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Everything You Need To Know About Fabric Precuts

When I first started learning about sewing, and specifically quilting, I realized there was a lot of sewing lingo I needed to learn. The first thing that came up was fabric precuts. Things like fat quarters, jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc - they sounded fun (and sometimes delicious), but these precut names were very confusing for a quilting newbie.

Now I've used them all at one point or another and love them. So let's talk all about fabric precuts!

Quilting for Beginners - Everything you need to know about precuts

First, what is a precut?

A precut is fabric that has been cut for you. Precuts come in a bundle and the fabric has been cut into a uniform size. Often times, precut bundles contain every print (or almost every print) from an entire collection.

Precut Sizes

There are various precut sizes from fairly large to itty bitty, so let's go through them all real quick.

Precut Name Size and Definition
Fat Quarter Precut fabric measures 18" x 21-22" per piece.

The amount of fabric pieces per bundle varies. Bundles can be custom-curated or all come from one collection. Sometimes sold individually.
Fat Eights Precut fabric measures 9" x 21-22" per piece, sometimes 11" x 18".

The amount of fabric pieces per bundle varies. Bundles can be custom-curated or all come from one collection. Sometimes sold individually.
Layer Cakes 10" x 10" squares. Bundles include 40-42 squares, usually all from one collection.
Charm Packs 5" x 5" squares. Bundles include 40-42 squares, usually all from one collection.
Mini Charm Packs 2½" x 2½" squares. Bundles include 40-42 squares, usually all from one collection.
Jelly Rolls
(and Junior Jelly Rolls)
2½" x width of fabric (usually 42-44" wide). Bundles include 40-42 strips, usually all from one collection.

Junior Jelly Rolls have 20-21 strips.
Honey Buns 1½" x width of fabric (usually 42-44" wide). Bundles include 40-42 strips, usually all from one collection.
Fabric Precuts Infographic

Fat Quarters

Given that fat quarters are one of the most popular fabric precuts and lots of patterns are written for them (including some of mine!), I'll go into a little more detail about them.

Fat Quarters are one-fourth yard cut and have the same square inches as a traditional 1/4 yar cut, but a fat quarter usually measures 18" x 22".

To create a fat quarter, a yard of fabric is first cut in half along the fabric's length, then that piece is cut in half at its midpoint.

The longest side's dimension sometimes varies between 21" and 22" because some quilting fabrics are not 44" wide.

Fat quarters are popular because they allow for more flexibility when cutting pieces for your quilt top when compared to a traditional quarter yard cut.

Additionally, single fat quarters or bundles make for smart purchases when building up your stash.

Fat Quarter Friendly Patterns

Precut Tips

While working with precuts does certainly make things easier, here are a couple of tips.

  • Double Check Size - It's always a good idea to double-check the sizes of your precuts. Sometimes the cuts can be a little smaller or a little larger than the predetermined size. It's not unusual that a Fat Quarter will be just slightly smaller, or cut funky so when it's squared up, you lose some fabric. Additionally, sometimes jelly roll strips can be just a little off from the 2½" in width.
  • Prewashing - While I don't prewash my fabrics, I know a lot of quilters do. If you're a prewashing quilter, fat quarters are good to go, but I wouldn't recommend prewashing anything smaller than that. You'd lose too much fabric due to fraying and in the case of jelly rolls, you might end up with one big wad of fabric all tangled up together. Whatever you do, make sure to do the same for all the fabrics used in your quilt top - do not mix prewashed and non-prewashed fabrics.

Purchasing Precuts

Precuts are extremely popular and most shops sell them, but here are some of my favorite places where to get precuts!

Fabric Bubb - Lots of beautifully curated custom fat quarter bundles

Fat Quarter Shop - They carry all major fabric manufacturers and their respective precuts. You can browse through collections or precut type

Etsy - Etsy is stocked full of shops that have precuts available, some of my favorite include Simply Love Fabric, Fabric Stork, and The Cotton Bolt.

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