Fat Quarters (and why you might need them)

by Melissa

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When I first started collecting quilt weight fabric, I bought WAY TOO MUCH of the prints that I liked.  It was part fear that I would never see it again, and part worry that I would want to make something large-- like a dress or tunic-- and wouldn't have enough on hand.  It didn't take long to realize that 1. fresh, new designs were coming out all the time, and 2. nobody wanted to see me wrapped up in big swaths of quilt weight cotton covered in balloons and children frolicking about (for example).

Fat quarters came to my rescue.  They are rectangle shaped cuts approximately 18" by 22", that accommodate for more flexible pattern and shape cutting than a traditional quarter (which is usually 9" by 44" or so).  Most people think they are just for quilters but I love them for all sorts of smaller projects. They are perfect cuts for making bias tape, starting patchwork projects, sewing napkins, and making accessories for you or your home. 

The most important bit, however, is that they can get a fabric collector started in a big way.  Bolt carries fat quarter packs (some are grouped by designer/line with complementary colors mixed in) and they also sell them individually.  I got started buying and using up these sweet pieces as a way to get my fabric fix.  They are wonderful pieces to have on hand for last minute wrapping (drawstring bags), or for sewing together as-is for a fast, all over print quilt.  Then the prints that I can't get enough of?  I am happy to justify yardage for quilt backs and pj pants.  Buying fabric can be a slippery slope. 

Books at Bolt that can help a fat quarter sing:

I Love Patchwork! 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects to Sew, by Rashida Coleman Hale 

Patchwork Style by Suzuko Koseki

Kaffe Fassett books (Bolt carries a few different books from this brilliant quilt designer)

Edited to say:   The bias tape link does not include the actual cutting "on the bias", so to do that, you'd need to cut your fabric in strips at a 45 degree angle.  Also, Amy Karol's book, Bend the Rules Sewing (which Bolt also carries), has a nifty way to cut and sew continuous bias strips.