Confessions of a Fat Quarter Addict

I am a self-admitted fat quarter addict. I oftentimes refer to fat quarters as “little pieces of candy”. And I love candy. I am a scrappy quilter therefore, I never buy large yardages of fabric except for backgrounds, borders, or backs. I buy only fat quarters unless it’s a super-special fabric that I know I can get a lot of use out of, and then I buy half a yard. Purchasing fat quarters also eliminates the need to stand in line at the cutting table. You wouldn’t think that a quilter could be an impatient person, but yes it happens. I am an impatient quilter. Most quilt shops pre-cut fat quarters and have them fancifully displayed around the shop making them quick and easy to grab and go.

Fat quarters arrived in the quilting universe sometime in the 1980’s. A fat quarter is ¼ yard of fabric cut 18” x 22” rather than 9” x 44”. This is nearly a square cut of fabric rather than a long, skinny strip, making it more usable for quilting. So, when you impulsively need to buy fabric (you know what I’m talking about, right?!), you grab a fat quarter of that fabulous fabric and go home feeling happy, happy, happy. Add that fat quarter to your collection of other fabrics you bought because they were pretty, not because you actually needed them for any specific project, and you are building yourself a wonderful stash! Haven’t we all accepted the fact that we will have to write our stashes into our wills because our stashes seem to grow faster than we can sew?

As you can see, I am in fact, a fat quarter addict. I have two cabinets in my main quilting room that contain all of my most-used fat quarters. I keep them sorted by color and it brings me joy just to open the cabinet doors and gaze upon all the pretty stacks of fabric. I keep all of my lesser-used fat quarters in clear plastic boxes in my basement sewing area (traditional fabrics, solids, holiday, novelty, etc.).

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My Fat Quarter cabinets containing my main palette

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All the pretty fat quarters – so yummy!!

The problem that some people run into is “stash guilt” – that feeling that you should not buy any new fabric until you use up the hoards of fabric that you already own. Luckily, I have no stash guilt (although my bank account often tells me that I should have some guilt). Finding pretty fabrics is all part of the fun, in my opinion. But I certainly understand the guilt and there is a great solution – fat quarter quilts. Fat quarter quilts are quilts that are made entirely or mostly with fat quarters. A fabulous way to make a dent in your stash!

Last year I was mesmerized by Tula Pink’s Pom Pom & Stripes and Solids collections. I ordered (guilt-free LOL) a fat quarter bundle of the Pom Poms and Stripes and a bundle of the solids and then wanted to find a fun use for them. The perfect solution was a fat quarter quilt. I made Picnic by Maria Umhey using the Tula fat quarters – the only additional yardage I had to get was for the back. Ok, so I cheated because I acquired new fat quarters for my quilt and used nothing from my stash. What can I say? Stash happens.

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Tula Pink’s Pom Pom & Stripe Fat Quarter Bundle

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My version of the Picnic quilt, Pom Pom Parade.

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Gratuitous Dog-on-a-Quilt Photo

So whether you have a stash full of fat quarters that need a use, you are having an urge to make a dent in your stash, you want to make a charity quilt using fabrics you already own, or if you impulse purchased an entire beautiful bundle of fat quarters but have no plan for it, we’ve got some patterns to provide you with inspiration and direction. Our Fat Quarter Pattern Collection includes fat quarter projects for everyone. There are 10 patterns that range in difficulty from easy to intermediate and include piecing, appliqué, a mix of modern and traditional patterns, a sampler quilt, and a Quilt of Valor® design.

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Of Thee I Sing Quilt by Kathy Munkelwitz; Finished Size: 64″ x 76″; Finished Blocks: 56 (8″) blocks; Project Rating: Easy

Of Thee I Sing was designed by Kathy Munkelwitz, a veteran Quilts of Valor® quilt maker. “I love stars of any kind,” she says. Kathy came up with two simple blocks using her red, tan, and blue fat quarter stash to create this beautiful Quilt of Valor®. For more information on making a Quilt of Valor® click here.

As a side note, for an incredibly compelling read, check out Trudy Cleveland’s photo essay of her experience making and donating a Quilt of Valor®.

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Fat Quarter Sampler; Finished Size: 69″ x 93″; Finished Blocks: varies; Project Rating: Intermediate

Make a scrap quilt using easy quilting techniques with this fabulous Fat Quarter Sampler. This twin-size patchwork design uses simple piecing, Flying Geese, half- and quarter-square triangles and a bit of appliqué.

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Six Pack Quilt by Lynette Jensen; Finished Size 52″ x 55″; Project Rating: Easy

Who doesn’t have a collection of fat quarters just waiting for the perfect pattern? This is it, quilters. You’ll want to make Six Pack over and over. Grab a six pack of fat quarters and get sewing!

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Cubbyholes Quilt by Marianne Fons; Quilt size: 55″ x 75″; Finished Blocks: 165 (5″) blocks; Project Rating: Easy

“The center light and dark squares in these quilt blocks will remind you of little compartments,” say Marianne Fons, designer of Cubbyholes. The simple blocks work up fast, and you can easily switch colors to fit your décor.”

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Bedazzled Quilt by Vanessa Goertzen; Quilt size: 60″ x 72″; Finished Blocks: 30 (12″) blocks; Project Rating: Intermediate

Bedazzled is made with 15 fat quarters that come together in fast, easy blocks. Surprise! We provide three size options so you can tailor it to fit your needs.

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Will You Walk Into My Parlor Quilt by Tony Jacobson; Quilt size: 72″ x 90″; Finished Blocks: 20 (18″) blocks; Project Rating: Intermediate

Using goodly portions of his red and tan scraps, designer Tony Jacobson wove a spider’s web that’s not to be denied. Cutting diagrams and strip-pieced Nine-Patches make sure you will not get stuck when making Will You Walk Into My Parlor.

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Petals Quilt by Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting; Quilt size: 79″ x 79″; Project Rating: Easy

Create a time-worn, slightly faded look with a simple idea and a great collection of fabrics. The petal pieces are big and fun to machine appliqué.

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Criss & Cross Quilt by Sandra Clemons; Quilt size: 73″ x 83″; Project Rating: Intermediate

Criss & Cross is a piecer’s dream. Step-by-step photos teach you some of our favorite piecing techniques, adding even more fun to this charming project.

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Color Study Quilt by Kristine Peterson; Quilt size: 54″ x 84″; Project Rating: Easy

Inspired by a quilt designed by Janine Burke of Blue Underground Studio, Kristine Peterson used solid-color cottons for her striking creation, Color Study. BONUS! Alternate size options are included.

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Gumdrops Quilt by Nancy Mahoney; Finished Blocks: 30 (8″) blocks; Quilt size: 50″ x 58″; Project Rating: Intermediate

You’ll love working with the brightly colored fabrics in Gumdrops. Piecing and appliqué combine to make this fun-filled quilt.

Happy fat quarter quilting!

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