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!
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?
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.
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 ½″ squares. You will get 18 squares from a regular quarter of a yard, but you will only get 16 squares from a FQ.
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:
This Fast and Easy Fat Quarter Quilt is is perfect for beginners or making quick work of a stack of Fat Quarters.
DIY Notebook Cover Tutorial from Crazy Little Projects
Fat Quarter Basket Tutorial from Delia Creates
Two of my most popular Fat-Quarter-Friendly (and beginner-friendly) patterns include the Craftsman Quilt and the Summer Bunting Quilt.
Craftsman pattern available here in PDF or Paper versions
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.
Here are a few other posts about Quilt-Language Basics:
What’s a Scant ¼″ Seam Allowance?
And if you’re ready to make your first quilt, check out the Beginner’s Quilting Series Here
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!