Monday Mistakes – 94% Scaled Paper Piecing

Published Categorized as Musings, Quilting 12 Comments on Monday Mistakes – 9412 Scaled Paper Piecing

In this semi-weekly series called Mistake Monday I talk about a cultural taboo: making mistakes. I make mistakes, constantly and aside from mentions of seam ripping I don’t see enough posts online about how people fix these mistakes with passable solutions or how they emotionally moved passed the mistake, let’s break that taboo.

Beautiful Broken Feather Arrows

I needed 8 total for this quilt border, I already had one arrow done while testing the pattern so since I loved it I chain pieced 7 more. There are 4 pieces to this arrow block having a total of 36 seams and pieces that are just tiny and difficult.

So many pieces - broken feather arrow paper piece

When I did the math on how long I spent on these arrows it came out to be 10 hours. About 6 hours Friday plus about 4 hours today. I put them around the lone star and stepped back to admire.

Bottom right arrow is larger than the others
Bottom right arrow is larger than the others

There was a mistake.

This was not a small mistake. One of the arrows was bigger than the others. Not just taller or wider, it was a completely different scale, see how it doesn’t align with the star points the same?

Arrow points match up differently
Arrow points match up differently

Scale? Like I made the 7 at the wrong scale?

Print Dialog Scale

There’s a bunch of curse words for this exact situation. Even after a bit of wine and some light crying I was angry. I won’t lie I’m really, really mad at myself right now.

I almost decided to make just one more of the 94% scale and call it done but my dear boyfriend talked me down off the ledge.

It's easier to see the scale issue here...sad face.
It’s easier to see the scale issue here…sad face.

I planned and designed these blocks with my own two hands, I sketched and did math and measured during the design phase to make sure the arrow was the right proportion to the star. To details like the back end of the tip of the arrow having a beautiful extra curve and that the point lines up with the 8 points of the lone star.

Arrows with border
Arrows with border (big arrow at bottom)

The right thing to do is to make 7 more arrows with the right scale. I can’t even stand to look at this quilt right now though so I’m packing it away for a few weeks with printouts of the paper piecing pattern I need to use and instructions on what I had planned for the rest of the borders.

Packing away the quilt temporarily
Packing away the quilt temporarily

It will be sealed off & to not be spoken of; no really, I’m SO mad at myself. Sometimes the right decision for a creative project can be hard. Taking the shortcut wasn’t going to be worth it in the final product.

packed away with a note
packed away with a note

I will learn from this mistake, when they say “Make sure your printer has actual size checked and that it’s not scaled” and “Check the 1″ block on the printout!”


  1. If you were perfect you would be boring….and less smart as we learn from our mistakes. The block is beautiful….don’t put away for too long. It will continue to haunt you. Bite the bullet, forgive yourself, redo the 7 (in the grand scheme, 10 hours is but a moment) .

  2. Instead of re-doing the whole lot, is keeping the fletcher part and just redoing the arrow head and shaft a possibility? Or even just the shaft by adjusting how long it is to fit? That way you wouldn’t have to spend so much time fiddling with the itty bitty seams!

  3. I can understand and sympathize with your frustration!
    You’ve obviously considered your design elements well. But might I suggest that you consider another option? Imagine a line continuing at the angle of your star points, and align the points of your 94% arrows with these imaginary lines. This will move the arrows toward the corners of the quilt. Then you can use larger patches of the background print in the centers of the arrow border to fill in. This way you’ll only have to make one more arrow and they will all still visually relate to the star. Maybe even more so than straight vertical & horizontal. Good luck and thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Man, I hate it when something like that happens. Even when my printer says it’s set to 100% and not scaled, I’m always worried that it’s not going to print correctly. That’s why I love it when a pattern includes a 1-inch square to double check. I just wish all paper-piecing patterns included that little square.

  5. Oh, I am so sorry to hear that this happened! I struggle with paper piecing, too. I forget that I need to pre-cut my prints reverse side up and then chop up all my fabric only to realize it won’t work out… and I have definitely had to banish projects from my sight while I get over being upset with myself. Hang in there, this is going to be stunning when you work out exactly how you want to proceed.

  6. Sharing mistakes is good for sure. I shared some yesterday as well and due to comments I was able to work it out 🙂

  7. I have done that exact thing~not printing at 100%! I guess it fine if all are the same scale…but dang I feel for you!

  8. Why remake 7 arrows? Take the one arrow that’s longer and fold it in the middle-ish, making sure that only the shaft is affected. Sew a small seam to make the overall arrow the same length as the others. Yes, the fletchings and arrow head of that one arrow will be 6% bigger. Pfft. 6% is nothing. No one will notice.

    Maybe you’re saying, “But I’ll notice! It will bother me!” Use this as an opportunity to grow in your ability to embrace imperfection and enjoy the little differences in life. That’s your maverick arrow, your “Plus Size” arrow in a sea of annoying Size 6 arrows, your “I won’t let the Perfect get in the way of the Done” arrow.

    I’ve had a number of errors in quilts. Often, the fix to an error makes for a more interesting quilt. “Oh, I forgot this was a directional fabric so I don’t have enough! How about I rotate it and add a checkerboard border? Nice!”

  9. I know you are set on making them all the right size but what about making just one in the size of the others and adjusting to make them fit. If I put things like that away I have a tendency to never get them back out and finish them. Best of luck in what ever you decide. It will be beautiful when finished.

  10. If it makes you feel any better I did the math for half my farmer’s wife blocks and then used templates for the other half. The templates where not to scale. You’re not the only one who has made this mistake. It’s one I will never make again!

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