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What are Fat Quarters?

If you're just getting started, you might be wondering, "What are fat quarters in sewing and quilting?" This page will teach you all about them!

By: Frances Seda for AllFreeSewing.com
Updated April 27, 2020
What are Fat Quarters

While shopping at your local craft store or fabric shop you may have come across small bundles of fabric grouped together in coordinated patterns or colors.

You may overlook them thinking that they are some sort of novelty, but, these bundles, known as Fat Quarters, are perfect for making quilts or other fun projects.

Exactly what are fat quarters? This quick fabric guide will go over what this fabric type involves, from fat quarter measurement, how they are used, and how they are packaged for sale.

As a bonus, we're sharing a few of our favorite fat quarter sewing patterns. So, if you're a beginner sewist or quilter, be sure to read this page before hitting the fabric store or starting your first big project. You will be glad you did!
 

What is a Fat Quarter Exactly?

A fat quarter is a quarter yard of fabric that is cut differently than the typical quarter yard. It's one of the types of precut fabrics that are available for purchase rather than getting fabric cut to order.

Other precuts include charm packs, jelly rolls, layer cakes, and others. Learn more about precuts and download your own Precut Sizes Guide PDF (shown below) at Seams and Scissors's page, How to Use Your Precuts.

Precut Sizes Guide

Fat Quarter Size and How to Cut Them

To cut a fat quarter, you first cut a yard of fabric, normally measuring 36”x44”, in half lengthwise, which will give you two pieces of fabric measuring 18”x44”. You then cut these two pieces in half widthwise and you end up with four pieces of fabric each measuring 18”x22”. These are the dimensions of a fat quarter of fabric.

Typically, a yard of fabric is cut to measure 9”x44”. Doing some quick calculations the area of both of these pieces will be 396 so you are getting the same amount of fabric in both, but, they are just shaped differently.

A fat quarter will resemble more a of square whereas your typical quarter of fabric will be shaped more like a rectangle. So, why does it matter?

Riley Blake Sweet Stems Fat Quarter Collection

Fat Quarters Are Ideal for Quilters

If you are a quilter fat quarters are ideal. Fat quarters can be cut into different sized squares. While you can also do this with a piece of fabric cut into a typical quarter, the downfall is that you won’t get as many squares.

With a fat quarter, you can cut six 6.5” squares, nine 6” squares, twelve 5” or 5.5” squares, and so forth. If you are working on a decent sized quilt being able to get so many squares from a piece of fabric is great. It cuts down on waste, and, since fat quarters are sold in coordinating patterns and/or color bundles it’s easy to construct an eye-catching quilt.

One fantastic example of fat quarter use in quilts is the lovely Easy Peasy Fat Quarter Quilt that's shown below.

Easy Peasy Fat Quarter Quilt

Fat Quarters Are Also Great For Other Projects

While Fat Quarters are great for quilters, there are numerous other projects that can be created with them by non-quilters. For around the house, they are great for making two-sided accent/throw pillows, custom placemats, or pieced together to make a unique table runner.

You could also make a stack of baby bibs or sew a few different patterns together to create a cute skirt for yourself or a dress for a baby or toddler. They are even great for making headbands, cosmetic pouches, or pencil cases.

Or, you could spruce up a home office or craft room with a fabric-covered bulletin board, like the Cork Board Makeover Tutorial shown below. As you can see, the possibilities are endless. 

Cork Board Makeover Tutorial

As a bonus, fat quarters are easy to fold and store, which makes keeping them on-hand easy. Be warned, though, it can be addictive to collect all the cute bundles available in stores and online.

So, next time you are picking up some items at your local craft shop and you see these colorful bundles, why not pick up a pack and create something fun and original with them. Or, check out some online shops that are solely dedicated to selling these versatile fabric bundles.

BONUS! Our 10 Favorite Fat Quarter Patterns

Get started sewing with fat quarters today! We offer hundreds of free fat quarter sewing patterns on our site. To help you narrow it down, we're sharing our favorites below.

  1. Mail Organizer Tutorial
     
  2. Easiest Ever Embroidery Hoop Wall Art
     
  3. Fat Quarter Crafting Apron
     
  4. When You Wish....Baby Mat (shown below!)
     
  5. Peppy Scraps Penguin

When You Wish....Baby Mat

Up Next

More Fat Quarter Sewing Projects >>>

What's your favorite type of precut fabric?
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