Just What is a Fat Quarter?
A fat quarter is a quarter-yard of quilting fabric that is cut in a taller and fatter shape than a standard quarter-yard. You will find fat quarters everywhere at your local quilt shop, either sold individually or packaged in bundles like the one above.
To be precise, a fat quarter is a quarter-yard of fabric that is cut into a blocky shape that measures about 18″ x 22″ (46 cm x 56 cm). This is a different shape from a standard quarter-yard, which is cut across the full width of the fabric and is longer and skinnier than a fat quarter. A fat quarter’s shape lends itself to making larger squares and triangles, or shorter strips than a standard quarter-yard. Compare the shape of this fat quarter:
To the shape of this regular quarter-yard, which is cut across the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage.
A standard quarter-yard measures 9″ by the width of the fabric (42″ to 44″, depending on the manufacturer). This long, skinny cut is great if you want to quilt with fabric strips, but not so great for cutting other shapes like larger squares or triangles.
Buying a fat quarter of a fabric is a great way to get your hands on a color or print you just have to have, without spending a fortune. Quilt shops make this easy for you by displaying fat quarters everywhere. I bought lots of them when I first started quilting. But how can you cut them up into useful shapes?
Cutting Up Your Fat Quarters
There are a number of different ways to cut your fat quarters. (Warning: while the standard size for a fat quarter is 18″ x 22″, not all fat quarters actually measure up to the ideal dimensions. Check yours before you cut.)
Here’s one way we like: cutting the fat quarter into four 9″ squares and one 3-1/2″ x 18″ strip. All very useful sizes.
Cutting Fat Quarters into Charm Squares and Strips
And here’s a way to cut up your fat quarters into 10″ layer cake squares and 5″ charm squares, you can make your own charm packs. You will also have some extra strips you can use to sew string quilts or other types of scrap quilts.
Cutting Fat Quarters into 10 Different-Sized Squares
Do you need a particular size square for a quilt pattern? The following ten charts show ten ways to cut up a fat quarter into identical squares from 2″ to 6-1/2″. Some size squares leave extra strips you can use for scrap projects. You can cut:
Post first published on November 3, 2014. Revised and updated on April 27, 2018.