Four Tips for Resizing a Quilt



We’ve all been there. We have a quilt in mind that we want to make but waffle on doing it because it’s just a little bit too small. So, we can do one of two things. We can make it the same size as the directions, or we can begin looking for ways to make it larger. One of these four solutions will help you decide.


Photo: Amanda Brown

The simplest idea is to add borders. This method works best if you only want to increase the size by a small amount. Borders need to be proportionate to the rest of the quilt. You wouldn’t want to add a 12” border on each side, for instance, because it would look like you only did that to increase the size. Some quilt designers feel that borders look best when they are half the width of the largest block. If your quilt blocks were 12” finished, 6” borders would seem appropriate.


Add sashing or an inner border helps. If the quilt pattern already has a border included, sashing can add a few more inches to the size. It can act as a transition between the quilt top and the border if you coordinate fabric colors from the quilt blocks and borders. If you’re adding a border to a quilt top, adding a sashing or inner border keeps the border from being too large. Add together the size of the sashing and the border plus the size of the quilt top to give you the finished size of the quilt.


Photo: Amanda Brown

Another option is to make more blocks. This works best if the quilt top is made up of larger blocks. Nine to twelve inch blocks seem to work best because you don’t need to make too many more. Look at the finished size of the quilt top and determine how much larger adding a row of blocks to the side and bottom will increase the size.  If it’s not quite big enough, you can add borders. Two things to consider, though. Do you have enough fabric to make more blocks? If it’s a scrappy quilt, it will be easier. But if you used a specific fabric, make sure you can get more (It’ll take some quilter’s math to determine how much you’ll need.) The other thing to consider is how will the these added blocks make the quilt top look, especially if the blocks throw off additional designs within the top.


Try adding plain blocks. Adding non-pieced blocks between pieced blocks is another way to increase the size without having to piece more blocks. Before you do this, sketch it out on paper to make sure the quilt top will still look acceptable when it’s completed. You can use the same fabric as the border or another fabric that coordinates with the border and the pieced blocks. A bonus is that the plain blocks will give you an opportunity to try some interesting machine quilting designs in them.


Photo: Amanda Brown

Here are a few things to think about as you begin to consider resizing a pattern.

  • What will the finished size be after you have the top completed. Does it meet your needs? Measure your mattress, including the drop down, to make sure the quilt will fit.
  • What size batting will you need? Look at the website for the batting you’ll be using to see what sizes batting comes in. Ask your machine quilter for advice, too. You can’t have a quilt that is larger than the batting sizes that are available.
  • If a quilt pattern doesn’t come with additional sizes, don’t ask the quilt designer to help you resize it.
  • Use this trick, called the golden ratio, that many designers use to size borders. In the simplest form, each border should be 1.6 times larger than the previous one. If one border is 2”, the next is 3.25″ (rounding number to the nearest 1⁄4” as needed).
  • Decide how big is too big. You want to be able to use the quilt without having to struggle with it. Plus, you need to know how much your washer and dryer can handle or else you’ll be going to the laundromat more than you want.
  • Before you begin, make sure that you have enough extra fabric for borders, binding, and backing, as well as any quilt blocks you’ll need to make. If not, take a trip to your favorite quilt store to find more.


Armed with this knowledge, what are you going to do? Will you be satisfied with the quilt as the pattern indicates? Or are you ready to take on the challenge of resizing it. Either way, you’ll end up with the quilt of your dreams!