Common Fabric Sizes

If you do several different sewing projects (or at least plan on it) then you will run into several different types of cuts of fabric.  What is the difference between a fat quarter and a fat eighth?  Well, here is a list of some of the most common fabric sizes and some of their uses.

Yard – A yard is 36 inches in length but the width can range depending on the fabric type and company selling it.  Although quilting cottons typically range from 42” to 44” wide, there are some materials that are a lot more or less in width.  Most advertised prices in stores will be “By the Yard” or “Per Yard”.  There is usually several yards of fabric on a bolt from the manufacturer.  Many projects require a purchase of a full yard of material or more.

Half Yard – A half yard is 18 inches in length and the width varies by fabric and company.   Some online companies will offer their fabric “By the Half Yard” because many people don’t need a full yard of fabric.  Although regular stores do not advertise their prices in half yard cuts it is still possible to purchase only a half yard.

Quarter Yard – A regular quarter yard cut is 9” in length (a quarter of a full yard) and the width is based on the fabric.  This measurement is often confused with the fat quarter cut.  Retail stores are willing to sell fabric from the bolt at a quarter yard increment.

Fat Quarter – A fat quarter is one fourth of a yard of fabric and will usually measure 18” x 21”.  This measurement will vary depending on the width of the fabric you are using.  If the fabric is 44” wide then the cut will be 18” x 22”.  This is a very common measurement in many projects such as baby burp cloths, blankets, patchwork, appliqué and strip piecing.  Many patterns will require a start of a fat quarter because it allows you to have a larger chunk of material to work with as opposed to a regular quarter yard.

Fat Eighth – This is simply half of a fat quarter and will typically measure about 18” x 10”.  This measurement will vary as well due to fabric width.  You may see pieces that are 18” x 11”.  A fat eighth can be cut either lengthwise or widthwise depending on the project or your preference.  These are used in quilts, bags, and appliqué as well as many other projects.

Square – The measurements for squares vary based on projects.  It is simply a square piece of fabric with all 4 sides measuring the same.  Many common square measurements are 3” x 3”, 4” x 4”, 5” x 5”, 6” x 6” and 9” x 9”.  Obviously the range for squares can be anything.  Quilting is probably the most commonly related sewing projects related to squares but there are many other projects such as patchwork and toys.


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