Monday, 30 December 2013

Fat quarters and other cuts


The United Kingdom supposedly underwent metrification many years ago.  I believe it was around 1965 when it all began and it was voluntary back then.  Some 15 years later, around 1980 we were forced to follow European directives that would apparently see off the old Imperial system for good.  Of course we all know that only happened in part.

So are you a metric girl or is your brain still hard wired to the old ways?  I confess to being an Imperial girl. I still weigh in pounds and ounces and I measure in feet and inches. It’s nothing to do with metric but for the record I’m also a Fahrenheit girl for temperature.  I simply cannot get my head around centigrade.

Sometimes I think my Imperial brain puts me at a disadvantage but there is one area where it helps……. Sewing and quilting. Have you noticed how many suppliers still sell fabric by the yard?  OK, I know department stores the like of John Lewis sell in meters but the smaller independent fabric retailers work in yards.  Bolts of fabric are still generally measured in inches wide.  As an example a common width is 44 inches.  36 inches and 60 inches are also common.

Nearly all quilting patterns will quote the fabric requirements in yardage. Of course sometimes you may not need a full yard so fabric is sold by the half and the quarter.  Many shops will sell you as little as 6 inches if that is all you need.  

As a quilter one of the most common requirements is for a fat quarter or FQ.  It took me ages to actually figure out what this is.  If you are a quilter you will no doubt have a stash of fat quarters but do you know what they actually are?  If you aren’t a quilter you probably have no idea what I am talking about!

Fat quarters are pre-cut pieces of cotton fabric. They are taken from one yard of fabric, cut in half lengthwise, and then in half width-wise. The dimensions are approximately 18" x 22" (46cm x 56cm).
A normal quarter yard cut from a bolt would measure 44" x 9" (112cm x 23cm). This is usually known as a long quarter or occasionally a thin or skinny quarter.

A Fat eighth is half of a FQ but can be cut vertically or horizontally giving different dimensions.  Some places also sell pre-cuts known as sweet sixteens, which you have guessed it…… they are half of a fat eighth and again will come in 2 different sizes depending on the direction of the cut. 


This YouTube video gives a good explanation of the various cuts.


Fat quarters are extremely popular with patchworkers and quilters as they can be used in so many ways.  If you are using 5 inch squares in your design then a FQ will yield 12 whereas a standard quarter yard will usually only give 8.

Fat quarters are often pre-cut and sold with coordinating fabric, so they’re easy to pick up and add to your stash.  Be warned they are addictive!  Most quilters will have quite a collection and quite often purchase bundles with no idea in mind what they might use them for!  I am guilty of this!  

So do you have a stash of FQ’s? What are your plans for them?  If you have ideas that you would like to share about using all those FQ’s then please get in touch and we can arrange a guest post.  It is always nice to see what other people do.