Monday, October 8, 2012

Does size matter?

BLOCK size, that is! (tee hee)  Adolescent humor aside, I have been considering block sizes in my patterns lately.  Though all my patterns include a scaling chart to allow copying the pattern in a range of sizes, my usual full-scale ready-to-print-and-go size is 6 inches finished (6-1/2" with seam allowances).  There are some exceptions, of course, but generally I choose a 6 inch size because it's easy to draft and easy to fit on standard 8-1/2 x 11" or A4 paper sizes.  For digital PDF patterns, other paper formats just aren't feasible, since most home printers (mine included) can't manage larger paper sizes.  And personally, I enjoy sewing smaller blocks since I usually make smaller projects like wall-hangings.  So my 6" standard seemed reasonable.

Recently a quilt magazine asked me to submit a block. They asked for a sewn 12" sample block with corresponding 12" foundation pattern.  I knew exactly the design I would send in, since I'd been working on the idea for awhile.  But I'd drawn the pattern to my usual 6".  To sew the block, there were 2 choices:  I could enlarge the 6" pattern on a copy machine like my customers do, or I could enlarge it to 12" in my drawing software.  Since I had to send the printed foundation with my sewn block, though, it only made sense to redraft it as a 12" block. 

Fortunately, even for the 12" block, most sections of this design were small enough to fit on a standard page.  But one section spanned the full 12" width.  I had to split the section into two pieces to fit on the page and attach the two sections together before starting to sew. I used a Pritt permanent adhesive roller which held up to pressing beautifully, unlike many tapes which shouldn't be ironed over.  The process was a bit fiddly, but not too bad.

This little episode has caused me to ponder what size most quilters actually prefer their block patterns - is the 12" block still the gold-standard?  Would it be more convenient for my customers if the ready-to-print size of my designs was 12" instead of 6"? What about single-section designs (e.g. Birdie Bird and Yin & Yang) -- at 12", these would have to be broken down into four sections to fit onto standard printer paper -- would quilters find it a real nuisance to cut and glue those sections together?

I would love to hear from you on this topic! What block size(s) do YOU generally work with? Take the poll at the top right side of this page!

By the way, I sent off the finished block to the magazine and am waiting to hear back from them with fingers crossed!  Can't tell you yet what the design is (hint, it's NOT the one pictured above, which is still a work-in-progress), but it turned out really cute and would be perfect for winter projects and kids' quilts!


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