Tuesday 1 March 2011

fussy cutting : a patchwork tutorial

Whilst making my last quilt I discovered the term 
fussy cutting.
It was something I was already doing without realising it.

This is my tutorial to show you how simple it really is to turn
an average looking patchwork quilt into something a bit more exciting.
And to prove it I am using a pattern I've not used before.
I am by no means an experienced quilter,
so forgive me if I do anything in an odd manner,
this is my method and it works for me.

For this tutorial I am paper piecing by hand, 
but there are a ton of designs suited to the machine also.
The shape I am going to show you stems from a hexagon.
Hexagons are so versatile, you really can do so much with them!

You will need:

4 types of fabric, one  preferably that is geometrical or stripey
these tend to work well when fussy cutting.

4 card templates, which I will show you how to make

paper for the templates, I use computer paper or old envelopes.

I make all my templates, just because I generally make patchwork from scratch,
and template making is so easy.
To start with you will need a hexagon template,
google hexagon in the images section
and print one off, mine has 3cm sides.
Make a cardboard template as above.
Next, draw around the hexagon and extend two sides to make a point.
Make this new crystal shape into a card template
and make 6 paper pieces,
Isn't it neat how they fit together?
So here are the first pieces.
Ready to get fussy cutting?
I've chosen a sweet butterfly for the centre hexagon.
This fabric is an old nightgown that cost me £1 from a charity shop.
With the motif in the middle,
pin, cut with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and sew.
I tack through the card and fabric,
which is not strictly correct,
I find it quicker and easier this way
especially with larger or more tricky shapes.
Next up the stripey or geometrical fabric.
Another vintage piece that cost £1.50.
It is important here that you cut all 6 points the same.
If you are using fabric with a busy pattern, 
make sure you find the repeat and cut the shapes all alike.
This is not always a great idea as it can be wasteful,
which is why a striped fabric is good.
Sew up the crystal shapes like before, 
being careful and keeping the stripes straight.
Mine are not perfect, I'm not that kind of girl.
There is a certain amount of give when hand sewing,
but they do need to be somewhat similar.
Next with right sides together I whip-stitched all the points to the hexagon.
And next the sides in the same way.
Now for this tutorial I am showing you step by step.
Once you have all your fabrics paper pieced in the desired
pattern, it would make more sense to sew more pieces together continually,
and not small bits at a time.
Now you have your star shape the next step is to choose the shape which surrounds.
Above you can see how there are a few different add ons.
All these shapes can be easily made using the template you already have.
This one can be split into 3 or as a whole hexagon.
Once you have chosen your shape make a template.
For this tutorial I have chosen a simple triangle, 
for bigger projects you may prefer the diamond or hexagon,
both of which I have used.
This picture shows how I fold the piece over to make stitching easier.
And the result.
I am adding an extra border to my piece.
Above is how I worked out the shape, 
by working with the templates already used.
Again try to fussy cut all the same.
 The finished piece...
 with papers
(remove the papers only when you have completed the whole project!)
I simply stitched a felt backing on
and practiced my
'in the ditch' quilting,
which I am hideously awful at.
(no really)

mistakes I made useful advice:

use a coloured tacking thread 
so you don't cut the wrong knots when removing the paper!

try and buy 100% cotton solids
to prevent puckering, which I found with the jade fabric.

spend more time getting your centre motif 
where you want it!


Like I've said before I am no expert,
if there is anything I've left out or 
if you have any questions
leave me a comment!

ps. these are my favourite colours.
very 1920s upstairs downstairs!


{Love, Love, Love} said...

Wow...looks fab Clare x

kim said...

Thanks for the tutorial, I've never attempted patchwork before, but this looks really effective.
florrie x

Simone said...

Clare! Wonderful tutorial!!! You make it look so easy. I really MUST give this patchwork lark a go! I think I will start with non repeat patterns to make my stars and only go for 'fussy cutting' if and when I get more experienced. Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to put this tutorial together. x

Juliab said...

You have the patience of a saint - not entirely sure I could cope with the fiddly cutting, folding, stitching. Love the colours you chose, it's beautiful. I may well have a go at a small patchwork project just to see if I could get on with it...

Diane said...

You always choose such lovely fabrics. Fab tutorial - you have the patience of a saint!!!

Anonymous said...
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Peeriemoot said...

