Demystifying Precuts

There are so many different ways to cut fabrics and, whilst precuts can be a sewist’s best friend, if you’re new to the world of precuts then it can all seem very confusing at first. If this is you then don’t worry – we’re here to help!

We’re all familiar with the idea of purchasing fabric off the roll – or bolt – by the metre or yard (goodness, I hadn’t realised there are actually so many ways to describe purchasing the most simple of cuts), but today in addition to selling fabrics by length many manufacturers now offer precuts – fabric cut to specific dimensions and generally offered by collection. Although the actual dimensions of these precuts aren’t standardised they don’t tend to vary by more than a couple of inches between manufacturers, and will be cut from the original bolt of fabric as shown in the diagram below.



Fat Quarters

These were the first, and are still the most common form of precut. They are rectangles measuring between 18” – 20” long and half the width of the original fabric. Many projects specify using a fat quarter of fabric – if you don’t have this actual cut to hand then it’s worth checking the pattern templates and instructions to see if you can use a differently cut or even oddments of fabric to achieve a good result.

Manufacturers often sell fat quarter bundles containing one of every print from a particular fabric collection – a great starting point for a large project or if you’re less confident about selecting your own colour combinations – fabrics in these bundles are certain to work well together.

Fat Eighths

A fat eighth is literally half of a fat quarter. It can be cut in two different ways however, which will affect how useful the fabric will be in any particular project. So do be careful to check the dimensions of a fat eighth carefully before purchasing to avoid any unwelcome surprises when you unpack your lovely new fabric at home. Manufacturers sometimes offer fat eighth bundles in addition to fat quarters.

Long Quarters

A long quarter is literally a quarter of a yard of fabric – also sometimes known as a thin quarter. They can be cut either across the bolt or lengthways. Normally you will find they’re cut across the bolt to take account of a larger pattern, perhaps one that runs the whole width of the fabric. Their long thin shape makes them less useful than fat quarters for most project and they’re not generally offered by manufacturers. You may find them in some fabric stores, so do be sure to check which way the fabric has been cut before purchasing.


Layer Cakes

Like fat quarter bundles, layer cakes are offered by manufacturers by fabric collection. They were introduced by Moda, but are now much more widely available. They measure 10” x 10” and each layer cake usually contains around 42 squares. They’re great for quilting projects as they’re guaranteed to be accurately cut (ahem!).

Jelly Rolls

Again, this is a term used by Moda, though other manufacturers also offer precuts of the same dimensions. A Jelly Roll (or its equivalent) contains different prints from a single collection rolled
together and cut length-wise into 2.5″ x width of original fabric strips. They usually include 40 strips of fabric but occasionally can vary.

Charm Pack

These include at least one 5” square from every fabric in a particular collection so the number of pieces included varies. The size may also vary slightly between manufacturer. They are one of the most popular precuts available, probably because they are affordable, easy to use, and the size is very common in quilting. Today you can also purchase Mini Charm packs from Moda where each precut is just 2.5” square! These are also known as Moda Candy.


We hope you’ve found this post useful – if you’ve got any tips for working with precuts please leave them in the comments below. We’d love to know!


Article originally appeared in Bustle & Sew Magazine

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