See where the column and row intersect. The percentage listed there is what you're scaling your block up or down to.
*if your quilt block is a rectangle do this for one side only, either the long or short side of the block. The other side will automatically get adjusted, too.
How to shrink a quilt block
Let's talk about shrinking an FPP quilt block first, because that's the easier way to go.
You can shrink a block directly on your printer, before you even print out the original size. Find the percentage you need on the resizing chart, then enter this number in the "custom scale" field in your computer's printer menu (that's the box that comes up when you hit "print" in a program).
On my computer, it looks like this:
Normally, you want this to be set to 100% to make sure your templates print at the size specified in the pattern, but when changing the size, this is where you enter your new percentage.
I've entered 50% here, which means I'm shrinking it down to half the size, and you can see how my preview on the right already adjusts it so I can see what I'm doing.
The reason I said shrinking is easier is that the smaller templates still fit on the page, regardless of how much you shrink them. Which means you can easily do it right in your printer menu and don't need to print out the original first.
Now press print at the bottom of the menu, and off you go!
Or almost. There's one small step left to do. The printer will have also shrunk the seam allowances, so you will need to redraw a 1/4" line by hand around all the templates before you cut anything out.
How to enlarge a quilt block
Enlarging quilt blocks may take an extra step or two, depending on how big the original templates are.
If the original size already fills the page, then enlarging it in the printer menu means it's only going to print part of the template. It won't automatically add another page and print the remainder there.
If you have a print preview window like I do, you can type in the percentage you need and see if the template still fits. Going from a 4" section to a 6" section will likely work, but going from an 8" one to a 12" one will not.
In that case, you will need to print the pattern at the original size and then use a photocopier to enlarge the templates.
There will be a spot in the photocopier's menu where you can change the percentage just like in the printer. Find your percentage on the resizing chart and enter it there.
Since we're doing it this way because the new template is larger than a sheet of paper (otherwise we could have done it on the printer), we'll have to copy one part of the template first, then the other, and tape the two sheets of paper together.
I usually cut out the template before photocopying and put a few guide marks on it. I draw a large crosshatch on the template and label a few of the intersections with numbers, letters or symbols so I know which one is which, then copy the template.
Once I have my enlarged photocopies, I use those crosshatch marks to match up the parts of the template.
And just like when shrinking it, the seam allowances will have changed size, too, so you will have to redraw a new 1/4" line around each template before cutting them out.
I hope this helps!
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