Enlarging Book Patterns – 3 Methods


Do you often see craft books where the patterns are printed right inside the pages, including a little note in the corner saying “Enlarge by xxx%”? A decent portion of my craft books have the patterns printed as such, and I often get asked how to handle this situation. I know when I’ve written my books, I wanted to include patterns that were big and detailed – but unfortunately when sewing patterns get so large it’s difficult to include them in a printed book without shrinking them down first. I thought I would let you all know the methods I use to enlarge patterns so you won’t be confused by those little directions anymore, and you’ll be sure to find a method that works best for you!

Method 1 – Copy Shop
Supplies: A local copy center
Difficulty: Easy
This is the most obvious solution, as it involves going to your favorite print shop and having them do the work for you. Here in the US, I’ve had the most luck with Staples and Office Max. Most big chains are more than happy to take care of quick one-off copies such as these. But here are a few tips to remember so you get the most out of your visit:

Don’t let them tell you that you can’t make copies. If the print station clerk gives you a hard time about making copies from a book (because of copyright and all that), keep in mind that most craft books have a blurb in the front of the book (within the first few pages, usually alongside the publishing information) that specifically states you’re allowed to make copies of the patterns only for personal crafting purposes. So be sure to point that out to provide proof that making copies is okay.
Ask for an “Engineering print.” Many big chain print shops offer cheaper rates on copies of this nature – you don’t need high-quality paper, colors, or a lot of ink. If you specify you need 20 lb. paper, black & white, and low ink coverage, your rates will be much lower than a typical print. Most big chains call these “Engineering prints” and you can usually get a full sheet of patterns for $2-7! Not bad!

Method 2 – Self-service Copying
Supplies: Access to a copier
Difficulty: Kind of easy
Cost: About $1
The next easiest option is self-service copying. This is ideal if your book patterns are a collection of very tiny shapes. You can take advantage of the low prices at your local copy shop, a random copier at your school or library, or even a scanner/copier you might have at home. You’ll using the enlarging feature on the copier, then scanning in one portion of the page at a time until you’ve enlarged all the pieces.

1. Set up your printer with the largest paper available. We can probably assume that you’ll be working with standard 8 1/2” x 11”, and that’s fine! But some print shops might have one or two copiers that can print on 11” x 17” pages. Jump at the chance if you can, since the cost usually isn’t much higher, and it will make the process a lot easier.

2. Dial in the enlargement settings. Check your book notes to see what percentage you need to enlarge your patterns at. Dial in that number into your copier. Unfortunately every copier is different so I can’t help you much there, but the panel on the side will likely mention the setting somewhere in there. Googling the specs on your specific copier is a good way to go if there aren’t print shop clerks there to help you.

3. Estimate your copy sections. From your pattern page, generally mark off the sections that you plan to copy – either by drawing on the book or by using some sticky notes as I’ve done. If you’re using 8 1/2” x 11” sheets: for every 100% that you have to enlarge, evenly split the page into twice as many sections. For instance, if you have to enlarge by 200%, mark 4 equal sections on the page. These are the portions we’re going to focus on copying – when they enlarge they should hopefully cover an 8 1/2” x 11” sheet without spilling over the edge. If you’re using 11” x 17” sheets, you can use 1/2 as many sections.

4. Copy the sections. Take your estimated sections to the machine and try to center them on the copy area. Have the machine copy the page and it should hopefully enlarge that section of your patterns. You can them move onto another section until you have all the pieces done!

Method 3 – Microsoft Paint + Paper Grid
Supplies: Scanner, Computer, Microsoft Paint
Difficulty: A little more intensive
Cost: A few cents for paper
The next cheapest option is scanning and enlarging the patterns yourself on your home scanner. Most printers today come with a scanner, so hopefully you might be lucky enough to have this. Along with Microsoft Paint, which pretty much everyone has, you’re in business! This option is perfect if you’re working with pattern pieces that need to be enlarged but they’re too big to do the self-service copying method. Our project here will result in several printer sheets that we’re going to tape up to form a grid that will make our sewing pattern!

1. Scan your pattern page. Scan your patterns with your scanner at full-size and make sure to get all the outlines in the image. It doesn’t matter if things are crooked, just so long as you get all the pattern lines. Save your image as a .jpg or other similar file that can be opened in Microsoft Paint easily.

2. Edit your photo in Microsoft Paint. Open your photo in Microsoft Paint and click on the resize tool. For the percentage, enter in the number listed on your pattern page. This should resize your image to what’s needed for your finished pattern. The pixels will get a little blurry, but it’s to be expected.

3. Set up the print page. Go to “Page Setup” to make sure your page prints at the new scale you’ve sized. Under the “Scaling” option, click on “Fit to” instead of “Adjust to.” This should change it to the page layout it needs without resizing your image. I also like to click on Horizontal and Vertical centering to make the page taping easier later. The number should likely read higher than 1 x 1 pages – if not, you might want to click on “Adjust to” then back to “Fit to” to sort of ‘reset’ the setting; that usually works for me. Note that mine says 3 x 3 pages (9 pages total) to increase 1 page of patterns by 250% — sounds about right!

4. Print the pattern. Once your setup is looking good, print your pages! Make sure all of your other print dialog boxes state that the pattern will be printed at the full 100% scale so you know it’s not going to turn up smaller or larger than you need it.

5. Tape the sheets. When all of your pattern sheets are printed, begin assembling them in a grid by lining up the edges and taping them in place. Note that you’ll have to overlap the margins you set in the page setup back in step 3. I actually have a whole tutorial about doing this, so that might help you more! You’ll probably want to refer back to your original pattern page, as this part is a little bit like a puzzle. I like to tape all my sheets into rows first, then tape all the rows together. When you finish, you can cut your pattern pieces from here, or copy them onto tracing paper if you want something easier to store.

9 thoughts on “Enlarging Book Patterns – 3 Methods”

  1. Here’s my method:
    My scanner actually allows me to save the image as a PDF. Then when I go to print, I change Custom Scale to whatever %, then choose Poster. This prints out everything in as many pages as needed without needing to edit anything in paint.
    Hope that helps someone.

    1. Wow, what a great feature! I wish my printer was that cool x3 Thanks so much for sharing your tips!
      I personally use Photoshop 😀 but I realize not everyone has that XD;;;

  2. Just wanted to say that I just got the Sew Kawaii book today and was trying to figure out how to enlarge the patterns when I found your guide! Thanks!

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