Thursday, May 15, 2014

Patchwork of the Crosses

The first two blocks we’ve been working on have been fairly simple blocks to cut and piece.  From here on, many of the blocks will involve fussy cutting or custom cutting each shape.  Fussy cutting is the technique of cutting identical shapes from the pattern repeat, which, when stitched together will give you a totally new geometric or kaleidoscopic pattern. Sometimes the new pattern is so intricate and different it’s hard to recognize the original fabric it came from. 
 To be honest, it’s a technique that has always seemed a little wasteful to me because finding the exact same repeat may involve cutting out chunks all over the fabric leaving “Swiss cheese” when you’re finished, but the finished designs are so exquisite it is well worth the effort.  Fussy cutting is what makes these blocks!  Look closely at the blocks in Lucy Boston’s quilt and you will see many great examples of fussy cutting in her crosses.
Fussy cutting is a lot of fun, but it can be time consuming because the options are endless and sometimes it’s hard to make a decision from all the choices available!  As you practice this technique you will find it gets easier and faster.  
Here is the method I use for fussy cutting:

Use the acrylic honeycomb template.  The inside marked line is the exact same size as the 1” honeycomb papers.  Because the template is clear plastic, you will be able to move it around and see the pattern clearly in the center “window”.  The space between the inner window and the outside of the template is the seam allowance.  Notice that the seam allowance is 3/8” – slightly larger than the normal ¼” seam allowance quilter’s normally use.

If you have trouble visualizing how your fussy cut shapes will look together, use a Magic Mirror to preview the patterns.  Hold the two mirrors at right angles and the image in the mirrors will show the complete pattern of the repeat.  Slide the mirrors along the fabric and watch the patterns change just like a kaleidoscope.  Playing with the mirrors and fabric will give you ideas for repeats you may never have been able to visualize on your own.  Check out our web site here for information on purchasing a magic mirror.
Once you have identified the fabric motif you want to use in the center of the acrylic template, cut out the shape with a small rotary cutter. 
Tip:  The acrylic templates can be very slippery – I line the back of mine with InvisiGrip which helps to keep them from sliding around so much when I’m cutting. 

InvisiGrip is a clear, non-slip material made by Omnigrid that clings (like static cling) to the back of your rulers or templates with no gluing or residues.  Once it is on the back of your rulers, you can't see it, but it does help to prevent slipping. It is great for all your rulers.  Call the shop to order.
Revolving cutting mats also make the job of rotary cutting less awkward.  Call the shop to order.
If you find rotary cutting the shapes too scary, simply draw around the template with a pencil and cut on the line using a scissors.

For the Lucy Boston blocks you will need four (or multiples of four) identical shapes for the fussy cut blocks.  Once a repeat has been identified, try to look for identifying marks in the corners of the template window so that you’ll know exactly where to place the template to get the exact same repeat on the next shape.
In the picture below, the acrylic template has been placed on the fabric using the repeat I've chosen.  Look at the inner window and notice the red tips at the points of the shape, the centering of the flower, and the location of the stripes. 

Place the template in exactly the same spot and repeat the cutting process until you have the number of shapes you need.

It’s sometimes helpful for patterns with an intricate design to lay the first cut-out fabric shape on top of the acrylic template as the template lays in place on the fabric.  If you have it in the exact same spot on the repeat, the fabric on top of the template will just “disappear” into the fabric below.
After the shapes are cut from the fabric, center the papers and baste.  Be careful!   It's easy for the repeat to be slightly off if you don't get the paper centered properly or if you stretch the fabric.  This is why I really like using the glue to baste - it's easy to pull up the glued edges to reposition the fabric if necessary.
When the basting is done and you're ready to start stitching, pay close attention to the placement of each honeycomb to make sure they're positioned correctly.  With some shapes it doesn't make a difference, but with the fabric illustrated, the stripes on the edges are a little different and require careful placement (see below).  Also, notice how those red tips came together to form a flower right in the center.

And that’s all there is to fussy cutting!  It takes a little practice, but you’re going to love the designs you come up with!

Fussy cutting is possible with Inklingo.  Click here and scroll down to the video to find out how.

If you’re new to this Blog Along, click here to start at the beginning of the Patchwork of the Crosses series.

1 comment:

Kristie said...

I ordered the acrylic template a few weeks ago and I love it! I love the look of fussy cutting but as you mentioned it does have a lot of waste. I am working on my 5th block so I still have a long way to go. :)

Have a wonderful and Blessed day