Fabric shops sell many types of pre-cut material. These pieces of fabric can be sold independently or sold together in bundles. One common pre-cut piece of fabric is often called a fat quarter.
Fat quarters can be used for many purposes, but you should understand how large a fat quarter is before using it for your own needs.
In short, a fat quarter is a piece of material that’s cut from a yard of textiles. It’s 18 inches in length and 22 inches in width.
At first glance, a fat quarter may resemble a square, but it’s really a rectangle. You can normally purchase fat quarters that are already cut, though you can cut a piece yourself if you prefer.
We’ll cover more about fat quarters below, including what they are used for, and where their namesake originates from.
What Are Fat Quarters?
Fat quarters are a quarter of a yard of material. Textiles are usually sold at a width of 44 inches. A fat quarter is made by cutting the length of a yard and the width of textile in half.
A yard of fabric is sold at 36 inches in length. You can ask for your yard to be made into fat quarters.
This will reduce the fabric into equal pieces, cutting the yard in half crosswise. The residual fabric pieces are 18 inches in length, and 22 inches in width.
Where Does the Name ‘Fat Quarter’ Come From?
The word ‘quarter’ in fat quarter is due to the piece of fabric being a quarter of a yard of material. It’s referred to as fat as the piece is made bigger than a usual quarter yard of textiles.
Quarter fabric pieces are normally rectangular. Fat quarters are made into a rectangular form but are still bigger than a usual quarter piece of fabric.
The Number Of Fat Quarters In A Yard Of Fabric
A yard of fabric contains four fat quarters. If the pieces are cut accurately, each one of the four pieces should look like they are equally wide and long.
The pieces will look like they are square-shaped, as they have similar sides. However, two of the sides will be slightly longer than the other two.
Are Fat Quarters Cut To The Same Size?
Each fat quarter will have slightly different dimensions depending on where they are sold. Fabric tends to be 44 inches in width, but this may differ depending on the type of fabric and where it was made.
If the standard fabric roll had different dimensions to start with, a fat quarter’s measurements would differ from the norm.
A fat quarter’s measurements will also vary depending on the style of measurements used. If it was cut in a location that measures fabric in meters, the fat quarter would have a larger width.
A single meter is 1.09 yards, so the material cut would have been a little longer than a yard.
If the fabric was cut in a place that used the metric system, a fat quarter would equal a quarter of a meter, rather than a quarter of a yard.
Fat Quarter Vs A Quarter Yard Of Fabric
A standard quarter yard and a fat quarter have a few differences. They are both created from the same volume of material, but they will look like different shapes.
As mentioned previously, a fat quarter is sheared in half crosswise along the width and length of the fabric. This produces four equivalent square-shaped pieces, 18 inches long and 22 inches wide.
On the other hand, a quarter yard is made by cutting down the length of a material. Each piece will have a different length, but they’ll have the same width, as they were made from the original yard of material.
Shearing fabric into standard quarters will produce four parts 44 inches in width, but just 9 inches in length. These will be distinctly rectangular.
Fat Quarter Purposes
Fat quarters are normally used to make quilts. Compared to standard quarter yard pieces, fat quarters are easier to cut and produce, which is why they’re ideal for creating sampler quilts.
Creating fat quarters is ideal when making patterns of different quilt blocks. If they are cut accurately, each piece will look the same as the others. Quilting businesses often house big selections of fat quarters already made in advance.
Using Fat Quarters To Sew
Fat quarters aren’t just limited to quilting purposes. Their square-like form is great for sewing pillows and bags. Fat quarters can be sheared into smaller quarters to create mats and potholders.
These pieces can be sewed together to make patchwork garments, like dresses, shirts, and scarves. Fat quarters are versatile fabric pieces that can be used in countless ways.
Number Of Fat Quarters Needed For A Quilt
It’s usually cheaper to purchase fat quarters in bundles compared to buying individual pieces. Quiltmakers often wonder how many bundles they’ll need to buy to create a single quilt.
The number of pieces needed will depend on how big you want the quilt to be, as well as the desired pattern.
Here are some rough guidelines to sew quilts of a few sizes. Before using these estimates, remember that they presume the quilt will be made from whole, complete fat quarters. These guidelines won’t work if you plan on cutting the fat quarters into smaller parts.
These guidelines are also the recommended minimum amount of pieces you’ll need. You’ll probably need to purchase more than the numbers below.
- Throws usually need more than 12 fat quarters
- Twins usually need more than 24 fat quarters
- Queen/Full quilts usually need more than 30 fat quarters
- King quilts usually need more than 42 fat quarters
You may want to shear fat quarters into smaller pieces to make specific designs. However, this will mean that you’ll need more material than the guidelines above, particularly if you plan on repeating the design across the quilt.
