Drafting, Part 1: Changing the Size of Pieced Quilt Blocks

If you have ever wanted to make a pieced quilt block in a different size than those that you are able to find in books or magazines, I think you will find this easy, step-by-step tutorial helpful. I suspect that there are still some of you out there who are not using computer software to design quilts. I’m a traditionalist who still enjoys designing with paper and pencil–the process is simple and can certainly open doors to many design possibilities.

Notice how well used Jinny Beyer's book is. It is a great reference with blocks organized by grid categories.

Notice how well used Jinny Beyer’s book is. It is a great reference with blocks organized by grid categories.

Since I will be teaching drafting in my Craftsy class in March, I wanted to expand on the lesson here and share another block.

Here are the tools you will need:

  • 8- squares-to-the inch graph paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Drafting ruler (thinner than the rulers we use for cutting fabric)
  • Optional, depending on design: compass, protractor, Flex-Curve, fine-line permanent pens in a variety of colors

To begin, you will need to select a pieced quilt block pattern–mine is the Farmer’s Daughter block.

Notice that this pattern has five equal divisions, both horizontally and vertically.

Notice that this pattern has five equal divisions, both horizontally and vertically.

Pieced block patterns generally fall into one of the following grid categories. It is important to determine which category your chosen block falls into in order to draft it in another size.

Outline drawing of some of the most common grid categories.

Outline drawing of some of the most common grid categories.

I’ve decided to draft a 8-3/4″ finished Farmer’s Daughter block. From the diagram above, I can see that it falls into the Five-Patch Grid Category.

Step One: Mark an 8-3/4″ square onto the piece of graph paper. (Note: only finished sizes are used when drafting. Seam allowances are added later, when determining the cut sizes of the shapes.)

This is the finished outline of the block.

This is the finished outline of the block.

Step Two:  Mark the grid framework in order to fill in the shapes. In this case, the grid will be 5 squares across x 5 squares down. If your finished block size is not easily divisible by the grid size, here’s an easy way to mark the grid. First, make a note of the next number higher than the block size (in this case 8-3/4″) that is evenly divisible by the grid size. For my example here, the answer is 10.

Step Three: Place your drafting ruler, exactly as shown in the photo, holding the corner in the lower left-hand corner of the drafted square while swinging the ruler up on the right side until the 10″ marking touches the right-hand edge of the marked square.

Position your ruler exactly as shown. Then make small marks every 2" along the length of the ruler - 2", 4", 6" 8".

Position your ruler exactly as shown. Then make small marks every 2″ along the length of the ruler – 2″, 4″, 6″ 8″.

Mark lines onto the graph paper every 2″ along the length of the ruler:  2″, 4″, 6″ and 8″. Marks are made every 2″ since 10 divided be 5 = 2. These marks indicate where the grid lines will be drawn. In this case, every 1-3/4″.

Fill in the 5 x 5 grid onto the graph paper, as shown.

Fill in the 5 x 5 grid onto the graph paper, as shown.

Step Four:  The rest is easy. Fill in the shapes within the framework of the block. Refer to the diagram above to see the direction of the lines.

It is helpful to label the shapes with numbers to indicate cut sizes and letters to indicate fabric changes.

It is helpful to label the shapes with numbers to indicate cut sizes and letters to indicate fabric changes.

Step Five:  Determine the cutting chart for the block. Remember that the shapes you see on the drafted pattern are “finished sizes” and so you need to add the 1/4″ seam allowance around each shape in order to determine the cutting sizes. I like to include a cutting chart on my pattern for easy reference when cutting fabric for my block.

I hope this is helpful to you. I’d love to hear if any of you try this block-drafting method. Please check back in my Friday post for Part 2 where I’ll include some of the new blocks I am making for my Craftsy sampler quilt.

Many thanks to our readers who responded so enthusiastically to my Julie Silber post. The lucky winner of The Quilt Digest, Volume 1, donated by Julie, is Nancy Chrzanowski.

Happy designing everyone!

L1-Signature

About these ads
This entry was posted in Blocks, Tutorials and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Drafting, Part 1: Changing the Size of Pieced Quilt Blocks

  1. Dot says:

    If you’re drafting a 5-patch block, use 5- or 10-to-the-inch graph paper. It won’t make the job easier for your example’s unusual 8 3/4″ block size, but if you’re making a block that’s an even number of inches, such as 9″, it works out perfectly. A 9″ block on 5-to-the-inch paper will have 45 squares. The 5-patch grid lines will be exactly 9 squares apart. For a 9 1/2″ block you can use 10-to-the-inch paper and get a square-count that’s divisible by 5. These grids are available as free printable downloads on several web sites. Mine came from an art supply store.

  2. elaine says:

    Laura, you make everything look too easy!

  3. Jan says:

    That was SO helpful, Laura! I snatched up my graft paper and gave it a try and, it was simple! Thanks for the info!

  4. Michele says:

    I’m not drafting at the moment, but I intend to save and use this method. I struggled with the design for a 4 block square that will then add corner triangles, sashing and borders on point, then will finish with corner triangles to end as a square. I had a picture, but not measurements. I never thought about using a method like this! Thanks SEW much!

  5. lcarolyn says:

    Great post…thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s