If you are a new quilter you may ask “what exactly IS a fat quarter”?
A fat quarter is a cut of fabric that is approximately 18” x 22”. It is a common size of fabric a quilter can purchase, but the math can be confusing for a new quilter.
This post breaks down what a fat quarter is, how it’s measured, why to buy them, how to use them. I also did a full YouTube video on it that you can find here!
What is a Fat Quarter?
A fat quarter is a piece of fabric that measures approximately 18″ x 22″.
It is a common cut of fabric that can be purchased in quilt stores. Oftentimes you can buy fat quarters in coordinating bundles.
Fat quarters are terrific for adding variety to your stash, applique projects, and pieced quilt blocks. Many quilt patterns call for fat quarters because they can be cut up many different ways!
How does a Fat Quarter differ from a quarter yard of fabric?
The following graphic shows you how a fat quarter (18 x 22 inches) differs from a quarter yard of fabric (i.e. 9 inches by 44 inches, which is the common width of fabric or “WOF”).
How to cut a Fat Quarter:
- To cut a FAT QUARTER, start by cutting a length of 18 inches (½ yard) by WOF
- Next, open up the fabric on the fold and cut down the fold line.
- This yields a piece of fabric that is 18 inches long by 22 inches wide.
You buy one fat quarter, and the store nicely folds up what you didn’t buy and they put it in a basket for someone else to come along and buy it!
Oh, and someone will come buy it because it’s a great size for SO MANY projects.
How Many Fat Quarters are in 1 Yard?
As the name “quarter” implies, there are 4 fat quarters in 1 yard of fabric.
To understand that you are still getting a quarter yard of fabric, you need to understand the math. I know that once you see it, it is easy to understand!
Basics for Understanding Quilt Math
- 1 yard of fabric equals 36 inches.
- Most commonly, a bolt of quilting fabric 44 inches wide (you will see this referred to as “WOF” which stands for “Width of Fabric”) .
That means if you ask for one yard of fabric, you are getting a piece that is 44 inches wide by 36 inches long, or an area of 1,584 square inches (length x width).
Quilting fabric is purchased by increments of one yard.
The table below provides the common increments that fabric can be purchased in and shows you how many square inches you are buying. I put this table together to show you that 1 fat quarter has the same number of quarter inches as a quarter yard of fabric.
It’s just cut differently!
Why buy a Fat Quarter?
You might wonder why you would buy a fat quarter and how you might use it. Quilters like to “collect” fat quarters because they are great for a variety of different projects.
Fat Quarters are an inexpensive way to build variety in your stash:
If you are a new quilter, you may not have a variety of colors, patterns and solids to you stash.
Purchasing a fat quarter gives you a generously-sized piece of fabric but it’s more economical than purchasing a yard.
This Perfect Pinwheel wall hanging utilized fat quarters for a variety of colors. You can download this pattern for free from my Freebie Library!
A variety of colors and patterns is nice for applique, scrappy projects or smaller quilted projects such as table runners, wall hangings, placemats, totes, etc.
When I worked on my Farm Girl Vintage quilt, I started with a fat quarter bundle that featured many colors and patterns.
This made my quilt very colorful, scrappy and fun!
Many patterns are written specifically for fat quarters.
You will be shocked at how many patterns and books are written to be “fat quarter friendly”. Often patterns will be written to incorporate a variety of fabrics so that it is colorful and fun!
Fat quarters are a practical cut of fabric – it’s amazing what you can all cut from ONE fat quarter!
The chart below shows you everything you can all cut from ONE FAT QUARTER!
Psssst: Want to print this to hang up at home? Grab a download here! Or pin it and save for later!
Are all Fat Quarters the same size?
A word of caution: while fat quarters are generally the same size, not all fat quarters will be the same.
Why? Because not all bolts of fabric are the same.
Like I said before, most commonly a bolt of quilting fabric 44 inches in width.
However, different manufacturers may have something that varies slightly from this – such as 42” or 43”. Some bolts of fabric may have entirely different widths all together (such as bolts that are commonly used for quilt backings, which are XXX inches wide).
Varying widths of fabric will alter the size of a fat quarter. Something to keep in mind!