Monday, May 03, 2021

What is a Fat Quarter?

What is a Fat Quarter?

Have you heard someone refer to a "Fat Quarter" and wasn't sure what they were talking about?  Well, along with a couple of other Quilting Terms,  Fat Quarters came about as a great marketing tool for selling more fabric.  

A fat quarter of fabric is a one-fourth yard cut that usually measures 18" x 22"*. To create a fat quarter, cut a half-yard of fabric, 18" ​along the fabric's lengthwise grain, then cut that piece in half at its midpoint as illustrated..   Fat quarters are sold individually or packaged in a bundle.

*The longest side's dimension sometimes varies because some quilting fabrics are not 44" wide.

Why Use A Fat Quarter?

American Gathering Fat Quarters by Primitive Gathering
If you are a new (or seasoned) quilter, you like fabric.  You like color. You like variety. Rather than purchasing yardage of a few fabrics, it is now possible to obtain a wider variety of prints (or solids) by purchasing fat quarters individually or a bundle. Look at the variety of fabrics shown in the bundle (same fabrics from the photo at the top of the page).  You would drive your local quilt shop (LQS) person crazy to cut a quarter yard from each fabric.  In addition, they might not have all the fabrics in stock.**

How to Create a Fat Quarter

From a length of fabric, cut 18" from selvage to selvage ***.  This chunk of fabric is then cut into two pieces, approx. 18" x 22".  But, hey!.  Don't make your own, Our local quilt shops (LQS) have bundles available with either the entire line, or partial lines available.  Be sure to support your LQS.  Especially, since COVID has reduced the number of folks  shopping locally and more shopping online.

OK, a yard of fabric is approximately 36" by 40".  A half yard is 18" x 40".  That is a wide strip of fabric 18" by 40".  A fat quarter is that 18" x HALF the WOF, giving you a FAT Quarter which is approx 18" by 20".   

Most quilt shops offer fat quarters.  They might be prices a little bit higher than a straight yardage price,  keep in mind that it takes time to create and market these smaller pieces of fabric. Just keep in mind; are you looking for 'quantity' in your scraps?  If so, fat quarters or fat quarter bundles may be your choice when purchasing fabrics.

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** Many smaller quilt shops do not purchase the entire line of of fabrics.  At some quilt shops, when a line of fabric comes in, they cut a yard (or more) off and cut into fat quarters. 

*** The width of fabric today runs anywhere from 40" to 44" (and if really lucky  - 45").  This width includes the selvages which may or may not be usable fabric.

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