Can’t cut it? Quilt patterns for large-print fabrics

Detail of a quilt from Blended BordersMost every quilter’s done it. You find a fabric you can’t live without—the print is so bold, the print is so beautiful, the print is so… BIG. You buy it, bring it home, and touch (cuddle, hug) it lovingly. Then, you begin to devise how you might use it in a quilt. And you come up blank. It’s just too wonderful to cut!

Or is it?

Below are a few tips for getting the most bang for your big-print buck from fabric lovers who would know—some of our popular authors. Grab that beautiful yardage and see if these quilt patterns for large-scale prints match up with one of these designers’ ideas.

1. Fussy Cut It

Karin Renaud

From Karin Renaud, author of Quilts from the Heart and Quilts from the Heart II

Fussy cutting is a wonderful way to personalize your quilts. It allows you to make use of fun or interesting fabrics by centering a specific design in a cut square. Fussy-cut motifs can be used as the focal point of a quilt, as well as for hidden surprises, such as in “Make Way for Ducklings” below.

Make Way for Ducklings quiltMake Way for Ducklings quilt--detail
“Make Way for Ducklings” quilt and detail, from Quilts from the Heart II.

Fussy cutting requires more fabric than is needed for straight cutting fabric strips. If you’re fussy cutting a few squares out of a variety of fabrics, this won’t significantly increase the amount of fabric required to make your quilt. If, however, you’re planning on cutting all your fussy-cut blocks from a single fabric, you’ll have to purchase more yardage. The pattern and design of the fabric that you select will affect how much more you’ll need.

To fussy cut a specific design from fabric, follow the steps below.

1. Make sure that the printed motif is the appropriate size for the finished square in the desired block. The block in “Make Way for Ducklings” requires 2½" x 2½" squares that will finish at 2″ square. That means the motif must fit inside the 2″ square. In the fabric shown below, the duck motif measures 1¾" x 1¾", so it will work for the 2″ square space.

Fussy cutting 1

2. Determine the center point of the square and center the fabric motif under your ruler. To find the center point, divide the cut dimension in half. For example, the center point of a 2½" square is 1¼", so center the motif under the 1¼" intersection on the ruler.

Fussy cutting 2

3. Cut along the edges of the ruler on the top and right sides.

Fussy cutting 3

4. Lift the ruler and rotate the fabric 180º. Align the ruler so that the two cut edges are at the 2½" line. Cut the two remaining sides. The design should be centered within the square.

Fussy cutting 4

Determining Yardage for Fussy Cutting
To determine how much fabric to purchase, spread the fabric out to see how many squares you can get out of a specific quantity of fabric without overlapping. Divide the number of squares needed by the number you can get from that quantity of fabric; use the answer to multiply the original quantity of fabric. For example, let’s say you can fussy cut 10 squares from of ¼ yard of the fabric you selected. The project calls for 30 squares. Divide 30 by 10 and you get 3. You would need three ¼-yard pieces, or ¾ yard total, to ensure that you have enough fabric to cut 30 squares.

For fussy cutting, it’s not unusual to have to buy double or more the amount of fabric than you’d buy if you were cutting the fabric in strips. I always round up when I know I’m going to fussy cut a project. The nice thing is that if I end up with extra fabric, I can always include it in another quilt.

See all the patterns in Quilts from the Heart II—save 40% this week!

2. Applique It

Pamela MostekFrom Pamela Mostek, author of Blended Borders and Scatter Garden Quilts

My blended-borders technique is easy but the results are amazing! It’s a simple-to-do border treatment that will take your quilts from ordinary to extraordinary. It’s all about cutting motifs from your border fabric, positioning them in a pleasing arrangement on the seam between the quilt center and the border strips, and then using raw-edged appliqué to stitch them to the quilt, blending the quilt center and border. For me, the fun part is placing those motifs, whatever they are, on the border seam. I add enough appliqué shapes to give the illusion that the border spills over into the quilt center.

When Pies Fly quilt from Blended Borders When Pies Fly detail
“When Pies Fly” quilt and detail, from Blended Borders.

My technique is a raw-edged-appliqué technique. The edges of the appliqués are meant to fray, adding dimension and interest to the design. I often use a toothbrush to rough up the edges of the appliqués after the quilting is complete.

Find details about this technique in Blended Borders (40% off this week).

You can also see Pamela’s quilt patterns for large-scale prints that use both piecing and appliqué in her eBook, Scatter Garden Quilts (also 40% off this week):

Rambling Roses from Scatter Garden Quilts Tropical Tulips from Scatter Garden Quilts
“Rambling Roses” and “Tropical Tulips”

Hot Summer Sun from Scatter Garden Quilts A Garden Wreath from Scatter Garden Quilts
“Hot Summer Sun” and “A Garden Wreath”

3. Wear it!

Nancie WisemanFrom Nancie Wiseman, author of Start with a Sweatshirt and Start with a Sweatshirt II

Want to showcase the lovely large motifs in a fabric? In this jacket, I fussy cut rose motifs and surrounded them with a coordinating checkerboard. This combination was ideal for creating large pockets on the front panels that blend seamlessly into the design. Three fabulous buttons on the jacket front make the perfect finish. I think you’ll really enjoy making this jacket, and you certainly won’t go unnoticed when you wear it.

Jacket from Start with a Sweatshirt 2 illustration from Start with a Sweatshirt 2

Nancie’s jacket uses a soft sweatshirt as a base, making it as comfy as it is pretty. She pieces motifs into blocks first; then sews the blocks onto the sweatshirt foundation.

See more projects from Start with a Sweatshirt II (save 40% this week).

Have you fussy-cut your large-print fabrics? Was it as “fussy” a job as you thought it would be—and how did you like the results? Tell us your quilt story in the comments!

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