How to Make Your Own New York Beauty Templates!

Ever since I first started quilting I have always loved the look of the New York Beauty block but have been a little intimidated by the combination of paper piecing and curved piecing. Well I'm glad to say that I finally built up the courage and took the plunge.  Or started to. I got about halfway to the edge of the diving board before I realized I didn't quite know where to start.

This is the very first one I made. It's a little rough around the edges but I like it.

This project being somewhat impromptu, I didn't have a pattern to work from but since I had such an amazing resource at my fingertips I didn't worry. I decided to scour the internet to look for free tutorials or templates I could print off on my own. I eventually started to get frustrated when all the links to templates I found were broken. After about an hour I realized that it probably would have taken less time to design my own than it had to look through all of those broken links.

 So here goes: How to design your very own New York Beauty Templates/Paper Piecing Pattern

What you will need:

  • Several sheets of paper
  • A pencil (with a good eraser)
  • A fine tipped pen (I like the Pilot Precise V5 or Sharpies) 
  • A compass (If you don't have a compass you can also use a piece of string tied to a pencil.)
  • A clear ruler (with 1/4 inch markings)
  •  Scanner/printer (optional)
  • Good lighting!

Step 1: Using your pencil, draw a square. I chose a 6 inch square because my ruler was 6 inches wide and that was just easy but you can make it any size you want.

(Sorry for the somewhat terrible photo quality. They looked so much better on my camera)

Step 2: Using the compass, draw a few semi circles of varying radiuses. Within the arcs you will draw points to create the new york beauty effect.

Step 3: Line your ruler up so that it cuts the square in half diagonally. This will create a starting point for your measurements. Make small markings within the arcs within which you intend to add points.

Ah! nice lighting!

Step 4: Divide each pointy arc into equal segments. I decided to divide my large arc into 6 (roughly) equal segments. (If you want to make the standard New York Beauty effect proceed to step 7. I chose to make an arc of curved flying geese instead of the long spikes, but that's the fun thing about designing your own: you can make them however you want!)

Since half my arc measured roughly 4 1/4 inches, I made markings every 1 3/8 inch on the top of the arc. (Since the curvature of the arc adds distance the measurements weren't totally accurate but close enough that I wasn't concerned. Let's just say I have no ambitions of being an architects.) 

Step 5: After marking 6 equidistant points on the bottom of the arc in a similar fashion, connect the lines. 

Step 6: Mark the middle of each line and drew your flying geese.

Step 7: Once again, find the center of the arc of the top or bottom of the arc and divide it into equal sized lengths.On the bottom of the arc, find your half way measurement, and divide in half again until you have twice as many marks as the top of the arc.

 Step 8: Connect your top markings with every other bottom marking to create your equal sized triangles. 

Step 9: Go over all your lines in pen so they can either be traced onto another piece of paper or photocopied accurately.

Step 10: At this point you have a few options. You can:
  1.) Cut apart the arc your original template and tape your arcs to a new piece of paper.
 2.) Make a photo copy of your completed template and cut apart the arcs and tape them to a new piece of paper. 
 3.) Trace and space your completed template onto a new sheet of paper. (Reorient the new piece of paper each time to move to a different arc. I like this method even though its a bit more work. You don't lose line definition due to cutting or copying and later copies will be more clear.)

You should leave enough space between each piece to draw in a 1/4 inch seam allowance. 

For this picture I used the copy and cut method because I wanted to keep my original and I didn't realize that I would have to go over my outer lines again to make them visible on the scan. 

Step 11: Using your clear ruler, draw a 1/4 inch seam allowance around each piece of your template. The straight sides are easy. For the curved edges, slowly ease your ruler around the curve. I like to measure and mark at the edge of one of the "inch" lines (like the upside 6 in the picture) because I can tell when it is exactly (or almost exactly) perpendicular to my drawn line). I would draw my initial seam allowance in pencil then trace it in pen for better copying.

Line up your lines with the 1/4 inch mark on your ruler
Your completed templates should look something like this

Or this:

For this second design I used the tracing method.

And voile! You can now copy these templates to make as many as you want, although you only really need to copy the paper pieced arcs since the other pieces are reusable. So go and create some awesome original New York Beauty blocks.

Edit 3/30/14:

This post has been getting a lot of attention recently so I thought I would finally upload those templates that I designed! Since they were drawn by hand I can't guarantee that they will print out correctly. I've noticed that my printed cuts off the last inch so you may need to check your templates after printing. Hope you guys enjoy!

New York Beauty #1
New York Beauty #2
New York Beauty #3
New York Beauty #4

Edit 2: 7/7/2015

         I love to see that this post is still getting attention after over 2 years. That's crazy! Anyways I've been doing more paper piecing recently and have found that tracing paper is much more effective than regular paper when it comes to designing our blocks. Once you have the finished design you can trace the different parts separately onto the tracing paper and add in your seam allowance relatively painlessly. This eliminates the need to cut out the pattern. Perhaps you already knew this to be true but I felt I should jot it down so at least I don't forget and go about doing it the hard way again.

        Once you have the individual pieces traced out and the seam allowance has been added, the tracing paper can be copied just as easily. Watch out to fold or trim down the tracing paper so that it matches an 8.5x11 piece of printer paper if you want to copy it. You can then copy the arc onto paper piecing paper (or more tracing paper) which is significantly easier to stitch through and tear away.

        When it comes to cutting out the solid arcs or corners I find that freezer paper is the most useful. You can trace the pieces onto the back of the freezer paper and press them with you iron to your fabric. This technique allows for a very accurate cut. Once you can all your pieces cut out you can peal away the freezer paper to use it again or toss it.

        I may just have to write up a revised version as my methods appear to have changed quite a bit. Keep an eye out for it in the coming days!


  1. I am just painfully learning to make the New York Beauty block with a pattern & instructions from my SIL. The first one took 4 hours, & I felt totally deflated & defeated. Now I'm down to about 1 1/2 hours. Of course I'm hooked. Its my new challenge now that I have retired from work. Jinny Beyer has written a book about geometric block design. It means that you dont have to buy templates all the time, & can make your blocks any size that you like. Your tutorial has clarified some points for me, & encouraged me to keep going.
    Happy quilting!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I am so glad that you found my post useful! These blocks really are addictive. I still find them time consuming but the result is often mesmerizing. I would love to see your blocks someday.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Long Awaited Swoopy Geese Tutorial: Part 2! The One About Paper Piecing!

That's One Way To Do It: Hawaiian Applique Tutorial - Part Two: The Prep