You can commonly find fat quarters when looking for fabric for sewing projects. But what exactly are fat quarters and when would you need them?
In this guide, I’ll talk about fat quarters and their common sizes, so you’ll have a good idea of what you’ll get when stepping foot into a linen or fabric store.
But if you don’t have time to go through the whole thing, let me sum it up for you right now:
Far quarters are cuts of a roll of fabric that typically measure 18 × 22 inches (46 × 56 centimeters), though there are variations to the fat-quarter cut.
What Is a Fat Quarter?
Have you ever purchased an entire roll of fabric before? Unless you have a sewing business, you’ve probably purchased fabric in smaller quantities.
A fat quarter is the smallest cut of fabric you can purchase without going to the remnants section or box. Essentially, a fat quarter is a quarter of a 1-yard-wide cut. Fabric stores will measure out 1 yard from a 50-yard-plus roll of fabric to cut into fat quarters.
The typical roll of fabric will measure 50 yards (150 feet or 45.72 meters) wide by between 40 and 60 inches (101 and 152 centimeters).
To cut a fat quarter, the seller will cut 1 yard of the fabric to produce a single sheet that measures 36 inches by 36-60 inches (91 × 91-152 centimeters). This rectangular sheet is then cut into quarters by slicing it straight down the middle horizontally and vertically. The end products are four fat quarters, each measuring roughly 18 × 18-30 inches (46 × 46-76 centimeters).
Fat Quarter Variations
Fabric stores will commonly cut fat quarters by dividing a yard-wide strip of fabric into four pieces. However, some fabric stores also offer variations in the fat-quarter cut.
After measuring and cutting 1 yard (91 centimeters) off of a roll of fabric, the seller may divide the yard-wide sheet into 4 equal strips by cutting the fabric 3 times horizontally or vertically.
Assuming the yard-wide sheet is 44 inches (91 × 112 centimeters) long, the fat quarters will measure 36 × 11 inches (91 × 28 centimeters) when cut horizontally or 9 × 44 inches (23 × 112 centimeters) when cut vertically.
Why Do Fabric Stores Sell Fat Quarters?
There are 3 main reasons why fabric stores will sell fat quarters.
Firstly, it can allow users to create quilts with numerous colors and motifs. This means the buyer doesn’t have to purchase more of a certain fabric than they need.
Secondly, it can reduce waste. Buyers can select as much or as little of a certain fabric or cut as they want when they choose fat quarters.
Thirdly, fabric stores can sell more fabric. Very rarely do fabric stores get buyers who will purchase an entire 50-yard roll of one type of fabric. So, after selling about 48 yards of a roll, leaving 2 yards, they might decide to strip the remaining 2-yard-wide sheet into 8 fat quarters.
What Can You Do with Fat Quarters?
The number of quilting or sewing projects that use fat quarters is virtually limitless. There are all sorts of arts and crafts projects that use fat quarters, such as putting together colorful quilts, making aprons and tablecloths, and even making purses from scratch.
Basically, whatever your mind’s eye can come up with, you can almost always make it using several fat-quarter fabric cuts—just combine a bunch of designs, and you’ll have something that you and your family can enjoy.
FAQ About Fat Quarters
1. Why is it called “fat” quarters?
The main reason it’s called a “fat” quarter is that the quarter-cut of a yard-wide piece of fabric will look squarish in shape. However, it will be slightly “fatter” on one side, hence its name.
2. How much do fat quarters cost?
Here’s the thing. If you’ve ever shopped at a fabric store before, you probably know that purchasing large quantities of one fabric is much cheaper per yard than purchasing smaller quantities. Since fat quarters are one of the smallest mass-prepared cuts of fabric, they will cost you substantially more per yard.
On average, you can hope to pick up a single fat-quarter cut for around $2 for solid colors and $3 for colorful cuts. Some carriers also have bulk deals—for instance, 8 fat quarters for $12 or 75 fat quarters for $100. However, it ultimately depends on the type of fabric and the motif.
3. What are fat eighths?
Fat quarters may seem pretty small, but they’re not the smallest cut fabric stores have on hand. If you want smaller cuts, you can ask the seller for fat eighths. A fat-eighth cut of fabric is merely a fat quarter that’s cut in half.
The size of the fat eighth will depend on how the fabric store cuts the cloth. For instance, if their fat quarters measure 18 × 22 inches (46 × 56 centimeters), they might sell fat eighths that are either 9 × 22 inches (23 × 56 centimeters) or 18 × 11 inches (46 × 28 centimeters).
4. How many fat quarters do I need to make a quilt?
The number of fat quarters you’ll need to make anything, including quilts, depends on how large you want the item to be.
For instance, if you want to make a quilt that measures 54 × 77 inches (137 × 196 centimeters) and your local fabric store sells 18 × 22-inch (46 × 56-centimeter) fat quarters, you’ll need to buy 11 fat quarters. In the end, you’ll have half a fat quarter (or a fat eighth) remaining.
While you can get cuts of fabric at nearly any size you want, the smallest cut that’s most widely available is known as the fat quarter. A fat quarter is merely a quartered piece of a yard-wide cloth, so its dimensions may vary. On average, a fat quarter will measure 18 × 22 inches (46 × 56 centimeters), but it ultimately depends on the length of the roll.
Please feel free to drop a comment if you think I missed anything important about fat quarter sizes. If any of your creative friends are thinking of making quilts anytime soon, make sure you share this article with them.