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Overcoming the fear of cutting quilt panels

Overcoming the fear of cutting quilt panels

by Christine Baker

Yesterday on QUILTsocial I showed you how to find a specific Northcott fabric using the Product Finder tool on their website. Today we’re going to look at different ways to cut up a quilt panel and we’ll start planning our Artisan Spirit City Scene project.

A quilt panel (almost) too beautiful to cut up!

We’ve all been there. You have a stunning fabric that you just can’t bear to cut, so it ends up finding it’s final resting spot folded up in your stash. But that’s no way to treat a beautiful fabric! It deserves to be used in a project that you’ll love!

The panel that comes with the Artisan Spirit City Scene line of fabric is one of those fabrics that you might just be afraid to cut. It’s BEAUTIFUL! It looks like a modern art oil painting of New York City.

Northcott's City Scene fabric line has a beautiful panel that looks like an oil painting.

City Scene panel

Panels are great to use to make a quick and easy quilt project. You can just add a couple borders and you’re good to go!

But I want to be a bit more creative this week, so I’ve decided to cut up the panel. The only problem is, I was only sent ONE panel, so I’m a little afraid to mess it up!

Checking out the options

One great way to preview how a quilt will look before sewing, is to plan it out in a computerized quilt design program using images of the actual fabrics you want to use. On Monday I showed you how to download fabric images from the Northcott website and it’s these that I’m using today to try out different versions of my cut up panel quilt. Use any program with which you feel comfortable.

Version 1 – windowpanes

For this version I chopped the panel up into equally sized squares – about 10″ x 10″. I also cut up four 10″ squares each of fabric #21879-62 (which has the same coloring as the sky section in the panel) and fabric #21874-64 (which looks much like the bottom section of the panel). By adding sashing in between these squares, the resulting quilt looks like a windowpane looking out over the city. By adding the fabric squares at the top and bottom, my panel appears to look even larger than it is!

One version of a quilt design created in EQ using Northcott's City Scene panel.

Quilt version 1

Version 2 – vertical sections

For this version I decided to cut the panel into four equal sections vertically and added darker blue sashing in between and as an inner border. I like the clean, simple lines that this produces. Using two different fabrics in the outer border makes it a bit more interesting.

A second version of a quilt design created in EQ using Northcott's City Scene panel.

Quilt version 2

Version 3 – horizontal sections

For this version, I cut the panel horizontally in equal sections and used a light gray for sashing and inner border. Again, I used two different colors in the outer border.

Quilt version 3

Quilt version 3

Version 4 – angular sections

For my final version, I wanted to see what the panel would look like if I cut it on different angles and sewed sashing strips in between the sections. Although sewing these sections back together would be more difficult than sewing square or rectangular sections, I think this is the version I’m going to model my project after!

I also LOVE how the striped fabric looks in the inner border, so I’m definitely going to be doing that in my project!

A fourth version of a quilt design created in EQ using Northcott's City Scene panel.

Quilt version 4

As you can see, there are many different ways that my Artisan Spirit City Scene panel can be cut before sewing it into my project. By trying these different versions out on my computer using digital images of the fabrics first, I’m much more relaxed about cutting a favorite fabric!

Join me tomorrow, when I’ll give you 2 great tips for sewing with directional fabrics. On Friday I’ll cut up that beautiful panel, and I’ll share some tips to help you to sew oddly shaped pieces of fabrics together. See you then!

This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Nail the perfect fabric for your next quilt project

Go to part 4: 2 favorite tips for sewing with directional fabric



Rebecca Toman August 30, 2022 - 9:04 am

In version 1, may I ask how wide and long you made the strips for the windowpanes? I so want to try this.

Christine Baker September 6, 2022 - 11:09 am

Hi Rebecca,
For that type of panel quilt, I would cut those sashing strips about 1 1/2″ wide x the height of the block – so 1 1/2″ x 10″ – this will result in strips that are 1″ wide in the finished quilt.
If you have an oversized panel, you might want to make the strips a bit wider.
Hope that helps,

Julie Averill October 5, 2017 - 2:53 pm

I love how version 2 looks.

Christine Baker October 5, 2017 - 8:33 pm

Thanks Julie!! It was fun to play with the panel 🙂

Cindy Watt September 8, 2017 - 1:55 am

I love how #4 feels like you are in the top of the Statue of Liberty looking towards the city. Great job!

Christine Baker September 11, 2017 - 9:08 am

Thanks Cindy! I’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty, but we are planning a trip to NYC for this fall, so we’ll have to add that to our agenda!


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