Fat quarters are a fantastic resource for sewists. If you're not familiar with them, you've been missing out! Typically made of quilting cotton, each is the same total area as a quarter yard of fabric, but cut in a nearly square rectangle instead of a long, narrow strip. Most fabric supply stores, especially those that cater to quilters, will have hundreds of different fat quarters available in every imaginable color and print. They provide the perfect palette for colorful projects, and not only quilts! Check out these 18 ideas for fun things to sew using fat quarters!
1. Travel game boards
Take chess or checkers on the road with a simple roll-up game board! This is a perfect project for sewists looking to learn how to do basic piecing projects. You'll need fat quarters in two different colors, plus additional material as backing and sashing if you prefer. Make sure to measure and cut carefully, and keep your seam allowances consistent. This will help keep your corners neatly aligned.
2. Quilted coasters
Another opportunity to practice your piecing techniques, or try out some quilting designs on a small canvas. You can make an entire set of coasters from just a fat quarter or two, depending on your preferred color palette. Try out miniature quilt blocks, or keep things simple with a color-blocked design. Just make sure that if you use any materials other than cotton that they're suitable for high heat. No one wants their coaster to melt under a hot cup of coffee!
3. Decorative bias tape
Bias tape is an excellent way to finish curved edges like armscyes and necklines. It's also a great way to add a pop of color to accent your sewing projects, and, with a fat quarter on hand, incredibly easy to make. You can make single strips if you plan on only using short lengths, but for longer seams, you can whip up a continuous strip that's almost laughably easy.
4. Zip pouches
These trendy little sewing projects are a brilliant masterclass in techniques. There's a reason so many sewing classes include them in the curriculum! Not only can you play with piecing and shaping, but there's also inserting the zipper, adding interfacing, finishing edges, lining...the list goes on and on. Best of all, since they're so versatile, you can make a whole range of designs for all kinds of occasions, from organizing the kitchen to packing for your big vacation.
5. Patchwork curtains
Pretty patchwork curtains are a boho decorator's dream. Mix and match a whole range of colors and textures to create a whimsical look. For more durable (and attractive) curtains, plan to either line them, or to use finishing techniques that give your seams a neat appearance on both sides, like flat felling. You should also keep in mind that some printed fat quarters only have the design on one side, so if you want your curtains to look sharp from every angle, try to find designs that are reversible.
6. Drawstring bags
These simple projects are the zip pouch's simpler cousin. With no fancy equipment required, they can even be made by hand, but, like all bags, there is an almost infinite variety of options to work with. Make a large monogrammed laundry bag to send with a new college student, or a tiny bag to keep jewelry neat while traveling. A drawstring backpack is an easy project for a new sewist, while a complex, pieced fabric design makes for a beautiful way to present a gift—or a beautiful gift itself! Don't be afraid to get creative and experiment.
7. Colorful wallets
These are a hit at craft shows! Quick and easy to make, but brightly colored and attractive, wallets made from fat quarters can be easily customized and embellished. Just remember to avoid using magnetic clasps, as they can wreak havoc on credit cards.
8. Pattern weight set
Still using pins to hold down your pattern pieces? When used with a cutting mat and rotary cutter, pattern weights are a huge time saver! Stitch up tiny pouches, and fill with dry rice. Next time you get ready to cut out a big project, lay out your pattern and secure with your weights. If your pattern has strong creases or wrinkles, run a warm iron over it to get it smooth and flat.
9. Fat quarter skirt
No matter your age, there's a fat quarter skirt that's perfect, from a handkerchief-hemmed option for toddlers to a boho chic patchwork version for their moms! Keep in mind that quilting cotton doesn't have much stretch to it naturally. Draping skirts on the bias can improve the way they swing and sway, and add a bit more comfort to the finished piece.
10. Bow ties and pocket squares
So often, we overlook the fun projects for the gentlemen! These classy accessories make fantastic groomsmen's gifts, or just a great addition to your usual suit-and-tie ensemble. Pocket squares can be made by simply hemming a small square of material. Bow ties, especially hand-tied bow ties, are a little trickier, but not too tough for a beginner if you're willing to practice a bit. Check out this tutorial for some pro-tips on turning out the perfect tie.
11. Sewing machine cover
When it comes to keeping your sewing machine in tip-top shape, dust is the enemy. Your machine will already generate enough fiber and lint in the course of regular use to keep you busy scrubbing it clean, so why invite any more? Whip up a quick cover to keep your machine well protected, and add a bit of style to your sewing space.
12. Napkin sets
Whether you're looking for a housewarming gift or just a last minute finishing touch to your own dining table, a set of fabric napkins is always a good choice. All they require is a quick hem, and you've got plenty of options to choose from. A serged edge, a simple rolled hem, or a fancier mitered version will all make excellent finishes for this quick project.
13. Stuffed toys
Though not as cuddly as their plush counterparts, stuffed toys made with fat quarters pack a lot of personality! Think about ways to use the patterns and colors in interesting ways—like using pieced hexagons in a variety of colors to create a turtle's shell, or experimenting with applique for butterfly wings!
14. Mini tote bag
A single fat quarter isn't quite enough to make a full sized tote bag, but it's perfect for a mini! Make mini totes for children, or to use as gift bags. For handles, you can use nylon webbing, ribbon, or cut a strip from your fat quarter and sew your own!
15. Clutch purses
Heading out for a night on the town? Don't forget your clutch purse! And with that ever-growing stash of fat quarters, you'll want to make one to match all your favorite outfits. Check out this quick and easy version that features a simple envelope design and contrasting lining!
16. Pillowcase dress
The pillowcase dress is a staple for sewists and parents alike! It's simple to shape and looks absolutely adorable on little ones. Essentially, it's a sleeveless dress made with just two rectangles gathered at the neckline using a ribbon. From there, the options are endless! Add ruffles and frills, or keep it basic for an easy-to-change play dress that you don't mind getting grubby.
17. Storage pods
Who says storage has to be boring? These organic-looking pods are a fun way to keep track of little things, from wayward bobbins in the sewing room to your keys by the front door. The curved shapes present a unique challenge, but they're also a great opportunity to practice your quilting and binding techniques! Try this pattern for help getting started.
And of course, how could we put together an entire list without including quilts? Baby quilts, full sized quilts, lap quilts, decorative quilts...there are so many options! And whether you're just starting to explore the worlds of quilting and piecing (yes, they're different!), you're sure to find something that suits your skills and interests. Some quilters focus on heirloom quilt blocks while others prefer bold modern shapes and patterns. With fat quarters, you don't have to invest too much time or material into a project to decide what works best for you. Just make sure you've got lots of scrap-busting projects on hand! Your fabric stash is about to get a whole lot bigger.
Fat quarters prove you don't need a lot of material to make a lot of different projects, and with so many different options available, there's so much room to get creative. They're perfect for beginning sewing projects, and for those quick go-to projects that make great last minute gifts. Do you have favorite fat quarter projects? Tips and tricks for pairing colors and prints? Share your comments below!