1. ruth czirr says:

    Not quite correct. FQ’s are a basic unit of measurement in the modern quilting world — FQ’s are usually *not* remnants (the last bit left on a bolt) but are cut by shopowners from bolts in stock. Most quilt shops will cut a few FQ’s out of every bolt they get into stock. It’s a “fat” quarter because an ordinary quarter yard in a garment-fabric shop would be 44 x 9 inches, a long & narrow strip not suited to cutting many shapes.

    Significance: By offering the 18 x 22 shape instead, folding them and displaying them attractively, retailers converted fabric from a cut-to-measure process (with lines at the cutting table) into an impulse item. They also encouraged heavy users to adopt the “more is more” aesthetic of espoused by many designers: instead of making a quilt out of one blue fabric and one yellow one, use 20 blues and 20 yellows, each bought in small quantities. Also, the FQ has become the basic unit for swapping fabric among quilters and the building block of most quilters’ fabric “stashes”

    In the last few years the term “fat eighth” has come into common use — half of a FQ, 18 x 11 inches — usually for more expensive fabrics such as silks or batiks.


    Some shops even specialize in them:
    (google on fat quarter to see many)

    M’Liss Rae Hawley’s 1999 best-selling book used the term in its title, but it was in use at least several years before that

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