Make sure that you like the fabric in a bundle before you buy it. If this isn’t possible, you can look at the fabric afterward and create a design based on the different pieces.
How To Cut A Fat Quarter
You may plan on creating a specific quilt design but haven’t found any fat quarters in fabric shops that suit the pattern you have in mind. In this case, you may need to cut your fat quarters out of fabric.
It isn’t a very tricky process, but you may want to carry out a test run on a fabric sample before using your intended fabric.
Remember that pre-washing the quarters can make the fabric shrink, which could affect your measurements.
You will need the following items:
- One yard of fabric
- A cutting mat 36 inches by 48 inches
- A quilting rotary cutter tool
You can cut fat quarters yourself by following these steps.
- Begin by cutting your yard of fabric in half. This will give you two half-yard pieces measuring 18 inches by 44 inches.
- Next, fold one of the two pieces half ways down its width, ensuring that the edges line up. Place this fabric on the cutting mat.
- Check to see if your fabric is 18 inches on two of its sides, but 22 inches on the others.
- If the measurements are correct, open the fabric. If it was folded correctly, there should be a crease along with the cutting mat’s 22-inch point.
- If your fabric was folded precisely in half, start cutting down the crease with the rotary cutter.
- If the fabric wasn’t folded in half correctly, use a measuring tape to measure 22 inches along with the fabric, then cut down that line.
- Once you finish cutting, you should have two fat quarters of material that measure 18 inches by 22 inches.
- Follow these steps again on the other half yard of fabric. Once done, you should be left with four fat quarters.
If you decide to purchase a bolt of quilting material, remember that the textile is likely to be folded in half already. If this is so, you just need to cut a half yard of fabric, open it to see if the crease point is 22 inches long, then cut down the line.
How Much Do Fat Quarters Cost?
As mentioned previously, you can buy fat quarters as individual pieces, or together as a bundle. Fat quarters sold online tend to come in bundles, but the price depends on who is selling them and how many pieces are in one bundle.
Fat quarter prints are usually sold for around $3.00, while solid colors are sold for $3.02 per piece. You may be able to find bundles of these at a sale price.
Some pre-cut bundles contain several fabric patterns. This means you won’t have to cut the fat quarter pieces yourself, as long as you like the different patterns and colors in the bundle. These bundles are ideal for creating patchwork quilts, accessories, and garments.
These bundles all have different fabric patterns and colors within them, but they are named differently depending on their measurements. These are some common names of bundles and their average price, but keep in mind that the cost will differ depending on where you purchase them from.
- Mini charm pack bundle – 2 1/2 inch squares, usually $3.75 for 42 pieces
- Charm pack bundle – 5-inch squares, usually $8.95 for 42 pieces
- Jelly roll bundle – 2 1/2 inch long strips, usually $34.95 for 40 strips
- Layer cake bundle, 10-inch squares, usually $35.95 for 42 pieces
We’ll cover more about these bundles below.
What Are Charm Packs?
Also known as charm squares and stackers, charm packers are packs of fabric pieces. These are 5-inch squares that are all different prints, though you may find repeat prints in one bundle.
Charm packs are popular as they’re ideal when making pillows, quilts, and little patchwork pieces.
What Are Mini Charm Packs?
Mini charm packs are smaller, square pieces of fabric. These pieces are cut in advance and are great for sewing smaller projects. Unlike normal charm packs that are 5 inches square, mini charm packs are half the size, at 2.5 inches.
Mini charm packs usually contain 42 pieces of coordinating patterns, designs, or colors. These are popular when patching up holes and creating baby blankets.
What Are Jelly Rolls?
The term ‘jelly roll’ was given by Moda Fabrics. The brand used the name to single out pre-cut fabric from premium quilting fabric.
A jelly roll will consist of strips 2.5 inches by 42 inches wide. They will be rolled into a circle that resembles a jelly roll, though other brands may refer to them as Strip Sets, Rolie Polie, or Pops.
What are Layer Cakes?
The term ‘layer cake’ is given to several 10-inch squares of fabric. These will be in a collection based on pattern, design, or color. One layer cake will have 42 pieces of pre-cut squares.
They’re ideal to use when creating quilts, as all the pieces will coordinate well with each other. This means that you won’t need to buy other pieces of fabric to create a cohesive quilt.
As all the pieces harmonize well, you’re less likely to waste fabric when making your project.
Purchasing Fat Quarters
Many online stores and popular fabric shops sell fat quarters. However, if you decide to buy these online, you’ll usually have to buy a bundle. Those that want a particular fabric style will have better luck purchasing fat quarters in person.
