In Praise of Pre-Cuts

Having piles and piles of fabrics in pretty folded stacks is lovely, but really, it can take over your space in shockingly little time.  We know how hard it is to resist those gorgeous colours, especially the easy way the designers make the whole collection go together.  If you could see the sewing rooms of our staffers, you’d know we understand!

This is where the little packages of pre-cut fabrics come into play.  These beauties come in lots of different dimensions, and with at least one piece of every fabric in the whole colourway – so you don’t miss out on a single print!

Let’s go through some of the names, sizes and benefits…like, what you can do with each of them.


Fat Quarters :

Whether they come in bundles or singles, this will net you the largest little piece of fabric.  They are 1/4 of a metre (or yard, if you shop in the States), but not cut straight across the width.  Fat Quarters are fat because a full metre is cut in half widthwise, then in half lengthwise.  Think of a square, divided into even, square quarters.  Fat Quarters aren’t perfect squares, though; they usually measure somewhere around 50×55 cm (18×24″).

It is rare to find a full collection in a Fat Quarter bundle, but KONA Cottons have amazing full box sets of their lights and darks.

You can cut all kinds of quilting pieces from a Fat Quarter, including large squares, sashing strips, appliqué pieces, smaller squares (or triangles) and even binding strips, if you like that crazy, colourful, pieced look for your binding.


Layer Cakes & Treat Squares :

These are the biggest squares – next to Fat Quarters – measuring 10″ square (25.4 cm).  Use them on their own for big, simple blocks to make an instant quilt, or cut them into smaller squares or strips.

Try this free pattern for The Morris Apprentice Layer Cake and Jelly Rolls from Moda.


Charm Packs & Treat Minis :

The perfect size for carrying in your pocket, or pinning on your wall, Charm Packs are charming indeed.  Each piece measures 5″ square.  There are lots of books and patterns designed specifically for these pre-cuts.  Just stitching them all together is a wonderful way to showcase your favourite fabrics all at once, with no sweating over cutting into precious yardage.

Here’s a basic 1 Charm Pack pattern from Moda.


Jelly Rolls, Treat Strips & Honey Buns :

Appealing to the eyes and hands, Jelly Rolls are 2.5″ strips, all neatly rolled up into a pretty little rainbow spiral.  Honey Buns are slightly skinnier at 1.5″ wide.  The strips are cut across the width of the fabric, and generally (but not always) have pinked edges (which reduces fraying).

Try this little bag pattern for Honey Buns from Moda.

If you are comfortable using not-straight-of-grain for binding, these strips are ready-made for you!  They’re also amazing for quick Log Cabin quilts or Rail Fence patterns, like this zig zag pattern one from Moda.  These strips are also perfect for borders, sashing strips or little squares.  But wait! There’s more….


Candy aka Mini Charms :  

Just when you thought things couldn’t get smaller…they come up with fabric Candy!  Teensy little swatches of 2.5″ squares are just as tempting and addictive as their name indicates.

Maximize the colours of the fabric line and make doll quilts, baby quilts, purses or bags.  Or, use these as setting/corner squares in conjunction with Jelly Roll sashing strips or borders.  String them all together for an incredible border, without sweating the cutting.


Click here to look at our Free Projects.  This pattern from Riley Blake is perfect for combining Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls and Mini Charms.


Top Five Reasons to praise pre-cuts:

1.  If you hate cutting out all those little pieces, or are scared of using a rotary cutter, pre-cuts are made to measure.

2.  For those who just can’t resist buying the entire line of fabric, but whose budget simply can’t stand another batch, pre-cuts fit the bill.

3.  Can’t decide on a colour?  Use them all!  Pre-cuts usually contain at least one of every fabric in the colourway, and they will all coordinate with each other – no fretting required.

4.  You can often find all the same fabrics in several sizes, including on the bolt.

5.  Their names are so delicious, and yet, calorie-free!  What’s not to love?