Fussy Cutting for Applique

Applique is so much fun, in part, because you can really get creative with the fabrics you use. Fussy cutting is often used with applique to highlight designs in the fabric. That means cutting fabric so that a part of its design is centered in the applique space. How do you do that without a lot of trial and error? Read on!

The applique technique uses a series of placement stitches (to show where the fabric will go) and tack down stitches (to secure the applique fabric to the base fabric). You can use the tack down stitches as a template for fussy cutting applique shapes. Templates will work with any applique designs.

Most embroidery editing programs, like Hatch, allow you to print out design images and color sequences.  In the diagram above, the star block features a center square and eight outside triangles, all appliqued.

In editing software, save your design and add “template” to the file name. Use that file to create your fussy cutting template so that the original design is not changed.

Delete all parts of the design except for the placement lines. Print out the file (use a card stock as it is more rigid than plain paper) and you will have a line diagram like the star above. Use it like a stencil.

If you want to fussy cut the center fabric, cut out the center of the square.

If you want the triangles to be fussy cut, cut them out.

Make the cut out areas slightly larger by cutting outside the lines. That way, there is enough fabric to catch the tack down stitching. After tack down, cut fabric to the stitch line as you would with any applique.

Position the stencil over fabric until it shows the fabric design you want to feature. Draw around the inside of the stencil with a chalk marker and then cut fabric on the lines you traced.

Be careful when using fabric that includes wording or directional stripes. Fabric arrangement should be consistent to maintain a polished look to your design.

Another way to create a cutting template is to hoop a tear away stabilizer and tape a piece of card stock on top, then embroider the tack down stitch for the square or triangles (don’t use thread). The needle will cut a rough stencil for you.

Fussy cutting allows you to add an extra “wow” factor to applique embroidery without the guess work!