Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for fat quarter

Just like any niche market - hobby, sect, clique, group, occupation etc Patchwork and Quilting has its own set of words that are unique to it... either unique because the words are only applicable within that niche market or because the word has its own special meaning when used within that group. The more deeply you become enmeshed within that group the more words you discover that do have specialised meanings. As you become familiar with the words they become commonplace, their meaning obvious and you forget that their meaning might not be obvious. 

The problem with these special niche words is that they can make newcomers feel at best confused and at worst excluded. It can make the group feel like an exclusive clique trying to repel all boarders. I have to say most quilters that I have met are NOT like this at all. Quilters are generally happy to see interest in their craft - delighted to welcome new enthusiasts - keen to share their addiction. However, it doesn't meant that the newcomer or the person unfamiliar with your hobby might not feel confused or excluded.

The word that I have most often had to explain to people in my circles is Fat Quarter. To the uninitiated this is totally bewidlerign. Case in point. My immediate family (ie husband and kids... on this blog known as Fixit Guy, Fangirl, The Beast, Kombi Kid(or boy) and Boyo) share Christmas hint lists to enable more thoughtful giving. I had put (surprise surprise) fabric on mine and Kombi Kid had asked for clarification and so I had said fat quarters of tone on tone cream or white fabric. He basically said HUH? I told him to just ask the lady in the shop. He did. He said he actually showed her my text message and she was able to assist. (he told me that initially he thought I was having him on.. .like telling him to get a litre of striped paint). Another friend was going to be staying for a few days whilst attending a training day and wanted to bring us a hostess gift. His wife told him to go to Spotlight and get some fat quarters. His goggle eyes made her also tell him... just ask the shop assistant. 

So what is a FAT QUARTER - this is a measure of fabric. In metric using country it is a 50cm cut of fabric (ie .5  or one half of a metre) that is then cut in half width ways So its a quarter of a metre cut of fabric. In USA its a half a yard cut in half.

    Image result for fat quarters definition

Most shops that sell quilting fabric will sell an array of fat quarters. The price is usually a little more than if you bought a 1/4 metre of fabric (known as a skinny quarter sometimes) but it is already cut and it means that for larger prints you get more of the pattern. Being pre cut it means it is quicker to buy as well and makes a nice little memento of a visit and a lovely gift to a fellow quilter.

Many fabric lines now sell fat quarter bundles - a fat quarter of each piece of fabric from a particular line of fabric (ie fabrics released together usually by one designer, that all co-ordinate.) These are very popular especially with on-line stores. Massdrop sell many fabric bundles and I have to admit to having purchased a number of them.

Obi by Hyakka Ryoran

Neko by Hyakka Ryoran

Andover Chambray

Chillingsworth"s Bicycle race

Andover Chambray

Fat quarters were probably the original pre-cut. Precut bundles are now readily available. The most popular ones are:
  • 2.5" x width of fabric strips (sometimes known as jelly rolls - the name developed by one manufacturer)
  • 5" squares (charm squares)
  • 10" squares (layer cake)
Together with fat quarters these cuts have many patterns written especially for them. Missouri Star Quilt company has many of them featured on their You Tube channel.

1 comment:

  1. I always look through the fat quarter section when I'm at the fabric store. I'm in the US, and I had NO idea that fat quarters were shorter here.