What is a Fat Quarter, Anyway?

| Quilty | Episode 232

Mary explains what a fat quarter is and why they’re so popular in the quilting world. For more quilting tips pick up Quilty magazine or watch Quilty episodes at QNNtv.com. Also, check out Easy Quilts Scrap Quilt 2012 for great fat quarter friendly projects such as, It’s Easy Being Green. Also check out Strippy Pyramids to try your hand at a fat quarter project.

Hint: click the photos to view the It’s Easy Being Green digital pattern and Easy Quilts Scrap Quilt 2012!




  1. Thanks, Mary. Essential info for newbie quilters. Can’t tell you how many times, as a new quilter, I bought a quarter of a yard instead of a fat quarter, imagining that they were the same thing, and then didn’t have enough fabric for my project. A friendly quilt shop employee finally educated me! And most quilt shops, I’ve found, are willing to cut a fat quarter, although some still resist.

    Karen, 2 years ago Reply

  2. Could you pls include size of a fat quarter in metric system. It would be very useful when ordering fabric from country using metric system: it is somewhat larger than our fat quarters.
    Keep up with the great work, Mary!

    Diane Cote, 2 years ago Reply

  3. When I teach Quilting 101 at my local JoAnn’s, I explain “If you go to the cutting counter and ask for a quarter yard of fabric, they will measure 9″ and cut across the fabric, resulting in a long skinny noodle of fabric. But quilters realized they wanted a wider expanse of the pattern but didn’t want to have to buy a half a yard. So they convinced the quilt shops to cut half a yard, or 18″ wide, then cut up the fold, creating 2 pieces which are now still only 1/4 yard, but now wider than the noodle so “fat” quarters of a yard. A fat quarter will always be 18″ by half the width of the fabric, usually about 21-22″.” (I love Mary, but I’m not sure where she was getting the part about turning the fabric and cutting it that way, unless she was referring to the cutting up the fold part…) At this point, students often ask if they can take a bolt up to the cutting counter at JoAnn’s and ask for a fat quarter… I explain that JoAnn’s gets their fat quarters from a vendor, already packaged and labeled. So no. But our local quilt shops will because they cut all their own fat quarters anyway; some cut off the first two yards of every new fabric to make fat quarters. Sometimes you see them labeled Quilters’ Quarters or Quarter Flats. They can be folded, bundled, rolled up with a ribbon… all will measure 18″ x 21-22″. And when a pattern that calls for Fat Quarters tells you to cut strips 2″ x 21″ they just mean 2″ x the width of the fat quarter. No need to actually cut the 21″ measurement. Likewise a full strip will be listed as 2″ x 42″. That’s the amount of useable fabric they assume you will have once you trim off the selvages.

    Ann Wiseman, 2 years ago Reply

    • Thank you so much. I’m a fairly new quilter and love this information.

      MyrLene Stevens, 2 years ago Reply

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