By Barb Bergquist
I remember the first time I heard a quilter mention “fussy cut.” I didn’t know what it was, so I asked her. And she explained, just as I am going to do. First, in words – according to Google, “A fussy cut is a piece of fabric that's been cut to target a specific area of a print, rather than cutting the yardage into random pieces.” Fussy cutting then is the process of cutting your quilt fabric so that you get the specific area of the pattern from your fabric in exactly the place that you want it.Fussy cutting can take an ordinary quilt pattern and add interest. A quilt block with a center square is an ideal time to fussy cut fabric. Take for example the Square within a Square block. If you just cut a print such as Pink Flamingos from the Fun collection by Timeless Treasures following the specified cutting directions, you would probably end up with blocks similar to this.
Instead, I am going to target the flamingos in the pattern and fussy cut the print to center on one. Look at the difference that makes!
Now if you find a print that you want use as the center of your quilt blocks, be sure to measure the print to ensure that the target area of the print will fit the piece of the block where you want to use it. Also, because fussy cuts targets only certain areas of the quilt fabric, be sure to measure the distance between the targeted areas to count how many you will get out of your piece. Buy enough fabric to accommodate the number of pieces you will need for your quilt project. With that said, you probably already realize that you will need more fabric for fussy cutting than what the quilt pattern specifies. Be sure you buy enough to save the frustration later of trying to find more.
Here is a recently finished pieced top for a wallhanging that I am making. This is my own design so there is no pattern for it, but it is simple enough that you can do something very similar. (Go ahead! I don’t mind.) It all started with a fabric that I saw at a quilt shop I recently visited. Because I love cardinals, I just had to have a piece of this fabric. On my drive home, I decided to make a window with the cardinals focused in the "panes." And so I fussy cut the fabric into rectangles that resembled window panes, and framed them with Blizzard from the Frosting collection by Timeless Treasures. I am going to big-stitch quilt it with silver thread along the tree trunks and then bind it with the black fabric. When it hangs on my wall, it will be as if I’m looking out a window at a flock of cardinals!
So now you see what you can do with fussy cutting and a little imagination. Give it a try sometime. I think you will like the results as much as I do!
Barb Bergquist along with husband, Ron, own A Block Away Quilt Shop. A dedicated quilter with more than 25 years of experience, she is now actively sharing her love of quilting through the work in her shop.