What is fussy cutting patchwork and how to use it in Foundation Paper Piecing, English Paper Piecing, or quilting in general?
I have been quilting for a long time, and I remember the days when I was cutting fabric for a quilt and was giddy with joy when the pattern of the fabric ended up centered in the shape I was cutting.
Little did I know back then, that this was actually ‘a thing’.
It’s not only a thing, it also has a name……..
It’s called FUSSY CUTTING.
I have to confess till then, I was still trying to use up as little fabric as possible and it didn’t even occur to me, that someone would deliberatly just cut an image out of a piece of fabric.
A whole new world opened up to me.Fussy cutting is when you cut your fabric to showcase a specific area of a print rather then cutting random pieces.
There are different reasons for fussy cutting depending on your project or quilting technique.
You use fussy cutting to:
1. Feature a particular part of a print
2. Use a specific part of a print in your quilt pattern to enhance the pattern.
These reasons also determine the techniques and tools you use.
So lets start with featuring a particular part of a print:
1. This method is usually used with English paper piecing, but also with squares, triangles or other geometrical shapes.
You can use acrylic templates to cut your shapes or make your own templates out of cardboard.
The advantage of acrylic templates is, they’re easy, reusable, see through and include a 1/4″ seam allowance.
If you make your own template, which is absolutly fine, draw your shape on cardbord and add 1/4″ seam allowance, cut out the desired shape and you’re left with the seam allowance ‘frame’ , which you then use to cut your fabric along the outside line.
Either way, place your template on your particular part of your print and cut along the outside lines with your rotary cutter or fabric scissors. I prefer a rotary cutter, so the fabric can stay put on my cutting mat and I don’t move the template by accident.
Make sure you don’t forget the seam allowance, trust me it happened to me more than once, that I cut a cute image only to notice afterwards that I had fogotten the seam allowance.
Let’s start with the easier part placing a particular part of a print on your foundation paper piecing segment.
This can be done to give an eye more life by using a dotted fabric, or by adding some print detail to an otherwise simpler background, as I did with the seals in the orca pattern.
This is fairly simple if the part of the segment that you wish to place the print on is part 1,
as shown in the photos below.
I always use a fabric glue pen, it just makes your life so much easier.
The dolphin and the orca pattern are featured in my new book. Which can be pre ordered here.
Here I chose the pirates for part B1. I use a fabric glue pen, and glue the segment onto the fabric (glue only B1).
If you’re planning on doing this a lot, a light box comes in very handy, but for starters just hold your segment and fabric against a light or your window.
2. Cut out, with aprox 1/4″ seam allowance, around the perimeter of B1. You can use a ruler to do this and a rotary cutter, I usually just use fabric scissors and eye ball it.
(I trim the seam allowance after sewing part 2 and 3.)
Then sew part 2 and 3 with your chosen fabric for those parts.
4. Now place the segment part B4 (wrong side of paper on wrong side of fabric) over your fabric folding back the seam allowance of B3 and glue in place. ( just glue B4, with just a little bit of glue, you’ll remove it later)
6. Then trim along the raw edge of B3. Use a ruler and rotary cutter you want this to be accurate.
Finish this segment and then all the other segments, assemble your quilt block and
voila your little happy boat isn’t just a happy boat, it actually tells a story.
You find all the boat patterns including the little happy boat here.
Is this something you guys would want to try?
Or do you have other techniques for fussy cutting?
I’m really curious so cant wait to hear from you all.