A beginner's guide to fussy cutting


What is Fussy Cutting? 

In our new Quilter’s Workbook we have include a series of blocks for you to make. One of them, the peek a book block, is a fussy cut block. We thought we’d add a guide to our website about fussy cutting for those of you who haven’t come across it before. 


What is fussy cutting

Fussy cutting is a way of cutting your fabric to highlight a particular motif of aspect of the fabric print. For example with our peek a boo block we thought it would look great to have an animal peeking through in the centre. You can see from the pin cushion above that animals look great in fussy cut designs. 


Fussy cut hexagons

 When can you use fussy cutting? 

You can use fussy cutting on a small scale for patchwork projects, you see it done a lot in English Paper piecing where the shape is cut to highlight a certain part of the fabric print as seen in the hexagons above.  That picture shows a close up of a wall hanging I made, featuring fussy cut hexagons. 


Economy block mini quilt with fussy cutting

Above you will see a mini quilt I made using the square in a square design that you’ll find in our quilting workbook (also know as an economy block) fussy cutting the centre of the blocks to perfectly highlight animals from my favourite Tula Pink fabrics. A lot of block designs tend to have a focal point which would look great with fussy cut fabrics. For example the centre of a star, the square in a square, the centre of a dresden plate etc

You can also do it on a bigger scale for larger projects such as bags and pouches, below is a collage showing a few of the larger projects I’ve made using the fussy cutting technique. 

Fussy cut sewing projects

 So what do you need to fussy cut? 

A fabric with pictorial motifs on it such as animals, people, birds, flowers etc. Once you start fussy cutting fabrics you’ll find you easily identify which prints are best for this technique. 

A transparent ruler or template.

Placing the ruler over the motif you plan to cut out helps you ensure you’ve centred the motif accurately. Cut out your design, making sure you leave enough fabric around the edge for your seam allowance (normally 1/4 an inch in patchwork). 

You can buy templates for fussy cutting common English Paper piecing shapes. Or you can make your own by drawing the shape onto cardboard, add a 1/4 seam allowance around the outside. Cut out around the seam allowance line, then cut the line where you drew your original shape. This should remove the centre, giving you a gap the exact size and shape of your shape with the border being your seam allowance in card. Place your template on fabric to figure out where best to cut, using the ‘window’ in the middle to see the print of the fabric.