It doesn’t take long for many quilters to end up with a bunch of random fat quarters in their collections and have to face the question of “Now what?” They’re too big to be considered scraps, but not large enough to be considered yardage. How does one put them to use in a satisfying way?
The thing about a single fat quarter is that it’s hard to treat it as “precious”—there’s just not enough there for it to be the focus fabric in anything but the smallest of projects. If it came as part of a bundle from a collection, then it has brothers and sisters that should all play nicely together when used to make a quilt.
But pulling together disparate fat quarters can result in patchwork just as stunning…
I wrote those paragraphs a few months ago in a previous Workshop Wednesday called “Fantastic Fat Quarter Quilts.” One blog post was simply not enough to cover different ways of how to use fat quarters in fabulous quilts, though, so I’m back with some more ideas.
While some of the quilt patterns shown below are also available as kits, I think all of them would look smashing made with curated assortments of fat quarters pulled from what you might already have on hand. Let’s take a look!
Stars & Chevrons is a 60½” x 75½” patriotic throw quilt that calls for 28 assorted red, cream and navy fat quarters. This pattern is a great place to use shirtings, blenders and other small-scale prints.
Bugs in a Bottle is a cute toddler quilt that features—you guessed it—bugs in bottles, which are cut from 10 novelty fat quarters. A kit containing the bug fabrics you need is available, but you could also adapt the pattern to showcase a variety of novelty prints. After all, lots of things fit into bottles, like beauty supplies, sweet treats, sewing notions, hardware… you get the idea. If you’ve been collecting novelty prints around a theme, this might make the perfect wall hanging to put them on display.
Along those lines, Handyman is tailormade to showcase 12 novelty woodworking prints. Again, a kit is available to make fabric selection easy, or you could pull together a selection of 12 fat quarters from your own collection to include in this 60” x 72” throw.
Full Bloom is a lovely 55” x 67” throw quilt that offers you the perfect opportunity to assemble 20 of your prettiest floral fat quarters to show off in the blocks. The assorted green leaves can be cut from any green tone-on-tones, textures and solids you may have on hand, whether fat quarters or scraps.
Sprockets is a fun pattern that can be personalized to use any variety of 21 fat quarters, and offers a great opportunity to play fabrics off of each other and arrange them according to value. On the other hand, a completely random arrangement could result in a scrappy look that just sparkles. (If you’re interested in this particular arrangement, a kit is available for this one, too.)
Sometimes you can turn a scrappy quilt into a fat quarter quilt with a tiny bit of math. If the cutting is fairly uniform, you can estimate how many fat quarters you would need in each color family. Twisted Logs by Nancy Mahony was written for yardage, but I think it could lend itself well to being made with fat quarters. According to a rough estimation, I think you could make this quilt with 2 medium red FQ’s, 4 dark red FQ’s, 5 white print FQ’s, 1 black/gray FQ, 2 or 3 black print FQ’s, 5 deep black print FQ’s, and 7 cream print FQ’s in addition to yardage needed for the borders. As long as you keep the focus on the interplay between fabric values, you could swap any number of color combinations for the original colors.
Similarly, the pattern for Comfy Cabin was not written for fat quarters but for the total yardages needed for assorted red, gold, orange, brown and black prints to make this king-size bed quilt. According to my estimation, you would need at least 14 red FQ’s, 6 gold FQ’s, 10 orange FQ’s, 10 brown FQ’s, and 8 black FQ’s, plus yardage for the cream and tan fabrics indicated in the pattern.
For a bevy of fabulous patterns written specifically to help you get the most out of your fat quarters, check out the Quilters Newsletter special issues Best Fat Quarter Quilts 2011, Best Fat Quarter Quilts 2012, and Best Fat Quarter Quilts 2014, all of which are available as digital editions. These are a fantastic value considering each issue contains 25 patterns or more.
We also have some fabulous FREE fat quarter patterns available on our website that you can download right now, such as a traditional Ohio Star quilt pattern designed by Liz Porter, a lap quilt version of Pixie Sticks designed by Debby Kratovil, and the popular Cross & Crown pattern available as a twin-bed pattern. Meanwhile, the Quilt Patterns Using Fat Quarters eBook contains four Fons & Porter patterns. And all of them are free!
Well I don’t know about you, but all of a sudden I am itching to dig through my fabric at home to play with new ways to combine my collection of fat quarters. There are just too many great quilts that need to be made!