Fussy Cutting Fabric Requirements – Part 1

Fussy Cutting with Inklingo

If you have been following the blog, you know that there are two methods of fussy cutting with Inklingo.

  1. Traditional Templates (Making “Swiss cheese” of the fabric.)
  2. No Waste Fussy Cutting (Printing identical sheets of fabric.)


If you are willing to do some plain arithmetic, you can buy exactly what you need and not be surprised by too much or not enough.

Some surprises are fun. Some aren’t.

This article is long, so I am breaking it into two or three parts. I hope all the detail will be especially helpful to quilt shop employees and teachers.

Inklingo On-Point Star Quilt

Sample Inklingo Quilt (84 x 84 inches)

My example uses the free Inklingo Diamond Triangle Square shape collection for the stars and Inklingo On-Point Triangles for 4.5 inch Squares.

How much fabric do we need to fussy cut all of the gold stars to get kaleidoscope stars?

Window Template and Freezer Paper Template


With Inklingo you can print window templates and FP templates without seam allowances, so there is no need to buy acrylic templates. (Probably better for the planet.)

This method works well when you don’t have enough fabric to print identical sheets. There are examples on the blog:

However, this is not a good alternative if you want 144 sets of 8 identical diamonds.

Unfortunately, the 3 traditional approaches for determining fabric requirements with the Swiss cheese method seem to be:

  1. Buy it all and check other quilt shops and online for more.
  2. Buy as much as you can afford.
  3. Let the amount of fabric you have determine the size of the quilt.

Easy, eh? If you plan to make Swiss cheese of the fabric, you just need to buy as much as you can.

Ten or twelve yards might not be enough—and you won’t know until you try.

The only alternative is to unfold the fabric at the shop and count sets of 8 identical shapes. That might work if you only need a fat quarter or a half yard of a particular fabric but even then it can be tricky because cutting one flower might make the surrounding designs useless because it doesn’t leave enough seam allowance. Count, but buy extra if you can!

For this method, no arithmetic is required. . . as long as you don’t mind surprises.

Fussy Cutting Arithmetic

With simple arithmetic (sometimes lots of arithmetic, but all simple multiplying and dividing) you can determine exactly what you need for No Waste Fussy Cutting. If you are uncomfortable with multiplying by 12 and dividing by 36 in your head, use a calculator.

Before you leave home.

Monkey’s Cheat Sheet is perfect for staying organized.

  1. How many identical diamonds for each star?  8
  2. How many stars?  144
    You can see how simple it was to determine the number of stars when I prepared Monkey’s Cheat Sheet for a blue variation of this quilt. (12 rows of 12 stars. Easy peasy.)
    (Example of Monkey’s Cheat Sheet.)
  3. Print to take with you:
    1. Extra copy of Monkey’s Cheat Sheet
    2. Window Template, so you can preview fabric. (I carry mine in a plastic sheet protector.)
    3. Suggested Custom Page Sizes
    For Diamond Layout A, print page 47 of the shape collection (Catalogue of Shapes).

Suggested Custom Page Sizes for Diamonds

I need a lot of diamonds. The Suggested Custom Page Sizes on page 47 (above) show me that I would like to print 25 diamonds at a time, 7.75 x 11.5, if possible.

This tells me that a pretty fabric with a 12-inch repeat would be a lucky find.

Let’s shop!

Inklingo Window Template

At the Quilt Shop

1. Preview fabrics with your window template to see whether the scale is suitable.

The great big flowers in this fabric make wonderful kaleidoscopes when cut into small diamonds. I might not have been able to see it without my window template.

In a nutshell, look for “busy” fabrics without big empty spaces or a lot of background. Choosing fabric for No Waste Fussy Cutting is similar to Stack n Whack™, One Block Wonder, and other Kaleidoscope methods.

Measure the repeat.

2. Measure the repeat in the design.
Common repeats are 12, 18, and 24 inches. Measure parallel to the selvage from one motif to the next identical motif.

This fabric is one of my favorites. It has a 12-inch repeat, which is common. Even after the fabric shrinks, I will have enough for a sheet of 25 diamonds (7.75 x 11.5) in each repeat, as illustrated below. PERFECT.

After washing, a 12-inch repeat is often only about 11 5/8 (11.625). There will be very little waste.

Now that I have chosen a fabric with a 12-inch repeat, how much should I buy?

Print 8 identical sheets of diamonds

To get 8 identical sheets, I will need to buy 8 repeats of 12 inches each, measured along the selvage. Arithmetic: 12 x 8 = 96 inches and 96 divided by 36 = 2.66 yards.

The diamonds in the positions marked * will all be identical, so those 8 diamonds will make a fabulous kaleidoscope star.

Print identical sheets of fabric.

Since each sheet of FP/fabric will be 7.75 inches wide, I can fit 5 across the width of the fabric because the fabric is 40-42 inches wide without selvages. Arithmetic: 7.75 x 5 = 38.75.

Staggered start

I prefer a staggered start (above). If you don’t stagger, you might end up with too little variation in the sets of diamonds because of the repeat across the width of the fabric. Round up from 2.66 to at least 2.75 or 3 yards. Let’s say 3 yards.

You may want to allow for 9 repeats, as described in Part 2 of this tutorial.


So far, we have allowed for 8 sheets x 5 sheets across. Arithmetic: 8 x 5 = 40 sheets of 25 diamonds each and 40 x 25 = 1000.

However, Monkey’s Cheat Sheet tells us we need 1152 diamonds. Arithmetic: 8 x 144 stars = 1152, so we need 152 more diamonds for 19 more stars.

