Blue Monday
a Trail of Breadcrumbs to an Answer from the Universe

Use Your Stuff Challenge #5: Fussy Cuts

I think much has been written about a commonly disliked word, moist. People seem to have visceral responses to it, perhaps because it is so ickily onomatopoeic. I can see the dislike, but the word that makes me feel naseous is  lorazapam. I can't explain why, other than it should end with an N instead of an M, and when I hear (or read) that word, it sounds in my head like it's said by a dehydrated person (usually my mother, oddly enough) who has those white crusties on her lips.

Hey. I never claimed I was normal.

Another term I don't really like is "fussy cut." It sounds so...nasal. Precise and uptight and old fashioned. But, alas, despite my disaffection for the term itself, it is a useful one. It originated in quilting and refers to the process of cutting fabrics (usually with large or remarkable patterns or images) in a specific way so as to show off as much of the image/pattern as possible, rather than just randomly cutting it as it falls under your ruler. Sometimes this means you try to fit an entire motif within a square, or that you make sure that, say, one specific leaf always falls in the same corner.

You can do the same thing in scrapbooking.

But instead of where the pattern/image/motif falls in a square or a triangle as with quilting, in scrapbooking, to "fussy cut" means to cut around the shape/image/motif. It is an awesome (albeit a little time-consuming) way to use papers with large patterns or shapes, because you get the feel of the patterned paper (the texture, colors, and design) added with flexibility (you can toss the cut-out shapes where ever you want instead of being constrained by how they are printed on the paper).

The most important thing to remember about fussy cutting: use a sharp and small pair of scissors. I have a tiny pair of Gingher spring scissors which are supposed to be used for snipping threads but which I use for fussy cutting. (I know: those of you who sew or who had moms who sewed are right now thinking "don't you ever, ever cut paper using my good sewing scissors," quite possibly in your mother's voice, but it's OK because the cool thing about good sewing scissors is that you can have them sharpened!)

And, another secret for smooth cuts: keep the tension consistent. That means that the hand holding your patterned paper should pull on the paper a little bit, away from the scissors.

Also! If you want to use the back of the paper you're fussy cutting (for, say, printing your journaling, or some other kind of embellishment, or for a card, or for, well, whatever), try cutting the images on the outer edges of the paper.

(Funny story: I used to love cutting into my mom's fabric stash when I was a kid. I'd cut a chunk out of something pretty and use it as a blanket for my baby doll or maybe a skirt for a Barbie if I was playing with Becky, or I'd just cut it because it was pretty and I wanted to look at it. I imagine I frustrated her quite often when she retrieved her fabric to start working on the intended project and found an ameba-shaped hole in the middle. Finally she taught me that if I wanted to cut off some fabric I could only do it from the edge, which was hardly as much fun.)

Oh, and one more: if you are going to be putting your fussy-cut pieces underneath other things, you can use the shapes on the edges of the paper by tucking the missing part under. (You don't, in other words, always have to have an entire image; you can just use part of it.) Or, you can cut one larger piece in half with a similar outcome.

So! Today's challenge is a simple one:

Create a layout using some patterned paper you can fussy cut.

Here's what I mean:

Amy Sorensen Fussy Cut

I confess: this wasn't the speediest layout to make. It took awhile to cut out all those flowers. But I love the way it turned out!

Tell me: are you a fan of fussy cutting, whether in quilting or in scrapbooking?



I am a fan of fussy cutting. However, I cheat since I own a Silhouette Cameo. That means I decide on a size, general cut around the fussy cut part/piece, then use the Cameo to fine cut the shape/length.

Today, the printer and the Cameo got a heavy workout as I am in a Pay It Forward and I wanted to use some Washi tape, do some lettering, make some journal cards and some tags that have embellies to go with.

Jill B

While reading, I heard my mothers voice saying "not the pinking shears, dear" ha! Loved the post today, it is all the special anecdotes that you put in for our enjoyment. Thanks.

Jill B

By the way, I really like the "fussy cut" page. It is a great color combination, as well as layout. Thanks again.


Ha ha that I made you play Barbies!! I did love me some Barbies. And yeah, I was guilty of cutting-from-the-middle and cutting paper with the good scissors. I say the same thing to my kids. It's a big circle. :)

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