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What is a Fat Quarter?

This post is for anyone out there who has heard or seen the title “Fat Quarter” and wondered what the heck it was, but felt too sheepish to ask. No worries – I was once one of you! And there are way more of us out there that are/were in the same boat. So I’m here as your friend to get you in on the down low.  Because I love brand new quilters!

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

Notting Hill Collection

Craft stores, fabric stores, and quilt stores all carry pre-cut pieces of fabric called Fat Quarters.  Usually they’re folded nicely as individual pieces or tied up together into pretty coordinating bundles. Pre-cut individual or bundled Fat Quarters make for easier grab-and-go shopping without having to wait for a shop worker to cut yardage off of a bolt.

 

What is a Fat Quarter?

But what are they and why are they so popular?

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

A Fat Quarter is a quarter of a yard of fabric, but it is cut in a different shape than a regular quarter yard of fabric.  When cutting a quarter yard of fabric off the bolt, you are getting a piece 9″ wide x the width of the fabric (around 42″-43″.) Four of these cuts, create a yard.  

A Fat Quarter is a piece of fabric cut 18″ off the end of the bolt, and then cut in half on the fold.  Four of these put together still make up 1 yard of fabric.  Imagine a piece of paper cut into four equal horizontal strips compared to a piece cut once horizontally and once vertically to get four equal square-ish pieces.

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

One is not better than the other but one size might be more useful depending on the pieces needed for a particular pattern. For example, if you are using a pattern with strip piecing, or you want to cut a quilt binding from that fabric, a regular quarter of a yard would be preferable because you would get longer strips and have less piecing to do.

Also, say you want to cut a bunch of 4 1/2″ squares.  You will get 18 squares from a regular quarter of a yard, but you will only get 16 squares from a FQ.

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

But a Fat Quarter shape comes in handy for other projects where you need a wider surface area in stead of a long skinny length, like a bag or something where you need a larger shape like the circles on this Monogram quilt.

Here are a few more beginner-friendly sewing and quilting projects perfect for using up Fat Quarters:

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

Easy Fat Quarter Bag

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

Drawstring Fat Quarter BagWhat is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

This Fast and Easy Fat Quarter Quilt is is perfect for beginners or making quick work of a stack of Fat Quarters.

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

DIY Notebook Cover Tutorial from Crazy Little Projects

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

Fat Quarter Basket Tutorial from Delia Creates

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

Easy (elastic waistband) Fat Quarter Skirt tutorial

Two of my most popular Fat-Quarter-Friendly (and beginner-friendly) patterns include the Craftsman Quilt and the Summer Bunting Quilt.

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

Craftsman pattern available here in PDF or Paper versions

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a Quilter

Summer Bunting pattern available here in PDF and Paper versions.

If you’re looking for lots more quilts and project ideas for using Fat Quarters, check out my Fat Quarter Pinboard on Pinterest.

So there you go.  Now you can consume fabric with confidence.

What is a Fat Quarter? - info featured by top US quilting blog, Dairy of a QuilterHere are a few other posts about Quilt-Language Basics:

What other questions do you have about quilting terms or processes?

I’m putting together a list of “Quilting Language for Beginners.” Is there anything you wish someone would have explained for you but felt too silly to ask?

Leave a comment with any suggestions!

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Pati @ A Crafty Escape
    July 22, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I am taking my first quilting class next week and was looking over the supplies list wondering about this just yesterday! Thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    Denise :)
    July 22, 2010 at 6:11 am

    Great job, taking on this alarming question! (And you're right — we all wondered at one point or another!) 🙂

  • Reply
    Quilt Hollow
    July 22, 2010 at 7:42 am

    …and here I thought it was a body part! Hee!!

  • Reply
    Just-Do
    July 23, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Thanks. Over here in Holland we use different measures, so all talking about yards and inches is abacadabra for me anyway.

  • Reply
    patchworkdelights
    July 23, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Thanks for clearing that up, I know the term &quot;fat quarter&quot; and have bought &quot;fat quarters&quot; but your explanation has lifted the clouds! <br /><br />Very helpful and useful, thanks again.<br /><br />Fi

  • Reply
    AnneMarie
    July 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Nice! Sometimes the basics are so refreshing.

