Thursday, June 25, 2015

Scaling snowflakes

After my attempt at a blue drunkard’s path and snowflake quilt fell flat at the end of March, I planned to give up on that idea and use the drunkard’s path units on their own.  However, readers gave me a lot of positive comments about the original idea’s potential so I packed up all the parts together, just in case I wanted to try again.

The idea kept pulling at me so this week I gave in and played with it again.


I’m still not happy with the color distribution in the drunkard’s path blocks. Things seem washed out to me.  I think I need more mediums and fewer lights. 

However, I think I have the snowflake part sorted out!  The scale was all wrong before.  Also, despite the science geek in me wanting every snowflake to be different, as real snowflakes are, the quilt needs repetition.

I knew the scale was all wrong back in March, but I resisted the idea because my snowflake block patterns were all for 9” blocks.  If you have seen these patterns, you know the paper foundations have drawn seam allowances, shaped to specific angles at the points to help match sections.  That would be lost if I just enlarged the paper foundations on a copier or printer, as the seam allowance would be enlarged too instead of being the standard 1/4”.  I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to figure things out all over again to redraw trimmed seam allowances for a larger block.

This week my high school math came to the rescue.  Do you remember similar triangles from geometry?  Don’t worry, it will work for you even if you don’t remember the details.  The key part is that when I enlarged the foundations, the lengths of the sides all changed by the same proportion, but the angles stayed the same.


I used my rotary cutting ruler to trim the seam allowances around each paper pieced section to a proper 1/4” and used my paper foundations from the 9” block to trim the points.  Easy peasy!

So, if you have my snowflake block patterns and wish you could make them a different size, you can!  Just photocopy the foundations from the 9” pattern, with scaling set to whatever you need to obtain the size you want.  For example, scaling by 133% will give you foundations for a 12” block.  Scaling by 67% would yield foundations for a 6” block. (A 6” block would be cute, but would have awfully small pieces.  Just saying!)

You can trim the foundations to have the correct seam allowance and shaped points before you start sewing, or you can wait until after you have pieced the sections.  I went ahead and pieced first, then trimmed.



I lined up the 1/4” mark on my ruler along the printed solid line that represents the finished side of the section, then I trimmed away the extra and repeated on each side, leaving a 1/4” seam allowance all around this section.


Next I placed the template from the 9” block over the corresponding section for my enlarged block, matching the orientation, and sliding the smaller template until its point was even with the larger version’s point.  I used the trimmed point of the smaller template as my guide to trim the point of the enlarged section.

I did this for all the points on all the sections, and then just assembled the snowflake according to pattern instructions. Everything lined up perfectly.


I’m so happy I figured out how to scale this pattern!  Now I can stop asking myself why in the world I designed the original as a 9” block in the first place. Though it took on a life of its own,  I started the snowflake design adventure specifically for this quilt idea and 9” doesn’t figure in it anywhere!  So where did the 9” come from?  OK, I guess I’m not done asking.  The answer just doesn’t matter as much anymore.

Now I need to go pull fabrics from my blue bin to see if I can fine tune the drunkard’s path part of the quilt.


  1. The bigger snowflakes look great in the quilt. What a difference they make.

  2. I do like the newer version of your snowflake quilt design. The layout works well. I think either way with the snowflakes works too; each one being different or making them all the same. Good luck with your decision. I am sure it will be just perfect. It will be another wonderful quilt made and designed by you!

  3. I love your snowflakes and drunkard path blocks! The blues just sparkle and the design is great. I'm glad you didn't leave these blocks in a box.

  4. I really like it with the bigger snowflakes. Glad you were able to make it work. But also like the way you have it laid out in the picture.

  5. If I hadn't seen the second version I wouldn't have appreciated why you have been unhappy with the March version. I'm having the same issue with a quilt I've been working on - the border design I've been making is completely out of scale with the main part of the quilt and needs a complete rethink. Your quilt is looking good and you are a talented quilter so I know that you will figure it all out.

  6. I took geometry too, but it left my brain a long, long time ago! I do still remember angle degrees, etc., as well as copy enlargements but what you have done just amazes me. I love it, even though it tired my brain to follow it all. It's going to be beautiful. ---"Love"

  7. Just sayin'... SO glad you're a math geek. I love math, but geometry? Not so much...glad this will work in 12" blocks though. Might have to give it a try this winter; I never did keep a pillow for myself. As for the quilt layout, it looks good to me, very good!

  8. Okay, just looked again, as to why don't you like it...and you know what? What if you rounded the edges of the snowflake blocks? They seem to be to angular for the rest of the quilt. Just a thought.

  9. I know you're still tweaking but I love this!!

  10. Thanks for pointing me to this, Joanne! I do love the concept and this gives me strength to forge ahead with a block for my guild's swap this month! Would love to see blocks made by others!


Thank you for visiting. I truly appreciate your comments and will try to reply to comments by email if your commenting staus is not set to "no-reply".

If you have a question, emailing me directly at will ensure I have your address to respond. I promise I will not share your email address and I will not use it for any purpose other than replying to your message.