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Fabric Shopping 101

A beginner's guide to visiting a quilt shop.

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What Are Fat Quarters...and Fussy-Cutting?


Fat Quarter: A 1/4-yard piece of 44/45"-wide fabric that is cut in a different configuration from a traditional 1/4-yard cut, which measures 9x44". To get a fat quarter, a 1/2-yard piece of fabric (18x44") is cut in half crosswise, yielding two 18x22" pieces, each of which is a "fat" quarter yard.

Fat Eighth: Fat Eighth: An 1/8-yard piece of 44/45" fabric that is cut in a different configuration from a traditional 1/8-yard cut, which measures 4-1/2x44". To get a fat eighth, a traditional 1/4-yard piece of fabric (9x44") is cut in half crosswise, yielding two 9x22" pieces, each of which is a "fat" eighth yard.

Fussy-Cutting: Some patterns are perfect for showcasing a particular print, which may require you to "fussy-cut" certain pieces in the blocks. Fussy-cutting means isolating and cutting out a specific motif or print. For example, you may want a specific flower in a floral print to be the center of a star block.

To fussy-cut, place a see-through template in the shape you desire over the selected motif, trace the shape, and cut it out. Fussy-cutting does take more fabric, so buy extra if you know you want to use this technique.

Novelty Print: Also called conversation prints, these fabrics are printed with themed motifs that might represent holidays, hobbies, nursery rhymes, or even cartoon characters.

Large-scale prints make wonderful focus fabrics and can determine the color and mood of a project. They also make great borders or quilt backs, so you might want to buy a greater amount.

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