How to Easily Resize a Quilt Pattern

How to Easily Resize a Quilt Pattern


Of all the questions I receive, one of the most common is how to resize a quilt pattern. Most of the time, the question is how to make a quilt larger than the finished size of the pattern, rather than how to make it smaller. The same principles apply to either scenario however, so let's dive into the basics of quilt geometry.

Basics First

Decide what approximate size you want the finished quilt to be. Compare that to the finished size of the pattern. The difference is the amount you need to add or subtract to achieve your desired size.

Next, take a look at the general components of the quilt. Does it have square or irregular blocks? Does it have borders? Does it have more than one border? Does it have sashing? Does it have columns instead of blocks? Does it have large sectional units instead of traditional blocks?

Once you have identified the basic components of the quilt, take a look at the size of each of these components. The finished size of the quilt pattern shown above (Cobblestone Charm), is 53" X 61". The blocks are 8" square. The inner border is 2" wide and the outer border is 4.5" wide. These are the components you have to work with. 

Add or Subtract Components

Looking at the measurements of each component we identified above, add or subtract one, two, or all of the components to arrive at the approximate size you want the finished quilt to be. The first component to consider is block size. Adding or subtracting blocks is the most common way to change quilt size and its usually the easiest. Changes to the number of blocks in the quilt usually will not affect the overall appearance and balance of the borders or sashing. 

Since the blocks in this pattern are 8" square, you could add another block to each row, which would increase the width to 61" (53" + 8" = 61"). You could also add another row to the bottom, which would increase the length to 69" (61"+ 8" = 69"). You could keep adding (or subtracting) blocks from the rows to further change the width. You could keep adding (or subtracting) rows to change the length. 

The next component to consider are the borders. If you wanted to make this quilt smaller, you could leave off the inner or outer borders. You could even choose to leave off both borders. If you wanted to make the quilt larger, you could increase the width of one or both the borders. Just remember though, when making changes to the borders, you need to account for BOTH sides. For instance, when adding two inches to the width of the border, you would be increasing the quilt size by 4 inches.

Let's look at another example. The pattern shown below (Cascading Charms) is a column quilt. It doesn't have traditional blocks. Instead, the quilt is constructed with vertical columns. Each column is 4.5" wide. The sashing between the columns is 1.5". Each column consists of squares and rectangles sewn into a "block" measuring 4.5" X 15'5".

How to Resize a Quilt Pattern

To make this quilt wider, you would add columns and sashing until you reached your desired measurement. To make this quilt longer, you would have to add a 15.5" vertical "block" to each column or, if that was too long, you could add a wider border strip to the top and bottom. 

Be Realistic

Some quilts just don't lend themselves to being re-sized very easily, if at all. The quilt shown below (The Big Easy) is a good example of this. 

The Big Easy quilt pattern

The finished size of The Big Easy is 65" X 72". This pattern doesn't have traditional blocks. Instead, it is made up of three horizontal sections. Each section consists of two large sections each containing three horizontal rectangles and one vertical rectangle. Each of these large sections or "blocks" measures 20" X 27".  Adding just one more section to each row would increase the width of the quilt by 27". Adding a row to the bottom would increase the length by 20". You could more easily make smaller changes to this pattern, such as changing border or sashing width, but the basic construction of this pattern does not lend itself to being resized easily, unless you are wanting to make a king size quilt.

In Summary

Here is a list of the basic steps in resizing a quilt pattern:

Calculate the difference between your desired finished size and that of the pattern.

Find the measurement of each component in the pattern. 

See if you can reach your desired finished size (approximately) by making any or all of the following changes:

  • Adding or subtracting blocks within each row
  • Adding or subtracting rows
  • Adding or subtracting borders
  • Adding or eliminating sashing
  • Increasing or decreasing border width
  • Increasing or decreasing sashing width.
  • Removing all borders
  • Adding borders to a borderless quilt

With a little thought and creativity, most patterns can be altered pretty easily. I hope you have found this information helpful!

Until next time, happy sewing!

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