I know that there are many uses for a quarter of a metre of fabric; a skinny quarter, a quarter of a metre cut widthways across the fabric bolt. (Resulting in a piece of fabric that's 110cm wide and 25cm long (cut from a 110cm centimetre (45 inches) wide bolt)).
But, do you know what a fat quarter is?
If you're fairly new to patchwork or sewing you may not have come across this term before as it's measurement often used in patchwork, you'll sometimes see it abbreviated to FQ.
It's one of those lovely 'old' traditional measures at bit like a; span, pole, perch, rod and numerous others. It's really an imperial measure so it's based on inches, yards etc. but many shops, mine included, (Link) cut fat quarters based on a metric measurement so it's slightly larger. Basically however, it describes the following;
- Fabric usually (but not always) comes in bolts approximately 110cm (44/45 inches) wide and is usually cut in lengths down the bolt. For example one metre of fabric cut off a bolt will be 110cm (45 inches) across and one metre long.
- A fat quarter is a square cut of that fabric. Essentially it refers to a 1/2 metre (or 1/2 a yard of fabric ) which is cut in half across it's width.
- A metric fat quarter (There are approximately 39 inches in a metre) is bigger than an imperial fat quarter, which is based on 36 inches in a yard.
- A metric fat quarter results in a piece of fabric about 50cm by 55 cm (dependent upon the width of the fabric on the bolt).
- A fat quarter should 'cost', the same as a 'narrow cut' or long quarter metre/yard of fabric.
For patchworkers, or anyone who uses small pieces of fabric, a Fat Quarter is potentially more useful than a narrow 1/4 metre strip because;
- More of the fabric pattern is available to use. Particularly, if you like using large prints; such as some of Amy Butler's prints or Anna Maria Horner's.
- You can cut twelve 5 inch charm squares from a fat quarter (whether it's a metric or an imperial fat quarter) and only have enough fabric to cut eight from a skinny 1/4 metre of fabric.
- An FQ will allow you to use the lengthwise grain (this runs down/parallel to the selvedge) and so reduces the stetchiness of the fabric making it easier to work with in some projects.
- A fat quarter gives you a piece of fabric which can be used for sewing projects wider than 25 centimetres (9.8 inches). Therefore buying them to build/develop your fabric stash is not limiting you in the range of projects that they can be used for.