Thursday, January 5, 2012

ABC of Quilting Post # 4

Today's topic is Designer Fabric... And our guest for today is none other than our favorite shop that deals with loads of designer fabric - The Fat Quarter Shop

Kate Spain, Me & My Sister Designs, Jo Morton, The Quilted Fish, McKenna Ryan… 

I see all of these names, but what do they mean?

Fabric Designers in the quilting industry are similar to the fashion industry.  We have our own designer brands and names.  Some of the designers even print their designs on stationary, plates and cell phone cases.  Each designer has their own specific style.  So if you like one of their collections, there is a good chance you will like their next one!  Of course every once in a while each designer might go out of their comfort zone and design something completely different.

Another fun thing about quilting fabric designers is that they each have completely different roots. Some started because they quilt or sew, others started off being painters, stationary designers, and one even started from his hit TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

Fat quarters, charm packs, jelly rolls, layer cakes…they all sound so delicious, but just what are they?

Whether you’re a newbie or oldie at quilting you might start scratching your head and repeat the statement above.  Well, scratch no more, my friends.  All of these scrumptious terms simply refer to pre-cut sizes of fabrics that quilters adore. They will shorten your cutting time and give you an affordable way to purchase an entire collection of fabric without breaking the bank, saving time and money!

Here is an unofficial guide to the wonderful world of fabric precuts that will hopefully clear up confusion:

Fat Quarters

Fat Quarters are cut that measure 18” x 21”.  They were the first specialty cut on the market, and now the most common.  

What makes it fat?  A traditional ¼ yard of fabric is cut from selvedge to selvedge (bolt end to bolt end), which gives you a piece measuring 9” x 42”.  The traditional cut is less flexible in terms of cutting options.  An 18” x 21” piece gives you a squarer cut with the same amount of fabric and allows you to achieve more cut sizes.

Click to view the selection of Fat Quarter Bundles ( available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Fat Quarter example quilts in our patterns section.

Charm Pack

In the quilting world, a charm is a 5” x 5” square of fabric.  These are the smallest of the precuts, and depending on the fabric company, each charm pack usually contains at least one of each print in the line. These charm squares are great for easy patchwork quilts. You can sew these up without slicing and dicing and – voila, quilt top done! Next to Fat Quarter Bundles, charm packs are the most standard precut on the market and the least expensive.

Click to view the selection of Charm Packs ( available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Charm Pack example quilts in our patterns section.

Jelly Roll

Moda coined the term Jelly Roll for their cute, round fabric treats.  A Jelly Roll has 2 ½” x 44” strips of fabric (cut from selvedge to selvedge), rolled up and tied. These strips can be used to achieve many fun, scrappy effects. Try sewing several strips together along the length, slicing them into 2” sections, and mixing up the subcuts as an easy patchwork method. Or start with a 2” square cut and keep adding strips along the sides for a log cabin effect. The possibilities are plentiful! A few other fabric companies have followed suit, offering 2 ½” strips under other names.
Click to view the selection of Jelly Rolls ( ) available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Jelly Roll example quilts in our patterns section.

Layer Cake

A Layer Cake is like a giant, super-sized charm pack! Whereas a charm square is 5” x 5”, a Layer Cake (also dreamed up by Moda) is made up of 10” x 10” cuts of fabric. This gives you a lot to play with, especially for larger-scaled prints.  If you need to cut shapes for appliqué or squares of different sizes, Layer Cakes are your best bet.  Other fabric companies are now offering 10” x 10” squares as well under other names.
Click to view the selection of Layer Cakes ( available at Fat Quarter Shop
Click to view Jelly Roll example quilts in our patterns section.

That’s just a quick overview of the most popular precuts on the market. For more precuts, details & information, check out Fat Quarter Shop’s Guide to Specialty Cuts ( Thanks to 13 Woodhouse Road for letting us ramble on about these awesome products!

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