Friday, March 23, 2012

The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric [Part 3: Fat Quarters & Pre-cuts]

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The SoChick Chick's Guide to Fabric is my little road-map to fabric, some tips and tricks I've learned along the way and am sharing with you.  And, i'm not going to lie, a total excuse to play with and talk about fabric... I am a Fabric Addict, you know!?

[Part 3: Fat Quarters and Pre-cuts]

What is a Fat Quarter (aka FQ)?

Common for quilting, a FQ is a quarter yard of fabric, but not as it's cut off of the bolt.  Whaaat?  Let me show you:

* Please excuse the crazy amount of wrinkles in my pretty fabric! Holy Moly! *blushing*

So, Why Fat Quarters?

See for yourself...

looking at the images again, you'll notice that a true quarter yard of fabric is skinny, at only 9 in long, and wide.

If you are using a fabric for it's print, and let's face it, you most likely are, a true quarter yard isn't giving you much to work with.  See, those poor gals in my fabric would be headless if I cut it at 1/4 yard!

A fat quarter on the other hand (third photo) gives you 18 inches of length.  Therefore, you get more workable print in this cut.  Yay, our ladies have heads!

Even if you are using solids, a Fat Quarter will give you more room to work with when it comes to lengthwise grain.

Why do I love Fat Quarters and think you should too?

For starters, Fat Quarters are a great way to learn about, and try out, different designers and manufacturers without committing to several yards of fabric up front.  A great option for beginners!!  When I started sewing, I would purchase pre-cuts to familiarize myself with the different options available... If I liked it, I went on to purchase it by the yard.  This is especially helpful if you live in an area where premium fabrics are hard to find and the majority of your fabric shopping is done online.  

FQs are also great for when you are trying to save money on a project.  Of course, if you are making garments that require yardage, you'll need to purchase yardage, but for accessories, some handbags and smaller crafts, FQs are the way to go.

Generally you can find Fat Quarters ranging in cost from $2.50- $3.50 each. So, yes, when you purchase Four Fat Quarters, you will probably pay slightly more than you would for a full-yard cut of fabric, but you will have Four different prints! Bundles can cost around $30-ish, so you can end up with loads of prints for your stash! (And, THAT makes perfect cents! I'm a geek, I know.)

I am a firm believer in "you get what you pay for".  I would not purchase cheap/poorly made fabric for use in a project that I am gifting (or selling!) to someone.  Why put your time and effort into something that's going to fall apart and not hold up because you chose poor quality materials?  You can keep costs down by purchasing a few FQs from a good quality fabric line without having to put out the money or a yard of each print.

Here are some item's I've made that use Fat Quarters:

SoChick's Daisy Handbag (using 3 FQs):

SoChick Boxie Pouch (Using 2 FQs.. also here's my Free Pattern, too)

See a fabric collection you love? Purchase the FQ Bundle, then you can order yardage of the prints you will use most and save the others for accents, etc.
This is a Fat Quarter Bundle I purchased from Fat Quarter Shop a while back.
Other Pre-Cuts include:

Fat Eigths (Half of a FQ, cut in half vertically)

Charm Packs (usually 5" x 5" squares)

Jelly Rolls, etc (Pre-cut strips of fabric)

Smaller pre-cuts are fun to play with, especially for piecing and quilting-style projects.  But, also, a great way to familiarize yourself with the great quality fabrics and prints that are available out there!

Some of my fav places to find Fat Quarters, pre-cuts and bundles:

Fat Quarter Shop

Etsy (lots of independent shops that sell individual FQ cuts as well as bundles)

Next, a crash course in using interfacing and interlinings to make your handmade items shine!

Just joining in? Check out the previous parts of my guide

[Part 1: Fabric Grain]

I hope you are finding this guide helpful, feel free to tell me in the comments below!

XxOo~ Melissa


  1. I'm definitely finding this series helpful, Melissa. Because the things I make & sell tend to be small, I've already learned the magic of fat quarters - and I love finding good ones for around a dollar at JoAnn, Walmart, etc.

    My cup cozies require only a specific amount of fabric so I always buy FQs or I buy around 6" of yardage, which allows me to get TONS of different prints for very low cost.

    Question - jelly rolls - what are they used for? Tiny piecing?

    REALLY looking forward to the interfacing post next week!

  2. Yay, Ashley, I'm so glad this is helpful! Woot!

    Jelly Rolls are 2 1/2 inch x 44in strips of fabric used for piecing (generally in quilting) They come rolled up, well, like a Jelly roll. ;-)

  3. I'm a beginning sewer and I LOVE fat quarters!!! And those are great projects you shared :)


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