How big is a fat quarter? What are they exactly? What are they used for? Why are they so great? These are some of the (many) questions going through my head when I started quilting.
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When I started quilting in the summer of 2017, I quickly learned that quilters/sewists have a language all their own. As a registered nurse, I am no stranger to abbreviations. However, all of the talk about WOF and RST and fat quarters and HSTs and so on was a bit overwhelming.
I remember feeling a little embarrassed that I had no idea what these terms meant, so much so that I felt silly asking my mom (a fellow quilter) what it all meant. Thank goodness for Google!
Since fat quarters are amazing and they might be a little foreign to those new to the quilting world, let's cover some basics today! Stay tuned--we will cover an overview of what a fat quarter is, how to make your own, and a handy way to fold and store them. Let's dive in!
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What is a Fat Quarter?
Simply speaking, a fat quarter of fabric is a half yard of fabric cut in half. Square footage wise, a quarter yard of fabric and a fat quarter are the same. I
f you reference the graphic below, you will see that the fat quarter is "fat" for a reason--it is shorter and wider than the traditional quarter yard cut off the bolt, allowing it to yield larger pieces of fabric. (For example, if you needed to cut a 10" square, you could do this from a fat quarter but not from a quarter yard.)
Fat quarters are generally more versatile than their quarter yard counterparts, which is what makes them so popular among the quilting community. They are also great stash builders; when I first started quilting, I stocked up on fat quarters because they can be used in so many projects. If a quilt pattern says "fat quarter friendly", then that makes it extra awesome in my book!
The following Wren Collective projects are a great way to use Fat Quarters:
- Rainbow Falls
- Tail Feather
- Cold Front
- Baby Steps
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN FAT QUARTERS
If you're lucky enough to have a local quilt shop in your area, then you're already aware that fat quarters are readily available at most shops. The one thing I've learned, though, is that most quilt shops charge more for a fat quarter in relation to a cut straight off the bolt. For example, it's not uncommon for a half yard cut of fabric off the bolt to cost less than two fat quarters. Equal square footage but unequal price. This is because the quilt shop has already done the work of cutting the fat quarters for you, so they cost a little extra. If you're like me, though, I like saving money wherever I can. I also love having extra pretty fabric to look at. So if I need a fat quarter for a project and it's a fabric I really love and know I will use a second time, I will buy a half yard cut of it and make my own fat quarters at home. One to use for the current project and one to fold up and put in my fat quarter basket. (More on that later.) Not sure how to cut your own fat quarter? Don't worry--it's super easy. First, place your half yard cut of fabric on your cutting mat as shown below:
Rotate the half yard cut 90 degrees clockwise, as demonstrated below:
Next, grab your rotary cutter and your long ruler. Place your ruler along the folded edge of the fabric (the far right edge in the photo above.) Place your ruler as close to the edge as possible, so that you're cutting the least amount of fabric possible. Essentially, you're only aiming to cut the fold off of the fabric. See the photos below to see what I'm talking about.
You can see from the photos above that I'm baaaaaaaarely cutting anything off. I'm only cutting the fold off to yield two pieces of fabric, as seen below:
These two pieces of fabric that you've just cut are two fat quarters! Voila!
HOW TO FOLD FAT QUARTER ENVELOPES
One thing I have learned is that I like to fold my fat quarters in a distinctive way so that I automatically know just by looking at it that it's a fat quarter. I also store them separately, but folding them in this way helps in the inevitable event that some of my fat quarters make their way out of their basket (either by me auditioning fabrics for a project or by my four year old rummaging through things.) To fold your fat quarter envelope, start with your fat quarter laid out on your mat so that the short (18") section is along the bottom of your mat and the long edge (22") is running top to bottom. Take the top of the fat quarter and fold it down once to the bottom edge (as shown as the photos below):
Next, rotate the folded piece of fabric 90 degrees clockwise, as shown below:
You are now going to fold this piece into thirds. Fold the top portion up half way, as shown below, and then the remaining top section down to meet the bottom.
Once you've done this, rotate the fabric 90 degrees clockwise once more:
You're now going to fold this piece into thirds once more. Bring the top section down to the middle, as seen below.
This top portion will now have a little "pocket" for you to fold the bottom section into. (See photos below):
Lastly, bring the bottom section up to the "pocket" and tuck it in.
You now have a neat and tidy fat quarter envelope:
And that's all there is to it! I love having my fat quarters folded this way. I love how you're able to stand the fat quarter envelopes up on their ends; it makes storing them super easy and it looks good, too!
An Easy Way to Store Fat Quarter Envelopes
I like to display my fat quarters in a cute way, and wire storage baskets like these are my favorite way to showcase my fat quarters.
I am able to stand the fat quarter envelopes up on their sides in the basket to easily see what I have in one glance--plus I think the wire baskets are just adorable with any decor!
Happy fat quarter making/folding/storing!
Until next time,
Such pretty little FQs!
I can never resist a pretty fat quarter envelope.
Love this folding technique!! Super handy 🙂
Thank you, Shannon! It’s a nice way for me to keep them organized.