I remember clearly. It was almost seven or eight years ago. I asked my mother-in-law if she knew what a fat quarter of fabric was.
We were visiting my in-laws and heading out to visit some local Amish fabric shops. There was a coupon in the local newspaper for a few fat quarters from one of the sellers. I remember looking up the term online and being confused. I also remember my mother-in-law further explaining to me what it was. I nodded in agreement as if I understood, but I remember being completely confused. I resigned myself to thinking a fat quarter was an oversized quarter of a yard of fabric.
What is a fat quarter of fabric?
That, my friends, is a fat quarter of fabric.
It is not an oversized quarter of a yard. It is, indeed, a real quarter of a yard of fabric. BUT, instead of shaving off a skinny nine inches of a yard, the fabric store cuts a half of a yard of fabric. Then they cut the half yard in half again. Instead of a skinny quarter of a yard, you receive a fat quarter of a yard.
In case you are like me, here is another way to look at it:
Do you see the skinny yard in the image above? Instead of buying a nine inch by 36 inch strip of fabric, a fat quarter allows you to purchase an 18 by 22 inch piece of fabric. See below.
I have become a huge fan of buying fat quarters. Since I’m learning to enjoy a wider variety of fabrics in my quilts, fat quarters are a great way to achieve that. When I find a fabric seller that offers a fat quarter, I expect to pay between $2.50 and $3.00 a piece.
Be sure to note that not all fabric sellers offer fat quarters. Sometimes, when they do, they will charge a bit more per square inch of fabric because of the slight inconvenience of cutting them. They are essentially cutting a half of a yard of fabric off the bolt when they’re really only selling a quarter of a yard.
I understand why some sellers would decide not to offer fat quarters.
When they do, though, I take advantage. They’re a great cut for fabric stashing.
Here’s one more perspective to see the sizing from a full yard down to a fat quarter.
Here’s one full yard of fabric. 36 inches by 45 inches. (Some fabrics are wider than 45 inches, but that is the standard.)
Fold that fabric in half and you get a half of a yard of fabric:
Fold that in half again and you get a skinny quarter yard of fabric:
Or, fold the half yard in half horizontally and you end up with a fat quarter:
What are the advantages of a fat quarter?
I think the biggest advantage of buying fat quarters over the skinny nine inch strips is the ability to use the fabric to its fullest. You have freedom to cut larger squares and a better option for cutting a variety of sizes.
If you find yourself buying half yards a lot of the time and not using it all, try getting a few fat quarters. They have been a great option for me for adding variety to my stash at a much less expense than the half yards.
Every now and then you’ll find shops that offer fat eighths as well. Those are the exact same concept except for an eighth of a yard.
As usual, my favorite shop, SewStitchingHappy, on Etsy offers fat quarters. I’d recommend checking her out. 🙂