It’s so easy to pick up fat quarters when you’re in a quilt shop, isn’t it? My problem is deciding how to use them when they begin to pile up at home. I’ve used nine fat quarters in this quilt pattern and used strip piecing so that it really is a simple quilt to make. I say that brightly, having made two major mistakes when I made it – but more of that later! As well as the fat quarters in dark colours, I have used 3/4 yard of white fabric and the quilt measures 43″ by 56″.
Nine fat quarters, each one cut into a strip 9.1/2″ wide and a strip 7.1/2″ wide
1.1/2″ strips of white fabric cut across the width of fabric – nine for the quilt and five for the border
Making the fat quarter quilt
As I’m sure you are aware, a fat quarter of fabric measures broadly 18″ by 21″. It is made by cutting half a yard of fabric and then cutting that piece in half along the fabric fold line. This gives you a piece of fabric that is half a yard long and half the width of fabric wide. Place a fat quarter with the 18″ side across, so that the white selvage is running from side to side. Line this up with one of the lines on your cutting mat. In the photo I have folded the bottom of the fabric up so that it all fits on the mat.
Trim the edge to give a straight edge and then cut one strip 9.1/2″ wide and another strip 7.1/2″ wide. That more or less uses up your fat quarter completely.
Sew a 1.1/2″ white strip to the long edge of each of these fat quarter strips. Press the seam – normally I would say press the seam allowance towards the dark fabric but I found that quite difficult to do so I pressed the seam allowance towards the white fabric.
Cut at 1.1/2″ intervals to make strips that are either 10.1/2″ long or 8.1/2″ long.
Sew three of the 10.1/2″ strips end to end and sew three of the 8.1/2″ strips end to end. Place the strips so that the white square is always on the right hand side. Sew these two strips together so that you have one long strip made of three 10.1/2″ strips followed by three 8.1/2″ strips with white squares between each strip and one at the right hand end but not at the left hand end. This is one complete row of the fat quarter quilt.
Repeat with all the fat quarter strips. I ended up with forty one rows. Don’t worry if you have one more or one less row – fabric width varies so the number of strips that you are able to cut from each fat quarter will also vary.
When you place one row underneath another, all the white squares and fat quarter strips will line up with each other which isn’t terribly interesting, as shown on the left. However if you reverse the second row so that the 8.1/2″ strips are on the left then the white squares no longer line up. I feel that this gives a lot more interest to the quilt. You will also have a white square at the end of alternate rows on each side.
Fat quarter quilt border
Sew the rows to each other. I was aiming for random placement of the colours within the quilt but as so often happens when I try for random, I ended up with clumps of colour in places. In fact I quite liked that look, luckily.
For the border I have used 1.1/2″ strips of white fabric. This gives rather a nice dog tooth effect on the two short sides. Sew one 41.1/2″ length to each side of the quilt and then one 56.1/2″ length to the top and the bottom of the quilt.
That completes the top of the fat quarter quilt. It is now ready for layering, quilting and binding. Full details of these steps can be found in the beginner quilting section.
How you can avoid my mistakes
I mentioned right at the beginning that I had made two major mistakes. The first one was that I cut some of the white strips at 2″ rather than 1.1/2″. There is no excuse for this other than lack of concentration. I’m blaming this on the New Year’s Eve champagne! The age old rule ‘measure twice and cut once’ applies here. The white squares were a mixture of 2″ or 1.1/2″ across each row which meant that the rows were different lengths – and I didn’t notice right up until I began sewing the rows together. By that time my only options were either to unpick the seams across each row or adjust the length of the shorter rows by adding a bit of fabric at the end, as you can see in the photo.
My second mistake was that I sewed all the rows together beginning with the left hand side of the quilt. I often do that, but for this particular quilt it made a difference because there are so many rows and they are only 1.1/2″ wide. What happened was that my fat quarter quilt began to skew – the only way that I will ever get it to lie flat will be by unpicking all the rows and starting again. The correct method to sew these rows together is to begin at alternate ends: sew one seam from the left hand side of the quilt and the next seam from the right hand side.
So there you have it – my mistakes that I could have just not mentioned, but I feel that these quilt patterns are more useful to you if you see some of the potential problems. Here’s the video: