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By the Yard: Quilting with Precuts Is a Piece of Cake

Posted by Jen Lopez on Jul 24th 2019

When I first started quilting back in 2003, I was not at all familiar with the lingo. I legitimately thought a “charm pack” was a fabric with small prints of animals or other small figures on them—you know, like a charm bracelet. Similarly, I thought a “fat quarter” was slightly more than a quarter of a yard. At the time, this didn’t make sense to me—why would anyone sell you more than a quarter of a yard for the same price?

Of course, I was wrong about both of these. It can get confusing with all the food-related naming conventions and other verbiage. Let’s try to clear up a bit of the mystery by taking a look at some of the more popular precuts:

  • Charm Pack: A collection of usually 40 precut 5” squares; one of the easiest precuts to use in making a quilt. Also makes an easy and colorful tote bag.
  • Layer Cake: A collection of 40 precut 10” squares.
  • Jelly Roll: A collection of 40 precut 2 ½” strips, 44/45” long (i.e. the width of the fabric, a.k.a. WOF). Great for “Jelly Roll Race” and other quick-to-assemble quilts.
  • Bali Pop: A Batik “jelly roll” folded flat on a card to look like a popsicle. Bali Pops are Hoffman brand and are usually batiks.
  • Crackers: Another Hoffman batik product; this is their version of a layer cake.
  • Snaps: The Hoffman batik version of a charm pack.
  • Minis: A collection of precut 2 ½” squares; really fun for small projects such as doll quilts or placemats.
  • Fat Quarter: A 22” x 18” piece of fabric; it is basically a 1/2 yard cut in half along the length of the fabric. There are many quilt patterns that cater to the ever-useful fat quarter.
  • Fat Eighth: Here is where is gets tricky—a fat eighth can be either 11” x 18” or 22” x 9”, although typically it is the former.

Precuts are almost always fabrics selected from a particular collection, so the colors go together beautifully. I don’t know about you, but for me the hardest part of making a quilt is always choosing fabrics that complement each other.

No matter how you slice it, working with precuts is a fun and easy way to get quilting!

Please join us here every other Wednesday for another fun, fiber-filled installment of By the Yard. You can also find the newest development from By the Yard, the 2020 Wall Calendar for Quilters at, sure to keep you in stitches all year long.

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