  • Reply
    Gina
    July 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    My husband can&#39;t ever remember the right name and always calls them &quot;fat chubs.&quot; It&#39;s funny the first few times. 🙂

  • Reply
    elizabeth
    July 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    As a newbie, THANK YOU! All I know about quilting material terminology is that it makes me hungry! Jelly rolls! Honey buns! :o)

  • Reply
    Gmama Jane
    November 25, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    You have finally SHOWN me the difference in the two. Seeing both side by side allowed me to see the difference and which one to choose for different projects.<br />Thanks<br />Gmama Jane

  • Reply
    Nikki
    June 9, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Reply
    cristina maria
    January 26, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Olá Amy!<br />Demorei um pouco para entender como usar as medidas americanas. aqui no Brasil usamos o metro ao comprarmos tecidos. E para entender tenho uma régua com a qual posso seguir as medidas dos tutorias.<br />Obrigada pela explicação!

  • Reply
    mbk
    March 4, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Amy.<br />How many jelly rolls make a quilt? When you buy a fat quarter how many make a quilt?<br /><br />mbk

    • Reply
      amy smart
      March 4, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      Depends on the pattern, how many seams, if you&#39;re adding additional yardage, etc. I would say you could make a throw/twin using two jelly rolls probably. As for Fat Quarters, there is a pattern called Turning Twenty (http://www.amazon.com/Turning-Twenty-Tricia-Cribbs/dp/B000GQQYFIa0) that is a large throw/small twin made from Twenty FQ&#39;s. Most larger quilts probably require around 25 FQ&

  • Reply
    Easy Fat Quarter Bag Tutorial - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
    October 17, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    […] bag uses the equivalent of one Fat Quarter + 1/8th of a yard (or scraps) for the handle. (You could also use sturdy ribbon as […]

  • Reply
    Easy Fat Quarter Drawstring Bag Tutorial - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
    April 17, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    […] creative sewing projects, perfect for light summer sewing, all using one of those fabric staples: Fat Quarters. (Are you wondering what is a Fat Quarter? This will explain!) Fat Quarters are such a great way […]

  • Reply
    Pat Wahl
    June 12, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    What or who is Jack the Ripper?

  • Reply
    Jane Sprague
    June 12, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    I’m so glad you’re providing an explanation of quilting terms, Amy. When I was first teaching myself how to quilt, I was one of those “sheepish” folks who figured if I was going to quilt, I should know the terms … except I didn’t. I only learned them by trial and error and lots of “Aha! Now I know what they’re talking about!” moments. When I learned the terms, I felt like I was becoming a real, live quilter! Thank you so much for making that process so much easier and understandable!!

  • Reply
    Sarah Craig
    June 12, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    I know that when I am working with new quilters, the “lingo” is what strikes fear in their hearts – kind of like it used to be ordering coffee in Seattle before Starbucks became common across the US! Terms like WOF, WIP, UFO, postage stamp quilt, quilt-along, D9P, HST, etc. and then there are the fun ones like FART! Much of the time new quilters are afraid to look dumb by asking what we mean by those terms, and just quit.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    June 12, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    scant 1/4 inch seam
    explain the pinked edges of precuts
    leaders and enders
    “weight” of thread
    pressing vs ironing
    setting your seam
    “value” of fabric colours
    chain piecing

    🙂

  • Reply
    Theresa Annesser
    June 12, 2021 at 8:07 pm

    Terms to go over: Quilt sandwich.

  • Reply
    JaneH1
    June 13, 2021 at 12:11 am

    Having worked in a fabric store, I wholeheartedly support your series on precuts terminology. So many customers, young and old, asked for help with jelly rolls, cakes, and charms. Spreading knowledge is great!

    Thanks for keeping your blog really down to earth!

  • Reply
    Donna Sproston
    June 13, 2021 at 5:15 am

    When do you starch, and how do you get rid of the starch once the piece is finished? I might wash a quilt, but I typically do not wash table runners before I gift them. Thank you for your helpful posts!

  • Reply
    Terry Helms
    June 13, 2021 at 9:15 am

    My sister took a class to make round trivets, and they didn’t show her how to cut a bias strip for the outside edge. She struggled numerous times trying to get a cross grain cut to work. When to use and how to cut bias is helpful even for seasoned quilters. Also, the need for cutting some squares twice on the diagonal and only once on the diagonal for setting triangles.

  • Reply
    Helen
    June 13, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Hi Amy,

    Loved your explanation and examples, etc. of Fat Quarters and other cuts. Wish someone had told me this when I was trying to find out what it was all about!

  • Reply
    Ros
    June 13, 2021 at 11:39 am

    I think a post about all of the crazy baking terms we use in Quilting would be fabulous!… Jelly roll, charm square, layer cake, sticky bun roll…

  • Reply
    Terry L Blair
    June 20, 2021 at 10:36 am

    Thanks for the great patterns. The material is lovely

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