Author: Shelley Hong Date Posted:3 March 2016
Pre-cut Fabric Explained
“What on earth is a Fat Quarter?”
“How come my quilt pattern calls for Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes? I’m making a QUILT – not baking!”
If you’re new to the world of patchwork, you might well be wondering about the same thing
So let’s look at the most common types of pre-cut fabric packs – and these are the ones we stock:
Each pieces is 22″ x 18″ (55 cm x 45 cm), most commonly containing 40 pieces per bundle.
Each pieces is 22″ x 9″ (55 cm x 22.5 cm), most commonly containing 40 pieces per bundle.
Each pieces is 44″ x 2 1/2″ (112 cm x 6.35 cm), most commonly containing 42 pieces per roll.
Each pieces is 10″ x 10″ (25.4 cm x 25.4 cm), most commonly containing 42 pieces per pack.
Each pieces is 5″ x 5″ (12.7 cm x 12.7 cm), most commonly containing 42 pieces per pack.
To put it all into Australian / Metrics perspective – here’s a visual guide showing the proportion of the precut in relation to a full bolt of fabric.
Patchwork cotton is generally 44″ (112 cm) in width, selvage to selvage.
In Australia / UK / Europe, fabric is sold by the metre – which is 100 cm or 40″. In the US they are sold by the yard, which is 91.44 cm or 36″. Whether you prefer the Metric or Imperial system, the world of patchwork seems to work better in inches, given that all your books, patterns and rulers are quoted in inches, and it’s easier to fathom a 1/4 inch seam instead of 6.35 mm (which is 0.635 cm). At least for me
Needless to say, most pre-cut fabric is based on the Imperial system. So your Fat Quarter will be 1/4 of a YARD (22″ x 18″), and the Fat Eighth will be 1/8 of a yard (22″ x 9″).
How Much Fabric Do You Actually Get?
Fat Quarter Bundle – if there are 40 pieces in a bundle, you’ll get 9.14 m. Best bang for your bucks!
Fat Eighth Bundle – let’s say there are 40 pieces, you’ll get 4.57 m. Half the amount of a Fat Quarter Bundle.
Jelly Roll – with 42 strips, you’ll end up with 2.67 m of fabric. Best use for strip-piecing, and a great time saver!
Layer Cake – 42 x 10″ squares will give you around 2.67 m of fabric. Same as Jelly Rolls, and that’s why they are normally the same price.
Charm Pack – 42 x 5″ squares will give you around 0.67 m of fabric. You can actually get 4 Charms Packs out of a Layer Cake!
Just to give you an idea – one standard bolt of patchwork fabric is around 7.5 yards, which is about 6.8 m.
To minimise the fraying, your Jelly Rolls / Layer Cakes and Charm Packs come with pinked (“zigzag”) edges. Use the outer points of the pinked edges as if it’s the straight edge of the fabric so that your 1/4″ seam allowances will be accurate.
Sometimes different brands of precuts can vary slightly in size. So measure your precut pieces before you start stitching, measuring from the outer points of the pinked edges, and then trim to the same size if you need.
Should You Prewash Precuts?
In a word – NO.
These days in age, quality patchwork fabric (e.g. Moda) come with fairly minimal shrinkage, and the dye quality has improved a lot so the colours don’t tend to run.
In any case, most finished patchwork quilts tend to be “special” and won’t be as heavily used as your doona – that means you don’t often need to wash it. And if you do, you can do it in your front loader with the right quilt wash products in cool temperature – the quilts generally come out fine, with a lovely vintage look and feel over time.
Having said that, if your quilt is for a baby or toddler, they will get loved and washed frequently. All the ones I’ve made have aged surprisingly well, with the colours fading gracefully in a similar way to denim. The mums and kids loved them!
Can’t wait to have a go? Here are some pre-cut fabric to get you started….
P.S. If you’re wondering how many packs you need for your quilt, go read THIS article