Quilting 101: Understanding Pre-cuts

Quilting pre-cuts save you time in the sewing room, but with so many available how do you choose the right one for your project? Let's take a look at the most popular precuts to understand more!

Lately I've had a lot of emails from new quilters confused about pre-cut fabrics. With names like honey buns, jelly rolls and layer cakes, it sounds like we're spending time in the kitchen not the sewing room, right? There are so many available and I understand why they are confusing to new quilters.

Pre-cuts are bundles of fabric that have been cut into standard shapes and they contain the fabrics from a designer's collection to save you time cutting and choosing a balanced palette of colours and prints.

There are so many options when it comes to pre-cuts and it's important to know how and when to use them in your quilting journey. One lovely lady ask if she could make one of my designs using a charm pack, and yes she could, but it would require a large number of charm squares and it wasn't the most cost effective way to plan her quilt. 

Let's have a look at the most common pre-cuts going from the larger cuts to the smallest. These specialty cuts are based on the most common cuts quilters use, but they are approximate sizes as sizes vary depending on manufactures, and they are in imperial measurements. 

At the end of this post, I've provided a Quick Reference sheet for you to print and keep with all the pre-cuts and sizes right at your fingertips.

One Yard Bundles and Half Yard Bundles:

The one yard bundle is a collection of fabrics cut at approx. 36" long by 44" wide, so essentially a yard in length by the width of fabric. 

The collection can include anywhere from 18 - 44 fabrics, depending on the fabric company, fabric designers and prints in the collection. 

The half yard bundle is a collection of fabrics cut at approx. 18" long by 44" wide or half a yard in length by the width of fabric.

Quilt stores often curate their own one yard and half yard bundles when a new fabric line arrives. This is a great way to build up your stash and enjoy all the prints from a range.

Fat Quarter Bundle:

The fat quarter bundle is a collection of fabrics cut at approx. 18" long by 22" wide. Imagine a piece of fabric cut to one yard in length by the fabric width and then cut into quarters. Each quarter is wider than it is long, hence the name fat!

This is my favorite way to purchase fabric. You can sew a lot with a fat quarter, and you can build your stash quickly and easily, plus they look adorable all tied up in a bundle - too nice to open sometimes!

The number of fabrics in the bundle does depend on fabric companies and prints in the range. Be on the lookout for curated bundles of low volume fabrics or fabrics from one colourway of a range - these are fun to collect also!

Fat Eighth Bundle:

A fat eighth bundle is a collection of fabrics cut at approx. 9" long and 22" wide - essentially, it's a fat quarter cut in half across the width.

These are super cute and an affordable way to purchase a whole range of fabrics without breaking the bank.

Layer Cakes:

A layer cake is a collection of fabrics cut at 10" square. The layer cake is exclusive to Moda fabrics, but other fabric companies distribute them under the names Ten by Tens, Stackers, and 10" squares etc.

There are typically 42 fabrics in a layer cake, so depending on the fabric range you may receive multiples of some of the prints - this can be useful when you need a little more of one print.

Pre-cuts like layer cakes, jelly rolls, charm squares etc. have a pinked edge all around. They are cut by machine and you may find small inconsistencies, so measure your squares carefully before cutting.

Jolly Bars:

Jolly bars are exclusive to the Fat Quarter Shop and they are a collection of fabrics cut at 5" x 10" - essentially half a layer cake square.

There are typically 42 fabrics in a jolly bar so you may receive duplicates of different prints.

The Fat Quarter shop have lots of jolly bar patterns available and sell kits to make it even easier for you.

Jelly Rolls:

A jelly roll is a collection of typically 40 Moda fabric strips cut at 2 1/2" x 42" wide that has been rolled and tied with ribbon to keep them all together.

Other fabric companies call these Rollie Polies, Roll Ups, Pops and Strip Sets.

Depending on the fabric line, they may be multiples of different prints.

These are great for piecing quilts quickly and easily and there are tonnes of patterns out there to try, plus there's an annual Jelly Roll Day on the third Saturday in September that will inspire you with fun pattern ideas.

Honey Buns:

Honey buns are the same as jelly rolls, but the strips are cut at 1 1/2" x 42". These are exclusive to Moda fabrics.

Both jelly rolls and the honey buns make strip piecing quick and easy for quilters, and leftover strips make sweet scrappy quilts. Leftover jelly roll strips are perfect for bindings.

Charm Packs:

Charm packs are a collection of typically 42 Moda fabrics squares cut at 5" square. These are cute and perfect for quick projects, and usually quite affordable.

Charm squares are perfect for 5" or 2 1/2" cuts as there's no waste. 

Mini Charm Packs:

Mini charm packs are a collection of typically 42 Moda fabric squares cut at 2 1/2" square. You can never have too many 2 1/2" squares and these little cuties give you a sweet sampling of a fabric collection without all the cutting.

Collect them and mix and match fabric lines in an affordable way for scrappy quilts or projects.

We're attracted to pre-cut bundles in the quilt shop because they look pretty and all the hard work of choosing fabrics has been done for us, but sometimes it's difficult to know what to use them for.  

I suggest you buy the smaller pre-cuts with a project in mind that suits the cut - in other words, find a pattern that you love first, and then choose the pre-cut! Designers produce patterns specifically for pre-cuts and there's little to no waste which makes them perfect.

For other patterns, look at the largest cut required for the project and choose the most cost effective pre-cut. I've put together a Quick Reference Chart for you to download and print, and you can keep this in your sewing space for all your quilt planning.

Simply click on the link to download and print your free Quick Reference Chart:

Precuts are fun, cost effective and a huge time saver in the sewing room. They're a great way to enhance your stash and quilters love them!

Make them a part of your quilting journey too! 


Happy quilting :)
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