Fussy cutting your English Paper Piecing – Tutorial

EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


With much ado, I finally present to you my own version of fussy cutting which I have been using on my La Passacaglia quilt these last few months. This way is probably not what most people would use, however I find it the simplest, most accurate and portable method which suits my own circumstances.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


Here are my fabrics for this tutorial – we are making a rosette with yellow/green undertones. I find these large scale geometric prints are the best for making an impact, particularly on the centre star. However, the Tula Pink on the left is not actually perfectly symmetrical – the rings on the circles change from one to the next, so to cut those accurately would require a lot of effort and wastage. I can assure you, fussy cutting DOES create waste. We call the fabric Swiss Cheese at the end for a very good reason.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


Here are several variations of the 5 point star – as demonstrated by my Sue Daley Fussy Cutting Mirror which, although a luxury was something that really sped up my process and took the guess work out of how a repeating pattern might look. Even when I am playing around with this view, I am focusing on several key aspects….


1 – what colour or part of the fabric do I want to feature in my finished star.

2 – how easy will it be to line these cuts up after I remove the template. I am looking for registration points, little spots that I can use to align my template for the 5 pieces I need to cut.

3 – are there any secondary patterns – flowers etc that I can create with the joining of these pieces. This adds a second layer of interest that will add to the finished piecing.

With those points in mind, choose your preferred layout and mentally mark your “registration points” where key elements intersect with the outer edges/points of the shape.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


Here in my example you can see where the white arcs come into each side point of the diamond (top and bottom arrows) and the right arrow which shows what will be the centre point of my star is perfectly centred between the white shapes. The left arrow points to the outer corner, which should also be centred over the aqua triangles.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


You can see my template has an inner line. This is where I will line these 4 points up. Remember that we are using the INNER diamond, the actual shape to align this. The outer seam allowance will point to completely different places.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


Now for the high-tech part of my method. A sharp pencil and a pair of scissors. I do not use a rotary cutter for these shapes, I find I like the portability and simplicity of doing it this way. For instance, I can trace a stack of shapes out and then sit on the lounge with the family and cut them out as we watch television. You can see above that a tiny amount of points are overlapped between each shape. As long as you are still left with a significant seam allowance (my preference is a generous 3/8″), a small amount of loss is easy to manage.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


After you have cut your diamonds out, you will see the identical nature of the fabric placement. This means you did it right!!


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


When positioning your paper for basting, look back at your registration points again –  I align the white arcs at the top onto the left and right edges, and make sure the top and bottom points sit centred between them. If you are in need of a good basting tutorial, my favourite is Sue Daley’s – HERE, basting is approximately 6 minutes in.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


Successful pattern placement means that your shapes will look basically identical from the top and the bottom, as you can see with my diamonds.


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


Of course, in the finished product I could still choose to stitch these in 2 directions. You will have to wait and see for which one I chose!


EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge EPP Fussy Cutting Tutorial - Cassandra Madge


If you don’t have a template window, for example I do not have a pentagon one, you can improvise using some sheets of white card and your acrylic cutting template. Here I have lined the card up on three edges of my INNER line (not the outer seam allowance) and then carefully placed the mirror on top of the final 2 edges of the pentagon. This will help me to choose the fussy cutting placement that I would like for the pentagon ring.


With these simple steps and techniques I have created the following ….


La Passacaglia sixth update - Cassandra Madge La Passacaglia fifth update - Cassandra Madge La Passacaglia - Cassandra Madge La Passacaglia fourth update - Cassandra Madge



Fussy cutting is all about attention to small details. You may not enjoy all the steps, but the finished result is so polished and effortless in appearance, you will not regret it.


I look forward to hearing from you – if you have any questions or if you want to share how this worked for you, let me know in the comments!


 Happy Crafting - Cassie.

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9 Responses

  1. Melissa (minniecat)

    Wow you have amazing ability and talent and explained it in a way that gave me encouragement/confidence to try it!

  2. Paula Bingham

    Is this a pattern that I can buy? Thank you for the tutorial. So nicely done. I love fussy cutting.

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