Sewing Basics: Precut Fabric Sizes

In today’s Sewing Basics post, I’m going to demystify some of the mysterious fabric lingo you may be struggling with: the language of precut fabric sizes! I’ll also be sharing a video with some new fabrics I recently received from Benartex as examples.

  This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. I am a Benartex Brand Ambassador and this post is part of our ongoing collaboration. All opinions and words are my own. 

I’m a member of the Brand Ambassador team for Benartex this year and, as a result, I’ve been getting lots of goodies in the mail. This month’s shipment of fabric included several different types of precut fabrics, so I thought this would be the perfect time to explain everything a new sewist or quilter needs to know about precut fabric sizes! You can check out my unboxing video below to see what was in my precut fabrics box from Benartex and get to see some of the different precut fabric options.

If you can’t see the video above, click HERE to watch it on Facebook.

In this post, I’m going to share the answers to your frequently asked questions about precut fabric sizes. The fabrics that I’m sharing today are part of the Red Rhapsody collection and the Color Weave by The Contempo Studio collection from Benartex. You can find Benartex fabrics at your local quilt shop or online at Fat Quarter Shop | Amazon | Annie’s.

But first, what are precut fabrics?

Precut fabrics are packs of 100% cotton quilting fabric that have already cut to sizes that are popular for quilting. The benefits of buying precut fabrics are:

  • You can spend more time sewing and less time ironing and cutting,
  • You can try a lot of different fabrics without having a lot of wasted yardage,
  • There are plenty of “precut friendly” patterns available, especially for beginner sewists and quilters, and 
  • You can make beautiful projects simply by just sewing together the precut fabric pieces without making any “quilt blocks.”

There is but one downside to buying precut fabrics: Precut fabrics are more costly per yard than buying fabric yardage off the bolt. (You are paying for labor and convenience.) However, if you look out for sales, you can get precuts for the same price as yardage so yay!

What are the most popular precut fabric sizes?

There are some variations across fabric brands and in what different quilt shops offer, but generally you can find precut fabrics in fat quarters, strips, 5” squares, and 10” squares. Except for fat quarters, most precut fabrics are cut across the width of the fabric (WOF), which is typically somewhere between 40” to 45” in 100% cotton quilting fabrics. 

Fat quarters (FQ)

Fat quarters are a quarter (1/4) yard of fabric with a twist! Instead of being cut at 9” across the width of the fabric, the fabric is cut at the half yarn point at 18” and then cut across the length. This creates a piece that is 18” x half of the width of the fabric. Generally, fat quarters measure 18” x 22”, but some are a bit smaller (18” x 20” or 18” x 21”) based on the width of fabric and whether the selvedge is included in the width. You can get fat quarters individually at your local quilt shop or in bundles of all sizes. Fat quarters are the original precut fabric size, so you will find a lot of options for patterns that are “fat quarter friendly.”

2-1/2″ fabric strips

Fabric strips are my personal favorite size of precut fabric. I learned to quilt using the Eleanor Burns Quilt in a Day book, and her patterns really inspired many quilters to begin strip piecing, which led to 2-1/2″ strips being sold as precuts. Benartex calls their 2-1/2″ strips Strip-Pies, and there are usually 40 in each pack (just over 2-3/4 yards of fabric).

5” squares and 10” squares

5” squares of fabric are sometimes called nickels or charm packs. In each Benartex pack of 5” squares, you will usually find 42 squares (approximately 3/4 yard of fabric). 10” squares are sometimes called dimes or layer cakes.

In each Benartex back of 10” squares, you will usually find 42 squares (approximately 3 yards of fabric). Both sizes can be pieced together just as squares, combined (with the 5″ squares sewn together 2×2 next to each 10″ square), but a lot of people also use both sizes to make simple half square triangle patterns.

I hope this post has helped you distinguish between different types of precut fabric sizes. If you have any questions about precut fabrics, let me know!

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