You can often find cheap fat quarters at popular stores like Walmart and Hobby Lobby. Both of these stores sell bundles and individual fat quarters. Individual pieces can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $4.00.
Walmart’s fat quarter bundles are usually less expensive than Hobby Lobby’s. They are normally around $5.50 for a 5-pack bundle, while Hobby Lobby costs more at $10.
Walmart is also a great place to buy larger fat quarter bundles, as third-party companies sell them on the website. Hobby Lobby doesn’t sell larger fabric bundles, but you can find rolls of fabric strips in their stores and online. A jelly roll normally costs around $12.99 for 20 strips.
If you prefer online shopping, Etsy is a great place for finding unique patterns from individual sellers. However, the price can vary on Etsy, as each seller will have a different budget and production cost.
Other popular online stores include Fat Quarter Shop and Missouri Star Quilt Company. Fat Quarter Shop offers many pre-cut bundles for sale. These can be sold for as little as $12, though some bundles can be expensive, reaching up to $135.
Fat Quarter Shop also sells jelly rolls, layer cakes, and fat eighth bundles, so it’s a good place for anyone planning on creating quilts.
Missouri Star Quilt company sells individual fat quarters along with their bundles. However, individual fat quarters are listed as a mystery option, so you won’t be able to choose what your piece will look like. A mystery solid color piece tends to cost around $2.00, while a mystery print piece costs $3.00.
The company sells bundles that can cost $12 to $143, though this will vary with different patterns, fabrics, and the number of pieces in the bundle.
Lastly, Joann is an established fabric retailer with stores online and in person. Joann is one of the less expensive stores that sell fat quarter bundles, though you won’t be able to purchase single fat quarters online.
These bundles can cost $10.99 – $14.99 for a 5 pack of mixed patterns. Other than fat quarters, Joann also sells craft books with ideas that may inspire you to create other projects with your fat quarters.
What Are Fat Eighths?
Fat eighths are fat quarters cut in half. Fat eighths are another popular pre-cut fabric size that is normally used to make quilts.
You can cut these yourself from a yard of material, or you can purchase several fat eighths in a bundle. Cutting these pieces yourself will produce eight fat eighths from a single yard of fabric.
You can cut fat eighths in two separate sizes, either along its length or down its width. Shearing a fat quarter lengthwise will produce a fat eighth 22 inches in width and 9 inches in length.
Shearing a fat quarter widthwise will create a fat eighth 18 inches in length and 11 inches in width. This produces two fat eighths for every fat quarter.
Using Fat Eighths In A Quilt
Quiltmakers can use fat eighths in a quilt, but there’s no way to tell how many fat eighths you’ll need. This number will vary depending on the design you want to make, any other pieces of fabric you plan on using, and the size of the quilt.
You can get a rough idea of how many fat eighths you’ll need by looking at your quilt patterns measurements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s The Difference Between A Regular Quarter Yard Of Fabric And A Quarter Yard?
A standard quarter yard of fabric is 44 inches wide, but 9 inches across. Quarter yards of fabric have many uses, but they’re particularly good for strip piecing. This process sews long fabric strips together, then shears them into pieces to resemble a piece of the quilt.
A fat quarter is 22 inches by 18 inches. A quarter yard of fabric is distinctly rectangular, but a fat quarter looks more square-like. These are often used to make patchwork garments, pillows, and bags.
Are All Fat Quarters the Same?
Fat quarters can be slightly different depending on the country they are made in. For instance, places like Australia measure by textiles in meters.
One meter is roughly 1.1 yards. This means that an Australian fat quarter can be slightly larger than an American one, as America measures fabric in yards.
However, this will vary depending on who made the fabric, as well as where it is sold.
Can Fat Quarters Be Made From Other Fabrics?
Fat quarters are normally made from quilting fabrics, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be made from other materials. Any type of fabric can be a fat quarter as long as the piece is cut in the necessary dimensions.
The Bottom Line
Fat quarters are simply pieces of fabric that measure 18 inches by 22 inches. These differ from standard quarter yards of fabric, as these are 9 inches by 44 inches. Due to differences in measuring systems, a fat quarter may have slightly different dimensions depending on the country it is sold in.
Fat quarters have an advantage, as it makes cutting larger pieces of fabric easier than obtaining pieces from a standard quarter yard of material. Fat quarters are popular when making patchwork garments and sampler quilts.
You can purchase fat quarters individually, or buy several pieces together in a bundle. Online fabric stores tend to sell bundles, so those looking for specific pieces of fabric may have better luck shopping in person.