The Big Picture

May 23, 2011

 Thanks for the positive response to my method for creating a Celtic quilting design. If my ideas inspire you to create a design of your own, please send me pictures. One of the comments mentioned using green thread. Actually – I did, the picture just didn’t show it. Here’s a new one:

And a view of the entire quilt (please ignore the binding clips :-):

Now for something completely different :-). This week’s topic concerns making pictures or patterns larger and then printing them easily. I often need to do this. For example, when recreating a picture in appliqué using my Repliqué technique, an enlargement of a photograph is needed to make the pattern. Another instance where this is necessary is when I draft Mariner’s Compass patterns using my paper folding techniques. Sometimes I draft them the size of a sheet of paper and then need to make them bigger (for descriptions of both of these techniques, scroll down to the Architectural Repliqué and Mariner’s Compass Simplified descriptions on my website at http://www.chrisquilts.net/lectures_and_workshops.htm). You can probably think of instances in your quilt life when this would be helpful too.

In the past I’ve enlarged pictures at my local print shop; and I’ve made patterns bigger with the help of an overhead projector. Since the enlargements cost money and the overhead has to be used while I’m at work, neither is a particularly convenient option.

A while back I read an article in The Quilt Life magazine which recommended doing these enlargements using Microsoft Excel, along with a home computer and printer. It really works, so I just have to share! Here’s the step by steps:

1.  Open Microsoft Excel

2.  In the File Menu select Page Set Up; select Margins; set footer and header to “O” and set the margins to .5 on all 4 sides; select “OK

3.  In the View Menu select Zoom; change the magnification to 25%; select “OK

4.  In the Insert Menu select Picture; select From File and then find the drawing or picture you want to enlarge from your computer, click on it and then select Insert

5.  Your picture/drawing will now be in the upper left corner of the Excel document. Click on it and then place your cursor on the bottom right corner square; click and drag your picture/drawing to the desired size. Each rectangle in the Excel program represents an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper and when you press “print” it does …… and all the sheets fit together!

If you’re printing a photo onto printer fabric, the margins we left will provide enough space around each portion for seam allowance.

If you’re printing a drawing or pattern, the margins can be overlapped when the parts are taped together.

I hope this is helpful. If it seemed a bit confusing, open Excel and give it a whirl. You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is!


  1. Again you inspire me Chris. I was just wondering this morning how I was going to enlarge a design and voila! here you are with the instructions. Thank you!!

    • I’m happy to share something that’s worked well for me. Enjoy :-)!

  2. Wow, this sounds like a great idea. I can’t wait to try it!

  3. This is super – and yes, it worked like a charm. Only question I have – is there a way to control the exact size of the enlargement? This is neat.


    • I haven’t been able to control it exactly, but you can get close if you remember that each segment horizontally will finish 7 1/2″ (margins leave 1/2″ on each side) and each vertical segment will finish 10″. Another good tip is to only drag the picture/drawing by the lower right “handle” so the proportions are not distorted as it is enlarged.

  4. Chris! Amazing! I tried it and it worked very easily! And I don’t even know how to use Excel! Thank you so much for sharing all that you share with us. I feel like I’ve taken a class every time I read your blog!

  5. Wow. You made making pictures larger simple. Can’t wait to try it.

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