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Fat Quarters: The Original Precut

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Tips, Ideas, Patterns, and more by the crew at Bernina Sewing & Design

 

Fat Quarters: The Original Precut

Marsha Cowan

One of the first strange terms you hear when you start quilting is “fat quarter.” What the heck is that, you wonder? A special coin minted for quilters? An extra-big slice of pie? We’d be happy with both of those, but they’re not as useful and versatile for stash building as the kind offat quarter we’re talking about.

Precuts are pieces of fabric already cut by a manufacturer or a store into sizes that make them very user-friendly to quilters. In general, precuts come in the following categories: fat quarters, 10” squares, 5” charm squares, 2-1/2” mini-charms, and 2-1/2” and 1-1/2” strip packs.  Some more unusual precuts are fat eighths, and hexagons in various sizes. All styles ofprecuts may come bundled together, and some fabric companies have their own trademarked names for them. Moda Fabrics calls their bundles of 10” squares Layer Cakes; their 2-1/2” strip sets are Jelly Rolls; their 1-1/2” strip bundles are Honey Buns; and their 6” hexagons are Honey Combs.  (We plan to talk about all these marvelous precuts in future posts!)

A quick search online didn’t reveal anything useful about the appearance of the precut fat quarter in fabric stores, so we asked the Bernina Babes when they first remembered seeing them. The late 80’s to early 90’s is the Babes’ best guess. Not that long ago, really! Unless you’re a teenager, and then it’s forever.

A typical yard of quilting fabric is 42-44” wide. If you cut a quarter yard from this, you will have a long strip.  This quarter yard of fabric will measure 9” x 42”-44”.  Remember, depending on the width of individual bolts, the length number will change.

A fat quarter is approximately 18” x 22”.  Depending on WOF, it may be 21”, or whatever half the WOF is.  Since you’re all super smart quilters, you see what they did there! A quarter yard of fabric and a fat quarter each have the same amount of fabric in square inches—it’s just laid out differently.

Fat quarters are very useful for doing appliqué, for buying a manageable piece of a fabric you love when you aren’t sure what to do with it, and for using in one of the many quilt, purse, or accessory patterns that are fat quarter friendly.

So, enjoy the versatility of this quilter-friendly precut, and as always,

Happy Stitching!