Are Fat Quarters A Good Deal?

It seems like everyone is reading labels and comparing prices these days, even quilters. You may have found yourself even doing this in the fabric store.

It’s always a good idea to make sure you are getting the best product for the money you are spending. To really know this, however, you have to be able to compare apples to apples. Or, as the case may be, yardage to fat yardage.

Who hasn’t heard of fat quarters? They are easy to buy, prepackaged for easy sale. They are usually inexpensive enough that it is possible to easily work the cost of a few fat quarters into your quilting budget.  But are they a good deal?

To really know, you have to know what a fat quarter is. A fat quarter is a one-quarter yard piece of fabric. But it isn’t cut like traditional fabric yardage. If you went to a fabric store and had a quarter yard cut from a bolt, its final measurement would be 9 inches tall and 44 inches wide. If you need long strips of fabric, yardage from the bolt is a good way to get it.

A fat quarter, however, is cut differently. You get double the height, but lose half the width. So, a fat quarter is 18 inches tall and 22 inches wide. Sometimes when you compare the two price-wise, the fat quarter may be priced a little higher. That’s because you get a meatier cut of fabric in the fat quarter.

So in deciding which is a better deal, you have to consider your intended use for it. Borders may be better cut from the yardage. Cutting a number of quilt block pieces may be more sensible from the fat quarter.

Other than money, there are other factors that go into determining a good deal on fabric.  If you plan to fussy cut the fabric, you need to consider which cut will give you more of your chosen motifs. This will vary from fabric design to fabric design. Consider how many times the motif repeats in the fabric cut.

Additionally, the size of fat quarters makes them stack easily. If you plan to bulk cut your pieces, they may be the best choice of fabric for the project. Stack up to five on top of each other and slice through them using your rotary wheel.  It is a great time saver which may be worth a little extra money.

The fats are not just reserved for quarters. You can get fat eighths, too.  From a bolt, an eighth of a yard measures 4.5 inches tall by 44 inches wide. Again, that cut would be great when you need long strips. The fat eighth is 9 inches tall by 22 inches wide.

If you cannot visualize your needs, take a copy of the quilt block patterns with you on your visit to the fabric store. Cut them out so you can easily arrange them on the fabric pieces to see which cut will work best for your project.

Don’t forget to take into consideration the grain of the fabric. It isn’t always as easy as turning the patterns so that you get to cut more from the fabric. You also have to be sure the fabric isn’t cut on the bias or your quilt pieces could be too stretchy to use.  It may not seem like a big deal at first, but if you discover the mistake after your entire quilt has been finished, you will have wasted a lot of time and fabric.

If you need help determining which cut will better serve you, ask a fabric store associate for help.

By Penny Halgren of

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