If you are like me and enjoy visiting quilt shops, I’m sure you have seen many fat quarters laying around the shops, beckoning you to pick them up, purchase them, and happily take them home with you to stash in your sewing room/studio.


Christmas Fat Quarters


If you are a beginner quilter, you may ask, “What is a fat quarter?” I can remember telling a more experienced quilter that I couldn’t find a fat quarter in a particular fabric color, to which she replied, “Make your own.” I was aghast! I told her, “I don’t know how to make a fat quarter, I just buy them.” She just laughed but did not tell me how to make one.

So dear beginner quilter, I am going to explain to you what a fat quarter is, its purpose, and how to make a fat quarter of your very own.


Fabric Bolts


Quilting fabric is priced by the yard, and it comes folded in half with the right side showing on a bolt. When the fabric is unfolded, its width is usually 44 – 45 inches. The length is determined by how much of the fabric you want to purchase.

You’ll see the bolts of fabric stacked up prettily in the quilt shops, usually by color, print, or designer collection.

The making of a fat quarter.

If you tell the shop employee that you would like a quarter yard of a particular fabric, she will take the bolt down and carry it over to the cutting table, measure nine inches of fabric, slice it off with her rotary cutter and hand it to you. You are going to have a piece of fabric that measures nine by approximately 44 inches. These dimensions might be alright for some projects, but sometimes you may want more fabric width.

A yard of folded fabric is cut, then cut again at the halfway point, which is 18 inches. The folded fabric is then opened and a third cut is made close to the fold line on both 18-inch sections. The result is that 4 fat quarters have been made and measure 18 by 22-inches.

You end up with the same amount of fabric. (See the formula below.)


(first example) ¼ yard cut – 9-inch strip by 44-inches = 396 square inches of fabric

(second example) one 18 by 22-inch fat quarter = 396 square inches of fabric

If you need a visual aid, check out this printable Fat Quarter Cutting Chart.

A fat quarter provides a bigger piece of fabric that is almost square, while a quarter yard of fabric is a long and thinner strip.

They are precut and can be found just about everywhere in the quilt shops. (I’ve even seen them beautifully displayed in quaint baskets in the lady’s room.)



And you don’t have to wait in line at the cutting table, you can just pick out the ones you want and head to the checkout counter.

And if you can’t find the fabric you need at the shop, you can confidently head home confident you can make your own fat quarters. You don’t have to be embarrassed and have the ‘deer-in-the-headlight’ look on your face like I did when told that I could just make my own fat quarters. Just saying…

Looking at all these fat quarters makes you want to visit a few shops, doesn’t it?

Many quilt shops have decided to participate in the annual quilters shop hop events. I have the perfect book/planner that can assist you in planning and organizing your shop hopping this year. Check it out!