Quilting Basics: Fabric Pre-Cuts

by | Jan 31, 2021 | Quilting Basics | 0 comments

Let’s talk pre-cuts… they are a wonderful thing!! So maybe the whole thought of needing to go out and figure out all the colors you want for your quilt and making sure they look good together, and then cutting it and making sure you know how to cut things straight is just a bit daunting. Ah, that’s where pre-cuts come in!

Pre-cuts are fabulous, because they are a collection of fabrics that are all in the same line, so they match, the colors and designs all match. You don’t have to think about whether various sets of fabrics are going to go well together or not because it’s already pre-done for you. They also comes in pre-cut sizes, no cutting!

There are a variety of different types of pre-cuts, so let’s get started.

Mini Charm Packs

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Mini Charm Packs are 2-1/2″ squares. The package here is Turning Leaves by Moda, and it has 42 squares in the package. The key thing to note with your pre-cuts is each different type of pre- cut can have a different number of squares in it. So make sure you look at it so it matches your pattern and you have enough mini charm packs.

Charm Packs

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Up next up are Charm packs. Charm packs are 5″ squares. This one is from Northcott and it has 36 pieces. So there were 42 in the 2-1/2″ Mini Charm pack, but only 36 in this particular Charm Pack. So pay attention to that! This and the Mini-Charm Pack oth have pinked edges, in that case you want to sew on the very farthest edge out. That’s where you want to start matching your quarter inch and sew.

Layer Cakes

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Up next is the Layer Cake pre-cut, which are 10″ squares. Maybe you’re thinking, WOW, that’d be kind of boring using just 10″ squares in my quilt! Well, yeah, but here’s the thing, the Layer Cakes, you can slice them and dice them like a cake any way you want. There are even ‘recipes’ out there you can purchase at your quilt store. Or you can find and incredible number of designs out on the internet with free patterns. Therefore these are really handy. So this one comes with layer cake. All Moda Layer Cakes contain 42 10″ x 10″ swatches.

Jelly Roll

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Okay, next up is your Jelly Roll, these are fun! These are 2-1/2″ strips by the width of the fabric. So generally 42 inches with your salvage, and you’re going to make sure you cut off the salvage before you start cutting into your, your Jelly Roll. There’s a lot of really fun things you can do with these. They come in rolls or flat packaging, it all depends on the who the manufacturer is. These Jelly Rolls shown here both have 40 pieces. I love the jelly rolls as they are so easy to work with and you can find a ton of patterns in books or free online.

Fat Quaters

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Fat Quarters are probably the most commonly referred to pre-cuts. You can get fat quarter bundles that come from a manufacturer, or it may be a set that your fabric store has chosen to pre-cut and have prepared and put in a bundle of matching fabrics. Or, a lot of times you’ll go into quilt store and you’ll find a rack or a shelf of all sorts of pre-cut fat quarters, which is really nice… and they’re kind of addictive!

A fat quarter is a yard of fabric that is cut in equal dimensions into four equal rectangles. They’re approximately 18″ x 22″, and they’re just a handy size. It’s so much easier to get more cut out of a fat quarter versus a normal quarter yard cut.

Some things to consider

There are a few things you might want to consider when deciding whether to use pre-cuts or not. For example, maybe you’re a new quilter, the 5″ Charm Packs would make a great way to get started with the piecing aspect and quickly put together a patchwork quilt. You’re still need to match your seams, but the fabrics are pre-selected and pre-cut so you’re ready to go quickly.

But long term you need to be thinking about the fact that pre-cuts are are probably going to be a lot more costly when you’re looking at it per square inch of fabric versus buying off the bolt and getting what you need. Because obviously pre-cuts take more processing, cutting that the manufacturer is doing versus wrapping a bolt of fabric. So keep that in mind, especially if you’re on a budget.

They’re really handy though, when oh my gosh, somebody’s having a baby, and you didn’t know and you need something fast. Go grab yourself some pre-cuts and you’re ready to go quickly.

You also want to make sure you check the sizes of each of the pieces in the package. As you’re using them just do a quick measure, because you know what, nobody’s perfect, not even a machine that cuts these. Every once in a while you may find something in there that isn’t quite right, toss it off to the side so you know that it is not an accurate size, so it doesn’t screw things up.

I mentioned before your pre-cuts come in a variety of different counts per package. Make sure if you’ve got a pattern picked out and you know how many squares you need, make sure you have enough, don’t assume, always look at the package because different brands, different sizes, different numbers per package. As sometimes pieces aren’t quite the right size, I’d also recommend you make sure to have some extras. If you need 40 pieces and the package has 40 pieces, I’d get 2, just in case some of the cuts aren’t quite right.

On Jelly rolls, make sure you remove the salvage as you don’t want to use that in your quilt.

The cool thing about all of these pre-cuts is there are free patterns up the wazoo on the Internet. Just go out and Google free patterns for jelly rolls, or what ever the pre-cut you want to use and you’ll find a ton of patterns!! There’s some really pretty patterns out there. And hey, it doesn’t need to be a pattern that’s all Jelly Roll either. You can combine jelly rolls with charm packs and have a really cool quilt.

The other thing about fabric in general and patterns and free patterns if you want to keep things on a budget. A lot of manufacturers, if you go out to their website have free patterns for their fabric. I know when I’m flipping through quilt magazines, and I see a really pretty pattern for a new line of fabric. I’m like, Oh, that’s so pretty. A lot of times it will have a URL to the pattern on their website or maybe even if it doesn’t go out to their website and a lot of times they’ll have that pattern free because they want you to go by their fabric and use it in that pattern. That’s another great way to keep your budget down when you’re doing quilts, you don’t have to go out and buy a ton of patterns because there’s a lot out there today. With that said, make sure when you’re getting patterns off the internet that they are intended to be free for your use, otherwise, pay for them.

Watch the Video

Check out my YouTube video, The Basics – Quilting Fabric, I start talking about pre-cuts at the 11:57 min mark.


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