August 18, 2016

Snowball Quilt; Fussy Cutting

2016 is the year of using my stash. Or more correctly, the first of many years of using my stash.
I probably have enough fabric to last a lifetime so I really, really should use it.

Sometimes though it's not easy. Sometimes I pull fabrics and then find it quite hard to cut them up. Fabrics that I've had forever. Fabrics that are out of print. Fabrics that I had another plan for.
hmmm . . . if I had a plan then why haven't I used it?

Do you feel my pain? Come on. Admit it. I'll bet you've have a least one fabric that you've hoarded and don't want to cut.

I have been cutting a lot of fabric lately. Fabric for multiple projects that I wrote about here. This week I'm focusing on the snowball quilt. It's an abundance of color and blooms. Many of the blocks feature fussy cut flowers so I thought I'd share my fussy cutting method.

1.  Start by cutting a 2 part paper template. The first part is a window with an opening the exact finished size of the block. The second part is simply the cut out part from the window.
I use copy paper.

2.  Using the window, audition different areas of the fabric to find the part you'd like to fussy cut.

3.  Once the area to cut is selected, place the template shape in the window opening. It helps to have a rolled piece of tape on the back of the shape to hold it in position.

4.  Remove the template window, leaving the shape in place.

5.  Position a quilter's ruler over the paper shape allowing a 1/4" seam allowance around two sides of the paper shape and cut along the ruler on both sides. Reposition the ruler, adding the 1/4" seam allowances, and cut the remaining two sides.

6.  Thats' it! Now you have a fussy cut shape and leftover fabric with a hole in it.

You may be wondering why my template window is a hexagon but my cut shape ends up being a square. For the snowball block I will be using the stitch and flip method on the corners of the block to create the angles so there's no need to cut a hexagon shape. I do want to see what part of the fabric will actually show in the finished block though, so my template window is a hexagon. I've used this method for years and have a file full of different sized square windows.

It's the leftover fabric with holes in it that gives me pause right now. I find myself being indecisive about fussy cutting some of my favorite Kaffe prints. I've hoarded many of them for a long time and of course they aren't available any more. Fussy cutting can leave very chopped up pieces of fabric. Not that the remaining piece isn't usable but it might end up being less useful when there's a hole cut out of it. I'm doing my best to keep the holes along one edge so that I still have the option to cut WOF strips or other bigger pieces in the future.

While I may agonize here and there about cutting holes in my fabric, it feels sooo good to use my stash. I'm mixing my older traditional florals with a wide variety of Kaffe and Amy Butler prints.
So far I love what's going on.

This is how it's looking on my wall. No rhythm or reason yet to placement. That will come after I sew the corners on. I am curious though about the possibility of bordering it with the green prints. This happened accidentally as I cut mostly warm colors when I started and then moved on to the cooler colors. There wasn't anyplace to put them other than the edges. This is probably only half of what I'll need for a queen sized quilt so I have a lot more cutting to do.

If you're wondering about how to use your stash, take a look at this article by Weeks Ringle. While most of the fabrics in the article are more traditional than mine, Weeks provides valuable tips on using your stash by combining different fabrics into workable groups.



  1. Oh, that's going to be so pretty! Worth leaving holes in your fabric.

  2. I love what's going on here too!! First of all I get what you're saying about cutting into the luscious fabrics, especially fussy cutting. Your mixing of older floral fabrics with KF and others has worked beautifully, I wouldn't have thought they would all work together so well. I have stacks of the older Hoffman florals, which are beauties from another age, and have been pondering on what exactly to use them for - I shall now look at them in a different light!

  3. Beautiful quilt and a great tutorial!

  4. Beautiful quilt and a great tutorial!

  5. I can totally relate to not wanting to cut into beautiful fabric... but when you create an even more beautiful quilt because you have so cleverly put them together.....Magic happens!

  6. Great explanation of how you approach fussy cutting and what a beautiful array you have made for the quilt; I look forward to seeing this come together!

  7. That is going to be a spectacular quilt. I have to admit that I have too many stashed fabrics too.

  8. I'm in the process of moving. My quilt fabric, books and magazines and all the items needed to make quilts is almost half of our belongings. I have given about 300 lbs of fabric and books away so far. Looking at some of my favorite fabric not used makes me sad. Like you, I am never sure absolutely which fabric and which pattern go together perfectly. This next year I hope to cut into some of my beautiful Kaffe fabric too. Good Luck.

  9. I love how the different scale and style of fabrics work together. I say, use the fabric! It's still in your collection when it's in a quilt, right? Especially a quilt you're going to keep and use and love.

  10. That is an awesome idea, I have never thought to approach fussy cutting like that. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Well, you've overwhelmed me with a great-looking project, and I'm not even a fan of Kaffe fabrics! Your fussy-cutting approach is really interesting. I'll be sure to remember it if I ever find myself in need of fussy-cut shapes. Quite honestly, I've never felt any hesitation about cutting into a pretty fabric. Truly! I have more anxiety and feelings of guilt about KEEPING too much fabric! What if I die and my family has to come in and clean out my sewing room?! How awful for them to discover how much fabric I've accumulated and never touched! I'd way more rather they found lots of scraps - even with holes in them :-) - that are "proof" of me USING what I've purchased. I guess you and I are opposites in this regard. Keep up the great work!


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