Does that quilting pattern you’d like to make call for the readily available fabric pre-cuts rather than specific yardages?
Here’s a simple guide to the different kinds of pre-cuts available.
Charm packs are collections of 5″ squares. The number of squares included in a charm pack differs by manufacturer or collection, so be sure to check the label. Also, note that sometimes fabrics are repeated in the grouping, so your charm pack may or may not contain all unique prints.
Purchasing a charm pack is a terrific ways to get a sampling of all the different fabrics in a new collection for a reasonable price. You can always get more of your favorite prints after you’ve had a chance to look at each piece.
See our post 8 Charm Pack Projects to Bust Your Stash for fun ideas on what to do with your charm packs.
Jelly Rolls are strips cut 2½” wide by the width of the fabric. This pre-cut is also known as “Rollie Pollies” and “Design Rolls.”
The number of pre-cut Jelly Roll strips varies depending on collection and fabric manufacturer.
Because the strips are width of fabric, these pre-cuts offer a lot of versatility. Not only are they wonderful for patterns which call specifically for Jelly Roll pre-cuts, but they are also good to use for bindings.
See also our roundup of Jelly Roll quilts.
The Layer Cake is another very useful pre-cut fabric. A Layer Cake is a collection of 10” x 10” squares. This pre-cut is also manufactured by several different fabric manufacturers. Layer Cakes are versatile because you can cut wider pieces from the squares. Also, a scrap quilt can go together quickly using such large squares.
Layer Cakes can be cut into fourths to make the equivalent of four charm packs, or they can be cut up in a lot of different combinations to create quilts.
Fat quarter bundles contain 18” x 22” pieces of fabric. You can also find bundles of “fat eighths,” which measure 9” x 22.”
These fabric bundles are the most versatile pre-cuts since they offer both width and a longer length for quilters to work with. Even though they priced higher than other pre-cuts, these bundles are usually the best value.
Fabrics from fat eighth and fat quarter bundles should be pressed before using them for quilt projects.
Also check out our roundup of FREE fat-quater quilt patterns.
Care must be taken when sewing with Charm Squares, Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes, since these pre-cuts often have pinked edges.
Some quilters prefer to trim the pinked edges before beginning to sew with these pre-cuts in order to ensure a uniform size of pieces and thus help to increase sewing accuracy.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2013 and was updated in January 2018.