We are frequently asked if a wall-hanging pattern can be enlarged for a bed quilt. Or, if a bed quilt pattern can be reduced to make a wall-hanging. Here are our thoughts and suggestions.
In general, we design quilt patterns to be a specific size. We fill the available space with motifs and elements that are proportioned to that size. For a large quilt we can fill the space with more flowers, leaves or whatever the design elements are to create a pleasing arrangement that is typically more intricate than a smaller design. It is generally best to choose a pattern that you like from the patterns available in that size range. We believe you will be happier with the outcome.
If you want to make a small quilt larger:
What will the LARGEST element in the design look like after it is enlarged? Will you like that look?
If there are four flower blossoms in the design to begin with, there will just be four blossoms after it is enlarged - they will just all be bigger. Is that the look you want?
What else could you do?
Use your chosen design as a center medallion and surround it with additional borders, either pieced or appliqued. Use the border from a bed-sized Hawaiian quilt pattern around a 36" or 42" wall-sized pattern. The photo of our Dragonflies in Flight at the beginning of this article was created by Cathy Wilson. She used the Dragonflies in Flight pattern and added borders and blocks to make it a bed quilt.
Make the wall-sized pattern you like four times to create a 4-patch quilt. Photocopy the cover photo 4 times and lay them together to see if you like that look.
If you want to make a large quilt smaller, consider these things:
What will the SMALLEST element in the design look like after it is reduced? Will you be able to needleturn the smallest elements successfully?
Our designs included 3/16 inch for a turn-under allowance. When you reduce the pattern it will naturally reduce the turn-under allowance. To keep the design elements in proportion you will need to reduce the amount you turn under when appliqueing. Can you do that? Or will you be OK with a 3/16 inch turn-under that is now proportionately larger than the pattern elements? (Of course, if you are going to fuse your applique, this is not an issue.)
If there are eight flower blossoms in the design to begin with, there will still be eight blossoms after it is reduced - they will just all be smaller. Is that the look you want? Will you lose detail that is important to the overall design?
What else could you do?
Use just the center medallion of a Hawaiian quilt pattern, omit the border or the corners as shown with the Plumeria Hawaiian Bed quilt pattern to the right and to the left.
Choose a smaller segment of the large pattern that captures what you like about it.
TIP: When cropping to get a smaller section of a design, you may need to eliminate partial elements that intrude into the smaller quilt. These smaller sizes would make great table runners, or placemats from a larger pattern.
Generally, we think you can reduce or enlarge a design (using a photocopier) by about 10% and be within a safe range. Of course, this depends upon the pattern and your taste. We do not recommend this. If you want to reduce or enlarge by more than 10%, or if even a 10% change does not work, then consider one of our suggestions, or come up with other ideas to reach your goal. Then tell us what you did, and send us pictures to share with others.