How to Fussy Cut Fabric for Quilting Projects

Welcome to the Spooky Sampler Quilt Along! Each week during the quilt along, I thought I’d share a few quilting tips & tricks to help you more easily construct the blocks in the pattern. This week we are kicking things off with a quick tutorial teaching you how to fussy cut fabric.

various fabrics and cutting tools on white cutting mat

Some of you may have read the title of this article and thought to yourself, “what in the world is fussy cutting?”. I know that when I first began quilting, I was perplexed. I frequently heard people mentioning how they “fussy cut” their fabric as I followed along on Instagram or quilt blogs.

One day, I just asked someone what it meant. They explained it, and it’s a crazy simple concept. If you’re not familiar with it, I’ll explain it a bit more today and give you a few tips and tricks for fussy cutting your fabrics as well.

What Is Fussy Cutting?

In quilting, the term “fussy cutting” refers to strategically cutting your fabric so that a specific portion of the fabric print will show in your finished quilt block. Instead of just randomly cutting the fabric into squares as you would do with most quilt patterns, you precisely select the portion of the fabric and cut it.

red and green christmas quilt block on white cutting mat

(6″ Sawtooth Star Quilt Block)

Does Fussy Cutting Waste Fabric?

Short answer, yes. Anytime you want to match patterns or cut just a portion of your fabric, it will waste fabric. However, it’s easy to find a use for the non-fussy cut sections of your fabric most of the time.

Why Would you Want to Fussy Cut?

gray and yellow quilt block on white cutting mat

(bear paw quilt block)

In my opinion, because it’s a fun and clever way to highlight specific prints in a finished quilt project. Think of creating a quilt like telling a story. With fussy cutting, you’re able to
“tell a story” based on the images you are selecting for your quilt blocks. It allows you to be more intentional with the fabric you choose for your quilt.

You can also create really cool secondary patterns with the prints you are sewing with by fussy cutting them, as Amy demonstrates in this English Paper piecing project.

Favorite Tools

How to Fussy Cut

Fussy cutting is effortless. If you have a selection of quilt rulers, then it’s even easier. If you don’t, you can also use a regular ruler and fabric-safe marking pen.

various fabrics and cutting tools on white cutting mat

How to Fussy Cut Fabric

Melissa Mortenson
Learn a simple way to fussy cut fabric to create unique and intentional quilt blocks.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 piece Fabric at least 1" larger on all sides than listed in the quilt pattern.


Select Fabric

  • Taking note of the dimensions of the fabric required for your quilt block, find a section of your fabric print that is close to the same size. That includes the portion of the print you would like in your finished quilt block.


  • Loosley cut out the fabric piece about 1" larger on all sides than required.
  • Using a quilt ruler and pen (or a quilt ruler the same size as your required fabric piece) precisely cut your fabric.


  • If you do not have a quilt ruler the same size as your required piece. Use a fabric-safe marking pen and a standard quilt ruler to draw the dimensions on your fabric.
  • Ensure that you account for a 1/4" seam allowance as you measure and cut. 1/4" of the piece on all sides will be inside the seam and not shown in the final product.
  • If you are cutting multiple pieces of fabric that will be next to each other in the finished block, consider how the pieces will "interact" with each other when sewn. You may be able to create a secondary pattern in your block as well.
  • If you want to get an idea of what portion of your fabric you should cut. Cut a square the same size as your fabric piece from the center of a piece of plain white cardstock. Then use the hole in the cardstock as a "window" to audition portions of the fabric to cut.
Love this tutorial? Get the behind the scenes on Instagram

Simple Patchwork Quilt with Squares Fussy Cut From a Quilt Panel

Video Instructions

Most of the quilt along is being hosted on Instagram. I recorded a few short videos and shared them on my stories this week. I’ve edited them together into a video (I had to crop them a bit since Instagram videos are vertical) to give you a good idea of how I like to fussy cut my fabrics.

Project For Fussy Cut Fabrics

We have quite a few free projects and patterns on our site that feature fussy cut fabrics. Here are just a few of them.

Postage Stamp Pillow

Postage Stamp Pillow. This pillow designed by Sarah Ashford features LOADS of cute fussy cut postage stamps. This project is a great way to use up fabric scraps and feature some of your favorite fabric illustrations.

quilt as you go patchwork pillow

Quilt as you Go, Pillow. Sarah designed another great project. This pillow features precisely cut mermaids and a fun improv style piecing method.

A free no math polaroid quilt block tutorial. Learn how to make polaroid quilt blocks in any size - with no math required!

These Polaroid quilt blocks are the perfect way to show off some of your favorite novelty prints. All of the centers are fussy cut allowing you to tell a fun story in your finished project.

In this Party Hat Quilt, the Hats were each fussy cut to show off a portion of my Chloe & Friends fabric collection. The triangle shape gives you additional options for fussy cutting your fabrics. Some of the pom poms on the top of the hats were fussy cut as well.

Spooky Sampler Quilt Along Schedule

This is week one of the quilt along. I’ll link up all of the posts as we go! Blog posts will be on Wednesdays from now on. Instagram story tutorials will continue on Tuesdays.

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