There are times when it is necessary to photocopy patterns from a magazine, particularly when paper piecing is involved.  Our Block-of-the-Month Sampler has two blocks made with paper piecing,  “Log Cabin Plus” and “Tricolor Hexagon”. Because these two blocks are blended with pieced blocks, it is critical that the measurements be accurate! There are a couple of ways to make sure that your photocopies turn out perfectly.

The first, and most obvious, is to make certain that your original is flat and entirely within the copy field. If you’re photocopying from a book or magazine, it is very easy to add an accidental distortion, especially when you’re close to the spine and the original is slightly curved. Avoid this by either cutting a page out of the magazine or breaking the spine so that your original lies entirely flat.

That missing edge makes it hard to tell if the whole piece is accurate or not.
That missing edge makes it hard to tell if the whole piece is accurate or not.

To make certain that the scale is correct after copying, many patterns will include a 1″ measure. Make sure you check this after your first test copy to see if it is truly at 1″. If a scale is not included, I like to make my own DIY version, and add a flat ruler to bed of the copy.

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A thin, flat, small ruler is easiest.
After photocopying, I can check for exactness with the original ruler.
After photocopying, I can check for exactness with the original ruler.

If your pattern calls for enlarging “33%”, or something like that, enlarge from the original only, and never from a copy of the original. Each copy of a copy is going to lose some if its overall integrity, so it is best to use the original source material. To illustrate this, I’ve copied a copy of a copy of the original (that’s four steps removed from the original):

You can see the lines are starting to fuzz around the edges, and the lines are beginning to have wavers in them.
You can see the lines are starting to fuzz around the edges, and the lines are beginning to have wavers in them.

But the biggest issue with copying copies over and over is that each step away from the original will change size. If you’re looking to be perfectly accurate, this is a critical aspect.

I've lined up my original copy with the fourth copy on top of it. I lined up the right edge. But, wait for it...
I’ve lined up my original copy with the fourth copy on top of it. I lined up the right edge. But, wait for it…
...The left edge is significantly smaller than the first copy.
…The left edge is significantly smaller than the first copy.

If you are working on a patter that uses a single block, your copies from a single source will be fine because they will be consistently the same size. In the case of the Block-of-the-Month, these blocks must fit in with a variety of others and these tips will help you out.  Happy quilting!

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