ZJ Humbach

What is a Fat Quarter vs. a Quarter Yard of Fabric?

ZJ Humbach
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When it comes to buying fabric there are many options. You can purchase any length of fabric you want from off a bolt or you can buy pre cut pieces or bundles of fabric. One of the more popular pre-cut pieces of fabric available today is a fat quarter. ZJ Humbach teaches you what is a fat quarter, exactly how much fabric it is and how it is different from a quarter yard of fabric.

Understand Fabric Yardage

Quilting fabric can be purchased off of a bolt in lengths of anything from a few inches to a few yards. While the length of the fabric you purchase can differ drastically the width is generally consistent- anywhere from 42″ to 44″. Fabric is folded when it is stored on a bolt so when it is being cut the width of fabric you see is around 21″, folded in half. A quarter yard of fabric is 9″, making the total size of fabric purchased when getting a quarter yard 9″ x the width of fabric, generally 42″ to 44″. So, what is a fat quarter? ZJ shows what a quarter yard of fabric looks like and compares it to a fat quarter of fabric. Fat quarters measure approximately 18″ x 21″. An easy way to visualize and understand what a fat quarter is and how it is cut is to think of a quarter yard of fabric that has been cut where the fold is into two 9″ x 21″ pieces. One of those pieces is then laid next to the other, creating an 18″ x 21″ piece of fabric, known as a fat quarter.

Buying Fabric Tips to Get the Right Amount

Understanding what is a fat quarter makes them more useful to have when planning out a quilt. And, while most quilters don’t generally need extra reasons to buy more fabric, ZJ explains why fat quarters are handy to have in every fabric stash. She also explains when and why you might want to buy a fat quarter over a quarter yard of fabric, or the other way around.

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3 Responses to “What is a Fat Quarter vs. a Quarter Yard of Fabric?”

  1. stephenie crowley

    It would have been helpful to unfold the quarter-yard to show that it's two layers, 42" x 8". Beginners might not understand that, because it's never shown. Thanks for everything else being clear, though.

  2. Katharine Richardson

    Ok.... trying to find an easy way for my mind to remember this, a 1/4 yard is basically 9" x 42" which is folded in half on the bolt. A fat quarter is 18" x 21". If length is needed then the yardage is better. So, reading the pattern instructions is a great idea, like you stated in the video, before picking out and cutting any fabric. If you calculate the square footage, they are the same.

  3. frances

    the dotted green is folded, right? It didn't show even though she mentioned 42".

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