Friday, August 3, 2012

How I Process (cut) Fat Quarters

Whenever I get new fat quarters, roughly half of them get cut up to be used in various scrappy projects.  The sizes that I tend to need are 10” squares, 5” squares (nickels), and 2½” strips. 

I typically do NOT prewash my fabrics.

I iron my fat quarters with Best Press.

I lay the fat quarter wrong side down on the cutting mat.  Typically I will stack and cut 4-5 fat quarters at a time.  The 18” side is at the edge of the table.


After I’ve stacked the fat quarters that I wish to cut, I fold them over … giving me an 18” long folded edge.


I place my Shape Cut Plus ruler over the stacked and folded fat quarters …


and make four cuts – at the 0”, 10”, 15” and 17½” marks.


Voila, now I have three segments to be sub-cut -- a 10” x 22” stack;  a 5” x 22” stack and a 2½” x 22” stack.


My 2½” strips get put in a small bin.


The 5” x 22” stack gets sub-cut into two stacks of 5” squares (or nickels).   I use the Quarter Cut ruler, making three cuts – at the 0”, 5” and 10” marks as indicated.


The resulting nickel squares get put in one of my Civil War repro nickel square bins.


All that is left is the 10” x 22” stack.  I sub-cut that also.  I use my Shape Cut Plus ruler to cut at the 0” and 10” marks.  This gives me a nice stack of 10” squares to put in my 10” square bin.


At this point I pull out the Shape Cut ruler and cut a few things from this remaining section of my fat quarter stack.   By cutting at the 0” and 5” marks, it gives me a 5” strip from which I can cut two more little stacks of nickel squares.  I *could* cut yet ANOTHER 5” strip by making a cut at the 10” mark, but since I’m cutting pieces for a Tumbler quilt right now, I need a strip that is 4½” wide.  So I make a cut at 9½” instead, which leaves me with enough space to cut a 2” strip at the end.  (*If your fabric shop has cut generously, you may have enough to cut another 2½” strip.  If you pre-wash your fabrics, you may only have enough room for a 1” or 1½” strip at this point.)


Here’s how it looks when I remove the ruler.


Here are the 5” squares being sub-cut down into two stacks of 5” squares using the Quarter Cut ruler.


And they go into one of my 5” nickel square bins.


The 2” strips go into a project bin for a Spool Block project that I’m collecting for.


And that 4½” x 22” segment that I mentioned earlier gets sub-cut into Tumbler blocks using the Creative Grids Tumbler ruler.


When the ruler is removed, you can see that I get two little stacks of tumblers.  Some excess waste on the right edge goes into the trash.  The excess on the left side is big enough that I’m saving those scraps for a neat project that I will be starting soon!



  1. This is a great post, do you have other fabrics then that you keep for borders, etc? I am always afraid that if I precut them in different sizes, I will later need a larger piece.

    1. Betty Lou ... I usually only cut about half of my fat quarters like I described in my post. If I'm out at a shop and bring home 10 fat quarters, half of them go in my fat quarter bins - the other half get cut up. I also belong to Keepsake Quilting's medley of the month club for Civil War repros - so every month when 6 FQ's arrive, I choose three to cut up, and three to keep whole. I also do a similar thing with fat eighth's - I'm in a monthly club that sends those out, and I generally cut ALL of those into pieces and put them in my smaller bins.