Fat quarters (also known as FQs) are popular with quilters and seamstresses for several reasons including:
- They are an economical way to build up a fabric stash
- Reduce waste when only a small amount of material is required for a project (especially for contrast points)
- They are a more versatile dimension to work with than a 1/4 yard of fabric (explained more fully below)
Once you start dipping into the FQ waters, it gets very tempting to buy them in stacks and bundles because they give a wide variety of print choice at your fingertips. The cost for this method is far lower than buying material in 1/2 yard or full yard cuts.
What does a standard Fat Quarter measure?
Unless otherwise specified, they are 18″ x 22″ which is a 1/4th cut from a yard of 45″ fabric. You can expect the entire piece to be usable with the selvage removed at point of cutting (which is where the extra inch goes).
I have a grid chart below showing you the difference between a 1/4 yard cut of material and a FQ. I also included measurements for 1/8 yd. and Fat Eighth.
The differences quickly come into focus:
- the 1/4 yd. is a thinner but wider strip
- the Fat Quarter is twice the length but half the width, this opens up a whole new world in crafting since the piece isn’t so narrow
Because textile widths can vary (the norms are 36″, 45″ and 60″ but not limited to these), the widths of 1/4 yd and FQs can be different (ie. a 36″ W textile will give an 18″x18″ FQ; a 60″ W textile will give an 18″ x 30″ FQ).
Or…if you are purchasing from a country that has a metric standard, you might be working with meter lengths instead of yardages…this will provide a 19.5″x 22″ FQ (approximately).
But again, when ordering them, you can expect an 18″ x 22″ unless specified otherwise.
Once stash building begins, you’ll be dipping in frequently to use them as contrast elements in a variety of ways (pockets, borders, cuffs, appliques, etc.). But you’ll also find yourself wistfully looking at all the pretty prints just waiting to be used and you’ll start hunting around for projects that are well suited for them.
That’s where this page comes in! I’ve put together a master list of over 60 free tutorials and ideas that use Fat Quarters beautifully. Most are not only quick and easy to whip up, but they are quite lovely or practical too. Sew a treat or two for yourself, for gift giving and for craft tables.
What To Make With Fat Quarters: So Many Ideas!
As always here on Tipnut, only those projects that are 100% hassle-free are included in this collection. This means there are no fees charged, no email addresses to submit and no membership sign-ups required. Any necessary pattern or template pieces are provided (usually via pdf download). I also mainly focus on text & image tutorials, though some may provide additional support via video. If that has changed since being added to this page, please let me know in the comments area below so I can remove it.
Directions: Click on images to view project page, a new browser tab will open & save your spot here
Large Hot Pad
Lined with both batting & Insul-Bright, this will surely do a great job protecting surfaces from hot dishes pulled out of the oven.
You’ll need some double-sided adhesive sheets from Thermoweb. The tutorial has lots of photos to walk you through the process, click on them to view larger size if needed.
I really like these! Each takes 2 & some cotton batting. Fully washable & can tumble dry low (or air dry flat). A free pdf tutorial/pattern is available to download. Note the instruction *not* to prewash fabrics.
DIY Heat Therapy Bags
Here’s all the info you need (fillers, materials & usage directions) to make microwaveable heat packs that help treat aches & pains, good for aromatherapy too. Very gift-worthy!
Super quick to make, these use cork rounds as the base (I’ve found them at the dollar store).
Taking just an hour to sew, this will use 3 & measures 17″ x 23″ once it’s done which makes it suitable for smaller babies & those that are bigger at 18″ too.
Notebook Cover Organizer
Features pockets to hold phones, pens, to do lists, etc. Other than material you’ll just need some lightweight iron on interfacing & a small piece of elastic
A simple little project that makes a great gift for dad. Zip through a stack of these & you’ll be a pro at turning hems in no time flat.
Pie Tote Carrier
Terrific for carrying 9″ pie plates to potlucks & parties, this is quite simple to sew. Just 3-4 FQs, 2 metal rings & some batting will get the job done.
Just the right size for a washing up a few dishes, this is backed by terry cloth. Free tutorial via pdf download.