Fabrics

What is a Fat Quarter and why should you build a stockpile?

What is a Fat Quarter?

Quilting cotton is typically 40-42 inches wide, so one yard would measure 36 inches in length by 42 inches in width.

A quarter of a yard is 9 inches. If you go to the cutting counter and ask for a quarter-yard of fabric we’re going to measure out a piece that’s 9 inches long by 42 inches wide.

A Fat Quarter is a piece of fabric that measures 18 inches by 20-21 inches. Imagine you have a full yard of fabric, opened up – not folded in half like it usually is. Then it’s cut into 4 equal pieces: Cut once horizontally on the fold line and cut again vertically to cut it in half. You would now have 4 equal size pieces.

Why not just ask for a Fat Quarter at the cutting counter?

Sorry, we can’t cut Fat Quarters for you. It’s not cost-effective. We’d have oodles of scrap pieces lying around!

What makes Fat Quarters so special?

Fat quarters are great when you find yourself buying a half a yard of fabric because you need that length but you’ll be wasting half of it because you don’t need the full 42-inch width.

Quilters might use 6, 8, 12 or more solids and prints in their quilts and it only takes a small amount of fabric to cut out some of those little pieces. But sometimes, depending on the size of the quilt piece, it’s more economical to use a fat quarter because they have a full 18 inches to cut from instead of just 9.

If you make small items like purses or placemats or stuffed animals, you might also save money if you use fat quarters. Instead of buying a whole 1/2 yd so you can get the length you need, just buy a fat quarter.

Fat quarters are also:

  • Easier to store – My daughter got me a couple of these cool Fat Quarter totes for Christmas but honestly, they’re small enough to store in shoe boxes.
  • Easier to work with – You don’t need a lot of space to lay out your fabric.
  • Cheap! Even when they’re not on sale you can amass a huge collection of Fat Quarters for, well, a quarter of the cost.
  • Motivational! For me, sewing is my Calgon. But sometimes (most of the time) I don’t have time to start on a full-blown ‘project’, I just want to make something to take myself away for a couple of hours. Looking at my totes full of Fat Quarters always gives me an idea for a new little purse or bag that I can whip up in between loads of laundry.

Donna Anderson

Donna Anderson 'works' at Joann Fabrics at 4600 W. Broad St. in Columbus, OH. Just look for the crazy old lady behind the cutting counter. As a kid, she ran with scissors and ate paste. She's since found safer, more creative ways to use her Fiskars and Mod Podge. Next time you're at the store, stop by the cutting counter and have a chat! (Just please don't ask her about lightbulbs!)

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