You have probably heard of the term “fussy cutting,” particularly in reference to quilts. That is when a particular design on the fabric is strategically placed so that, when cut and stitched, it is perfectly displayed within the pieced block.

Designs By JuJu Fussy Cut Bird Heart

By its very nature, fussy cutting is an ideal way to present fabric pieces in applique embroidery. The Birds of a Feather design is a perfect example. Swirls on the head and paisley on the wing add so much character to this sweet songster. And what could be more perfect than the word “love,” already printed on fabric, centered in an applique heart?

Designs By JuJu Sailboat Flower Fussy

The heart, oval, and flower are part of the Itty Bitty Applique Patches set. Having the fabric focal point, like the sail boat and flower, centered in the applique frame adds a professional looking finish.

Designs By JuJu Fussy 666

Sometimes, all you want is to have straight stripes or wording on specialty fabric that is readable in the design, like these two examples from the Cute Umbrella Critters set. If you cannot read “meow,” the words in the cat’s umbrella might just as well be backwards. Coordinating variegated thread finishes the hippo’s umbrella nicely but it would not be nearly as cute if the stripes were crooked.

So how do you create successful fussy-cut embroidery? You could eyeball it, but if you want perfectly placed prints in applique, the best way is to use a template.

Fussy cut templates are patterns of the actual applique piece that can be traced. Specifically, the placement stitch area replicates the shape and size of the actual applique.

Templates can be made from clear plastic or cardstock. They can be created two ways: with a needle and with a printer.

With a program like Embrilliance, you can print a template of your applique design. Trace it on template plastic, and you have a clear pattern that can be moved over fabric allowing the fabric design to show through. When your fabric shows just as you like, trace around the template and cut it out for use in your design.

If you do not have editing software to print a design template, you can “stitch” one. Hoop a layer of light-weight tear-away stabilizer. Cut a piece of cardstock to the size of the hoop and spray temporary adhesive on the back. Finger press it in the hoop and run the placement stitch sequence without thread. The needle perforates the cardboard in the shape of the applique piece. Trim it with scissors and you have a template to trace your applique shape on fabric.