Welcome to Fat Quarter Month!  Beth got us off to a great start with our first two Projects of the Day.  We’ll continue that every day this month, plus we’ll be bringing you tutorials, interviews, a sew-along, a swap and giveaways.  Before we go any further, let’s get down to the basics–what, exactly, is a fat quarter?

Although you often see fat quarters in beautiful stacks, rolled and tied with a ribbon, or folded neatly into stars, the “fat” in fat quarter is not just a matter of presentation–it’s all about the cut.

Most quilt-weight cotton is 44″ wide.  It comes doubled over on the bolt.  When we cut a regular quarter yard (.25), we cut 9″, which is 1/4th of 36″ (a yard.)
Open it up and you have a long, skinny piece that is 9″ x 44″.
To cut a fat quarter, we first have to cut a half yard (18″) off the bolt.
We cut along the fold.
We’re left with two fat quarters–each one 18″ x 22″.

There are several benefits to fat quarters, as opposed to a regular 1/4 yard:

  • You can use fat quarters for projects that require pieces larger than 9″ wide.
  • The most common charm square for quilting projects is 5″.  You can get 12 5″ charms from a fat quarter, but only 8 from a 1/4 yard.
  • With large-scale prints you’re more likely to get the entire design in your cut.
  • Fat quarters allow you to cut longer strips along the lengthwise grain of the fabric (parallel to the selvage edge), which is preferable to crosswise because it is less stretchy.
  • Fat quarters offer you much more flexibility to work with the directionality of the print.  (Consider stripes that typically run parallel to the selvage edge.)
  • Fat quarters are often pre-cut and sold with coordinating fabric, so they’re easy to pick up and add to your stash.

Of course many of you already know the benefits, as well as the addictive qualities of fat quarters!  Some of you may just be learning and we’re definitely here to help.  If you’re looking to round out your stash, we have a new fat quarter section in the shop, to which we’re adding beautiful new packs all the time.  And don’t forget that every comment this month enters you in the pool to win a color pack of fat quarters.  (This week’s color is orange.)