I keep hearing people refer to “fat quarters.” What in the world is a fat quarter?
A fat quarter is a pre-cut piece of fabric that measures 18″ x 21″. It gets its name from the fact that a traditional quarter of a yard of fabric measures 9″ x 45″ (or the width of the fabric), and a fat quarter is actually a 1/2 yard of fabric cut in half.
The rationale for the fat quarter is that quilters can get bigger and more pieces from a fat quarter than from a traditional quarter-yard cut of the same fabric because of the size configuration.
You’ll see fat quarters marketed in quilt, fabric and craft stores in colorful displays to tempt you into buying several. Like some potato chips, you can’t have just one!
There are clever folding methods for fat quarters and creative quilt store owners continue to invent more ways to entice us into buying these pre-cuts. They’re handy to have around when you need a small amount of lots of different fabrics, like for quilt making, appliques, trims, bias, yo-yos, etc. Many sewers organize them in plastic boxes by color so it’s easy to find the right one when needed.
Be sure to watch for fat quarter sales and check prices of fat quarter cuts compared to purchasing a traditional quarter yard of the same fabric if that size works for your project.
If you need even less fabric, look for fat eighths–a cut that’s either 9″ x 22″ or sometimes 11″ x 18″. They’re equally as tempting!