Fussy cutting is too fussy for me!

My Polka Dot Cafe Apron. Week 4 of the Zakka 2.0 sew along.

My Polka Dot Cafe Apron.
Week 4 of the Zakka 2.0 sew along.

I like this definition by the Nerdy Sewist – “Fussy cutting” is the phrase used, generally by quilters, to describe cutting a detail or particular piece of a pattern from the fabric, as opposed to just cutting a strip from the fold to the selvedge. Fussy cutting is particularly common when it comes to novelty printed fabrics…”

Polka Dot Cafe Apron - photo from the book Patchwork Please by Ayumi Takahashi

Polka Dot Cafe Apron – photo from the book Patchwork Please by Ayumi Takahashi

This week’s Zakka 2.0 sew along project from the book Patchwork Please is the Polka Dot Cafe Apron.  This apron involves making up 3 patchwork squares sewn together to form a pocket for the apron.

Patchwork squares by Angela Pingel of Cut to Pieces.

Great example of fussy cutting by Angela Pingel of Cut to Pieces.

As you can see, both Ayumi and Angela meticulously cut their fabric in order to place these little bits of fabric exactly where they wanted them in their patchwork squares which are only 6 inches square! Their aprons really look fabulous and show all the work they did.

Cafe Apron by Angela Pingel

Cafe Apron by Angela Pingel

Angela is the guest blogger this week for the sew along and has a wonderful post here of making this apron with lots of tips and pictures.

The book comes with templates for these little patchwork squares and triangles and suggests you position them on your fabric and cut around them. This already seemed too fussy for me but I gave it a try.  Basically I turned a perfectly good piece of fabric into this:

How I tried to fussy cut some of these kitchen motifs.

How I tried to fussy cut some of these kitchen motifs.

And the result was not wonderful due to the size and spacing of the objects on the fabric. Not to mention the fact that they are all on the diagonal!

My attempt at fussy cutting

My attempt at fussy cutting

For the other 2 blocks I decided to flat out paper piece them and not worry about fussy cutting. It was not difficult to turn the template in the book to a paper pieced pattern.

Paper pieced pattern

Paper pieced pattern

This piecing went rather quickly once I decided on the fabrics to use.

Paper pieces ready for joining

Paper pieces ready for joining

I tried to use as many polka dot-like fabrics as possible.

Polka dots!

Polka dots!

I had bought some dishtowels for the week 2 project that I did not end up using and they seemed the perfect size for this cafe apron. So I simply sewed my finished pocket onto this pale yellow dishtowel and then added the sash as described in the book (by folding the top over an inch and catching the sash in the sides).


Finished cafe apron.

I am very happy with the result. In the future, I may try to fussy cut a piece here or there, but I will never be able to cut every major piece this way. I just love the sewing too much to spend that much time on the cutting!


Filed under Pattern review, Zakka Style sew along

13 responses to “Fussy cutting is too fussy for me!

  1. the apron came out really cute, Linda! I have not fussy cut anything for a long time, at least not that I can remember. the results are great, but I’m not up for more than a few pieces of it either!

  2. Debbie L

    Great finished project. But, I understand completely about ‘fussy cutting’ Just the words give me pause. – I think it is a “spacial awareness” issue. For some people I know it is simple – they just line up the motif and GO. Peole have tried to show me how to “view find” it etc. I am with you on the wonky diamonds – that is exactly how mine would look. Debbie

  3. Thank you for the mention and the link back! I totally agree, cutting is such a buzzkill, especially when you want to do a quick project. The final product is adorable!!!

  4. CAT

    LOLOL, I love that description and pic of the first fabric, soooo funny. It came out FANTASTIC! good for you!

  5. Heather

    I’m planning to do the project this week and was just thinking, hmm…wonder if I could paper piece the patchwork. I’ll definitely be taking your lead on that one. Am I right the pattern leaves it as one larger pocket? I wonder if it would make sense to divide it across the three blocks?

    • Some of the other sewers have divided it. I think it’s personal preference and what you think you’ll use it for. Good luck!

      Sent from my iPhone

  6. oh this is great – appreciate the fussy cutting bit – and your version turned out really nice!

  7. I am amazed that you find it “simple” to turn this into a PP pattern. Impressive!!

    • It was a matter of determining which parts could be sewn in one piece and then adding 1/4″ seam allowances to them. If you want to try paper piecing this, I could send you my pattern. Let me know!

  8. Sharon hankins

    Amen to “fussy cutting” vs. sewing! Cute results!

  9. Frederick

    I can relate Linda! That fussy cutting is very tricky work. I used it a bit when I did my Rose Star EPP quilt blocks but I am in awe of the quilters who can cut entire blocks that somehow use the patterns to enhance their designs.
    I have been watching this blog that posts grandmother’s blocks with women’s history each week where one block is posted by this lady each week always with such amazing fussy cut patterns. Wish I knew how she does it! http://flic.kr/p/eNoRRT that’s a flickr image link to an example of her work using reproduction fabrics from William Morris I think.

  10. I think it is the combination of small pieces, fussy cutting, and being on the bias that all add up here to a bit of a tricky situation. Trust me, I did this slowly and one block at a time. I don’t often take the time to really fussy cut so much of a small project like this. Your apron looks adorable and I’m glad you paper pieced it. I would do that if I did it again.

  11. I love your version and really admire how you converted this pattern to paper-piecing. I’m going back to get a good look at that photo someday and try it myself. The templates, unfortunately, need some adjustment, I think. I love the balance of “fussy” and “random” that your blocks strike!

I would love for you to leave me a comment about this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s