152 diamonds require 8 identical sheets of 19 diamonds. There is no way to print only 19 diamonds at a time, so I will print 20 at a time on sheets 6.25 x 11.5. This is not one of the suggested Custom Page Sizes on page 47, but it is one row narrower than printing 25 at a time.


Option # 1
Double the yardage (3 x 2 = 6 yards) and print one row of sheets along the selvage of the next 3 yards too. In this case, you will have lots of fabric (approx 32 x 108) to use on the back or for binding or for your stash.

This is probably what I would do if I really love the fabric.

Option # 2
Make the other 19 stars without fussy cutting (no kaleidoscope effect), and just buy enough for 8 more sheets of 20 diamonds.

8 more sheets require 24 inches (diagram above). Arithmetic: 24 divided by 36 = 0.66 yards, round up to 0.75 yards.

The total yardage for diamonds is therefore 3.75 yards. Arithmetic: 3 + 0.75 = 3.75.

This is a good solution if you cannot do Option # 1, either because of the expense or because there is only 3.75 yards left on the bolt.

Modified Inklingo Star Quilt

Option # 3
Modify the quilt layout so 20 of the stars would be from a different fabric (red stars, above). You might even like the modified design better!

Option # 4
Examine the repeat ACROSS the fabric for the remaining 19 stars. The repeat in the design that we normally rely upon is the one parallel to the selvage, but designs also repeat across the width of the fabric.

The design at the selvage might be repeated 2, 3, or more times in the same 12-inch strip across the width of the fabric. If you can find 3 repeats across, for 8 sheets you would need 3 more repeats (12 x 3) to get 8 or 9 identical sheets of 20 diamonds.

Seeing the repeat across the width of the fabric can be tricky, so ask someone at the quilt shop to help.


That is a lot of info already, but we have more tips to share that give you more options when you are determining how much fabric to buy, so please stay tuned.

In the meantime, you might enjoy these articles too.

Fussy Cutting is a hot topic!

Inklingo No Waste Fussy Cutting for 6 pointed Stars!


Part 2 of this tutorial also discusses how to determine yardage requirements for other shapes, like 6-pointed stars and Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses (POTC).

Please subscribe (top of the right sidebar), so you don’t miss what is coming next! If you follow Inkingo on Facebook you might even get a sneak peek.

Thank you for visiting.

Linda & Monkey

New to Inklingo? Order and download free shapes and start sewing in the next few minutes. Quick Start (Always FREE.) There are triangles, diamonds, and squares in the free collection—great for dozens of different blocks.

Inklingo for Beginners

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7 thoughts on “Fussy Cutting Fabric Requirements – Part 1”

  1. Hi Linda,
    What a great tutorial….and it couldn’t be more timely. As you know I am doing quite a bit of fussy cutting these days and your tips are wonderful and so very helpful. Sure makes it a lot easier to plan and figure yardage. Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge and techniques with us. I just love Inklingo. Hugs to you and Monkey,
    Betsy in Massachusetts

  2. Hi Ellen,
    Thank you for writing. I am delighted that you like my quilts.
    I buy my fabric almost exclusively at local quilt shops. If you are new to quilting, I would strongly recommend taking a class at your local shop. There are several online shops too, if your local shop doesn`t offer beginner classes.
    You can order and download the FREE Inklingo shape collection from this link.
    The 3 key ideas that make Inklingo work are explained in the Quick Start Guide under the Support & Goodies tab on the website.
    The easiest way to start printing on fabric is to follow the step by step example using the free Diamond/Triangles/Square shape collection.
    For particular questions like printing on small scraps, how to avoid jams, or printing on dark fabric, there are lessons on the blog, which I have collected under the tab “Top Ten Tutes.” The blog is also searchable.
    I hope you will print a sheet of fabric with free shapes today. I often hear from quilters who say they were “over-thinking it” and wish they had just started printing sooner.
    I hope you have a wonderful weekend with time to learn about quilting.
    Hugs, Linda & Monkey in Canada

  3. Wow! I love your tips, especially about staggering the FP sheets, and alternating with non-kaleidoscopic stars a bit! This will add a lot of visual interest. Thank you!

  4. Hi Ellen,
    I’m sure Linda will respond shortly, but it’s good to see you found this amazing site! To find the pattern for this free collection, just click on the Heart at the top of the page (right side), then pick Shop & Freebies. You can download the free collection and make this from any fabric you have right way! Tonight! I hope you will.

    Linda has such beautiful things here… look around. Watch the videos. They will astound and inspire you!

  5. HI Linda,
    I have not earthly idea what you are talking about. I am new to quilting but I would sure like to learn this if you can tell me where you find the beautiful material. Some of the things I have seen I would love to make but I am a visual person and when I see it I want mine to look like it. The material you have I l could never find here since we only have a couple of small quilt shops and they don’t carry much material, other than that Jo Ann’s . I tried to find where to click so I could get your publications without you paying but I didn’t find anything. Any suggestions? Thanks for all your help. You have absolutely beautiful quilts.

  6. WOW, have you been BUSY! No wonder you had to take those breaks to rake leaves! Your head had to have been spinning, carrying all these details around in it, incubating your thoughts and figuring out how to put all this into a clear and easy-to-follow tutorial in actual English, for those of us who don’t speak Mathology very well! Terrific job, Linda. Once again, you’ve taken a whole lot of the work out of this task and made it simpler for us! Thanks so much!


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