Great tutorial :-).

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I really like how you quilt and piece ! I think there is joy in the process and I enjoy that you make all things from scratch !!! Izzy ( New Jersey)

greenrabbitdesigns said...

Love your choice of colours Clare and your fussy-cutting is so very neat!
Vivienne x

ahomespunyear said...

Thank you...it's ages since I did any patchwork but this has really inspired me to start again.
I love the way you've used the butterfly motif in the centre and the stripes around it.

Tea with Prudence said...

Thankyou for taking the time to put this together.

I am going to try and fit in some time (which there isnt a lot of lately), to try this.

Yes, you do put such lovely colours together.


Brazenjane said...

Fabulous tutorial, can't wait to have a go. May I add something? I've just done some fussy cutting patchwork and found using freezer paper a really easy way to make the templates.

It's plastic coated on one side so when ironed gives enough stickiness to attach to fabric without marking it and can be easily repositioned if you don't get it right first time.

You can print on the paper side too. And it saves having to hold the template to the fabric too tightly when tacking.

Helen Philipps said...

This post was so interesting to me! I love making paper pieced patchwork designs -it's how I began making patchwork quilts years ago and I love the method. I also only discovered the term 'fussy cutting' (so descriptive!) recently although like you I'd been doing it for years - it's a lovely way to accent your favourite motifs. I love the shapes you used in your tutorial, which was very clear and well done, and I'm sure lots of people will be inspired to try this technique - I'm looking forward to starting my next one now!
Helen x

Maaike said...

Oh Clare, I love your quilt-work and this tutorial is great! I am just about to begin with my first quilt ever in a few days, so exciting... this is really promising!
Have a great day,
love Maaike

two bones and a bagle said...

Thank you for the tutorial I popped over from Diane at Heart Shaped she told me you were a patchy person as she had noticed I am making lots of hexagons at the moment. Will call again.

catherine said...

this is a great tutorial. I have tried piecing before, but it was a disaster, this makes me want to have another go.

Hoola Tallulah said...

I suck so bad at this kind of patchwork, I lack precision, but this is an AWESOME tutorial and I am itching to have a go... oh wishing for more time, I have stashed this away for a rainy day when I may just surprise myself and give it a bash. Thanks for sharing!

Simone said...

Clare.......what have you done? You may like to see what I have been up to!!! x

potterjotter said...

Well - I've learnt something new. Didn't really know how it was done until now. May have a go myself one day!

Catherine said...

I love what you've made and thanks for such a really good clear and helpful tutorial. I've done paper piecing before, but it had never occurred to me how to use one template to create others in different shapes.

Jodi said...

Wow - you put a lot of work into that tute - thanks, it's wonderful! I have an EPP UFO that I MUST get to sometime soon! Thanks for the encouragement!

Ela said...

Thanks for the tutorial!

kinter said...

I found you via FaveQuilts and you make it look so easy! I'm a new follower and I may have a go at this, now! Thanks for a great tutorial!

Chumkie said...

Thank you, Clare, for an excellent tutorial in hand paper piecing. I'm always looking for quilt as you go take-along projects and this is a great example. I, too, found you through FaveQuilts and am a brand new follower so I can refer back to this tutorial and look forward to browsing through past posts.
My Favourite Things.

Unknown said...

Thank you very much for this tutorial. I found it while looking for ideas for a quilt square to submit to the Astronomical Quilts Block Challenge, started by astronaut Karen Nyberg. The quilt squares have to contain a star theme and I wanted mine to also have a relation to honey bees, so needed hexagons. I think I found a picture of your hexagon star block on pinterest. Thanks to your clear instructions, I got my block sewn easily, despite having never used this method before. If I knew how to post a picture of my block, I would. Here's a link to the quilt block challenge flier, if you are interested in submitting a block. http://www.quilts.com/pressreleases/y2013/FQF13QuiltChallengeFlyer.pdf

Moonwishes said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I've pinned it to my quilting--Hexagon board on Pinterest so I can find it and your blog again.

Anonymous said...

This is so cute and lovely, going to try and make one tonight, thank you for the great tutorial, all very clear!

Anonymous said...

great tutorial. thanks. for those who may not know, this is called English paper piecing. I have used it before doing Grandmother's flower garden. thanks again, Betty