q Fabulous Fussy Cuts | Tourmaline & Thyme Quilts

Fussy cutting is a creative way of ensuring the portions of the fabric you love are incorporated in your project. Maybe you want to cut a specific row of fabric, like from a border stripe. Or you like a specific image from a panel or running yardage as a focal point for your quilt. Or you want to capture certain patterns or sections of fabric for smaller pieces.

I really enjoy using fussy cuts in patterns. You grab the elements of the fabric you like. Sometimes you can aggregate these cuts in one place to make something totally new – like a kaleidoscope quilt.

Making these fussy cuts takes a little practice and planning. Let’s talk about some of the best ways to make these types of quilts.

Border Stripes

If you are using a border stripe, determine how many stripes you will need. Let’s take an easy example, you are going to use the stripes for the border of a quilt. So, you will need four stripes. Hopefully, the stripe runs length of fabric so that you don’t need to splice fabric together.

The amount of fabric will be determined by the longest border plus a few inches for wiggle room. The length of the border will equal the yardage you need. So, a 70″ border, will need at least two yards.

Then, you need to figure out the repeat of the border stripe, measure the stripe from edge to edge. Look at the repeat carefully, just because a border stripe fabric has four stripes, doesn’t mean they are identical! That may not matter if they are similar enough. Also, remember that you will lose 1/4″ on both sides to a seam allowance. Your stripe can’t be wider than the repeat minus 1/2″ (for the seam allowances).

Now, here is the really tricky part. You will be tempted to use your rotary cutter here. If you are very good at pressing the fabric perfectly straight, you can use your rotary cutter for it. Otherwise, you are probably better off using your scissors to get the perfect cut. I strongly recommend starching the fabric before cutting to minimize stretching for border strips. Because they are cut length of fabric, they weave isn’t as stable as width of fabric cuts.

Here is an example where I used border stripes in two different ways. I had a beautiful border print that I want to use in a special way. It was a great test for my Prismatic pattern. You will note the stripe in the border, but I also used it in the wedges for a special cut. These were very large fussy cuts, but they gave a great perspective to the quilt.

Large Focal Fabrics

Another way to fussy cut fabric is for a focal point on a quilt. A good example of this is a panel or large repeat fabric. In these cases, it helps to use chalk, removable marker or painter’s tape to highlight the area you want before cutting. By highlighting the area, you minimize mistakes and maximize the fabric and your satisfaction!

Scarlet Shoji is an example where a large focal fabric was used. In this case, I used rulers to frame the image to ensure I captured the area I wanted.

Small Focal Fabrics

Smaller focal fabrics are probably the most popular and easiest ones to make. There are lots of rulers available, which have some type of frame or target format.

I find using freezer paper templates the best way to make these cuts. To use a freezer paper template, you will cut the template to the shape you need. Then, remove the center and leaving 1/4″ to 1/2″ frame. This allows you to frame the images. I like the freezer paper frames because I see exactly what image I am getting. Plus, the freezer paper adheres to the fabric to make accurate cutting easier.

Diamond Panes is pattern where I have used this technique. I really like the bird in the image on the left, but it won’t fit neatly into the block. The image in the middle show that I can get two birds in the block. This is a much better choice. The right image shows the final block.

We hope this hints on how to fussy cut fabrics will help you make your quilts fabulous!

Happy Quilting!