The excitement of a new quilting pattern—I’m not sure anything beats it! You scan the fabric requirements and dream of all the possibilities; you can smell the fabrics already! But then you are stopped in your tracks—Honey Buns?! Fat Eighths!? No, your pattern isn’t taunting you, I promise. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of pre-cut fabrics. I’m going to give you the full guide on these strange names and what they mean.
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A Fat Quarter makes a lot of sense for those who need a wide, rather than long, piece of fabric. For example, when you ask for a quarter yard cut, you’ll get a long, skinny piece of fabric that is about 9″ wide and 42″ long. But, maybe you only need a 15″ x 15″ square. It would be a huge waste to get an entire 1/2 yard of fabric. So, I give you the Fat Quarter! It’s cut by first cutting 1/2 yard off the bolt and then cutting that in half to create two squares that are about 18″ x 21″. A Fat Quarter and quarter yard has the same amount of square inches, just in a different arrangement. Typically a quilt store will already have Fat Quarters cut. In most cases, you should be able to ask for them to cut one for you if you can’t find one pre-cut!
Fat quarters are great for larger appliqué pieces, like the crane in my Building Blocks Quilt!
The Fat Eighth is the same idea as a Fat Quarter (above). Typically, if your store makes cuts as small as an eighth, you’d end up with a teeny tiny strip measuring about 4.5″ x 42.” With a Fat Eighth, you’d get a piece that measures 9″ x 21″ — much more useful for small appliqués and short strips. I haven’t come across a quilt store that will cut a Fat Eighth for you yet, but typically they come in bundles or kits.
Jelly Rolls, Honey Buns, Dessert Rolls, and Layer Cakes…I hope you don’t mind me snacking for this part of the guide! I’m not sure why quilters chose to name most pre-cuts after our favorite desserts, but they are cute names, so I guess I get it. Let’s start with Jelly Rolls!
Moda coined the term “Jelly Roll” and sells these bundles of 40 strips, each measuring 2-1/2″x44.” They bundle them up in a cute roll and tie them in a lovely little bow. It’s almost as irresistible as an actual Jelly Roll! They can be used for scrappy quilts, and quilts that need a lot of strips. Often if a pattern uses them, it’ll be referred to as a “Jelly Roll Quilt.”
Honey Buns are very similar to Jelly Rolls, just a little bit smaller. Typically, a Honey Bun will have forty 1-1/2″ x 44″ strips. These strips make for a very cute, very dainty stripe when used in quilts and pillows. There aren’t a ton of retailers that carry Honey Buns anymore, but they do exist from companies like Robert Kaufman.
Dessert Rolls are like the unpredictable, older sibling of Jelly Rolls and Honey Buns. Depending on the company, they vary on number and size, but generally measure about 5″ x 44,” and come in a set of 20 fabrics. You will always be able to know the exact number and size of the set by looking at the tag.
We’re going to finish up the food round with a big ol’ cake! Layer Cakes are one of my favorites. They can be used in so many ways! They have enough fabric to them for appliqués, cutting down into smaller blocks or just sewing together for a large block quilt! Layer Cakes are made up of 10″ x 10″ squares. Typically a set will include 40 different squares.
Well, if you haven’t started noticing a pattern yet, I’ll let you in on a secret: most pre-cuts are some variation on size of another pre-cut. The case is no different with Layer Cakes, Charm Packs, and mini-charm squares. Charm Packs are just a set of 40 5″ x 5″ squares. They are great for starter quilts or children who want to learn to quilt—simply lay out the squares how you’d like and start sewing!
Again, this is just the little baby sister of Charm Packs and Layer Cakes, but my goodness, they are a lot harder to resist! These packs usually have about 40 fabrics, each measuring just 2-1/2″ square! There’s something about the colorful, crisp, smallness of Charm Packs that I just can’t get over. They are like the candy at the register in the grocery store—they are cheap and they just look so good!
Let’s just start by saying that if you follow any quilter worth following on Instagram, you’ve seen load and loads of Hexies—these delicious pre-cuts are incredibly popular right now! Hexagons are such an interesting shape, but are pretty difficult to cut out on your own. These pre-cuts allow that interest and take away the hassle of cutting your own! Typically a pack will include about 40 pieces and can measure about 2″ or 6″ from point to point. And if Hexie isn’t a tasty enough name for you, Moda calls theirs “Honeycomb.”
Last, but not least, is the Turnover. This triangle pre-cut is not as common as what I’ve shown you above, but it is a great option for patterns that use triangles! These packs typically include 40 6″ or 10″ half-square triangles.
So, there you have it! Fabric pre-cuts are really quite lovely, and despite the snacking that might be inspired by their names, they really can save you a lot of time and money! I’d love to see the projects that you’ve created from your favorite pre-cuts in the comments below!