Frame Your Fabric Using Fussy Cutting in Appliqué

Fussy cutting is a term that originated in quilting. The technique isolates certain fabric designs so that, when they are cut and stitched, they serve as a focal point in the piece you are making. I’ll show you how to incorporate fussy cutting into your hand and machine appliqué to create designs that are as artistic as they are structural.

Read on to explore the applications of fussy cutting!

Mosaic block quiltPhoto via Bluprint member During Quiet Time

The central square of this paper-pieced block is fussy cut. Bluprint member During Quiet Time centered the teacup motif in the middle of the shape when the fabric was cut. Even the wording in the border strips is carefully incorporated into the piece. Get the FREE Mosaic Block pattern here.

Grannies choicePhoto via Bluprint member Annies Quilt Craft

The center square and surrounding diamonds of Grannies Choice all feature flowers carefully fussy cut to fit inside the shapes. So if you can use fussy cutting for quilt piecing, why not appliqué? Appliqué is, after all, “layered” piecing. Get the Grannies Choice pattern here.

Examples of fussy cutting in appliqué:

1. Featuring the fabric

Fussy cutting is ideal for appliqué because the finishing stitches provide an instant frame for the fabric design. When fabric complements appliqué shapes, it really enhances the overall appearance of of the project.

Fussy cut bird MAINPhoto via Designs by JuJu

This little beauty is made even more adorable by careful placement of the appliqué fabrics. Swirls in the head match the scalloped neck and the paisley wing looks like it belongs there. Get the Birds of a Feather design here.

Floral fussy cutPhotos via Bluprint member Edies Designs

Without careful placement, these pockets would be ordinary. Centering the flowers within the pocket makes a custom, finished look. Get the Pockets 1 Appliqué design here. Get the Pockets 3 Appliqué design here.

Framed fabric designsPhotos via Bluprint member Edies Designs

Matching the fabric shape to the appliqué is a bonus. The circular design on the left would not make as much of an impact if it were in a square appliqué frame. In the vertical format, the turtle has room to make his deep sea dive. Get the Regal Appliqués designs here. Get the Pockets 2 Appliqué designs here.

Fussy cut shoePhoto via Bluprint member fromthecraftroom

 This hand appliqué design makes gorgeous use of fabric within the shape. The design wraps around the toe, strap and down the heel. It could not have been more perfect if the design were drawn on the fabric instead of printed. Get the French Slipper pattern here.

Applique cat

Photo via Bluprint member Busy Crow Studio

Even crazy quilting-style hand appliqué benefits from fussy cutting. Centering the rosebud in one panel even makes random look structured. Get the Crazy Cat Embroidered Appliqué pattern here.

Fussy cut apron Fussy cut flower hexagon pocket from Bluprint’s Machine Embroidered Appliqué

Hexagons are coming back in style. This adorable hexie pocket is made entirely in the hoop in JoAnn Connolly‘s Machine Embroidered Appliqué class. What makes it even more lovely is that the fabrics are fussy cut to feature flowers in the center of alternating hexagons.

2. Directional patterns

Stripes patternsPhotos via Bluprint member Edies Designs

Fabrics with directional designs pose a challenge, particularly in small appliqué frames. If the fabric is the slightest bit off center, the error is magnified. Once the edges are stitched, it is too late. Fussy cutting helps with appliqué alignment. Get the Regal Appliqués designs here. Get the Pockets 3 Appliqué designs here.

Nautical anchor lifesaver monogramPhoto via Bluprint member Bella Bleu Michigan

Get the Nautical Anchor Life Saver Monogram design here.

3. Using symmetry

Valentine owlPhoto via Bluprint member Baby Kay’s Appliqués

Fussy cutting is even more useful with multiple appliqués going in multiple directions. Get the Valentine 3 Heart Owl design here.

Chick in eggPhoto via Bluprint member Appliqué Geek

Big dots balance with tighter, scalloped stripes. If both the chick and shell were striped, the design would be overbearing. Get the Easter Chick in Egg design here.

Balanced applique Photos via Bluprint member Edies Designs

Balanced appliqué can mean centered like the pink diamonds or slightly offset like the flowers. Get the Pockets 2 Appliqué designs here. Get the Pockets 3 Appliqué designs here.

Try fussy cutting the fabric in your next appliqué. Check back and I’ll show you how templates make it easy!

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Learn the secrets to achieving professional results with machine embroidered appliqué in Bluprint’s Machine Embroidered Appliqué class!

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What fabric do you want to use in a fussy cutting appliqué project?

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