A yard is a way to measure length in both the USA and Britain. Its most popular form is on the football field. As a quilter, it is my favorite measurement. When I talk with my husband, I say things like “No, it’s about a yard wide.” You see, I have a visual burnt into my mind: the cutting mat. It is slightly smaller than 36” depending on the mat you have. They have about half an inch around the cutting grid of free space so you don’t cut your table (or parents’ pool table. Sorry mom, that wasn’t me).  Thirty-six inches, the same as one yard or three feet. There are so many ways to break down the yard. Even more ways to cut a yard.  You can even make your own pre-cuts.

Unlocking the yard and make your own pre-cuts

The reason why I started contemplating the yard is because when I go to the fabric store, I always feel so silly. I know how many inches I need. Not how many yards I need. The thing is, many stores will only cut to the closest yard. As I dive deeper into writing patterns, I have learned that the standard is also to specify the closest yard as a fabric requirement. All hail the mighty yard! 

Let us take a journey down the rabbit hole as we unlock the yard. Here we will go over the traditional cuts of fabric and precut sizes so you can make your own pre-cuts. Why would you want to make your own pre-cuts? Well, there are some great patterns out there that use pre-cuts, but you might want to control the amount of times a color repeats. So let’s get started.

The traditional yard can be broken into fourths, thirds, and eighths. These are staples in our quilting world. Here is how they break down.


The yard in fourths

1/4 – 9”
2/4 – 18”  (or 1/2 yard)
3/4 – 27”
4/4 – 36”  (or 1 yard)

The yard in thirds

1/3 – 12”
2/3 – 24”
3/3 – 36”  (or 1 yard)

The yard in eighths

1/8 – 4.5”
2/8 – 9”
3/8 – 13.5”
4/8 – 18”  (or 1/2 yard)
5/8 – 22.5”
6/8 – 27”
7/8 – 31.5”
8/8 – 36”  (or 1 yard)

Next we have our fat quarters & eighths.

This is a little flexible. Some stores cut it smaller, but essentially it is half a yard (which is 18”) cut in half. Now this is where it gets tricky because a fabric width on the bolt can be different. This depends on the fabric manufacturer. The width could be 40” but it could also be 44”.  To be safe, I am going to use 40” as my fabric width standard in this post, so you won’t be short. Making a fat quarter is 18” x 20” and a fat eighth is 9” by 20”. I have heard horror stories where someone bought fat quarters and they only got 16”. So be aware that there can be differences here.

make your own pre-cut

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty fun stuff, the pre-cuts.

Make your own pre-cuts

The Layer Cake or 10” stacker is just that, a 10” square.
The amount of fabrics can vary depending on the manufacturer of a fabric shop, but there is a great variety in fabrics and they are all meant to match. They usually have a whole line of fabric included or a color way of a line. However some stores create their own, pulling from their full store for their palette.

To make your own (10” square) 40 piece stack of fabric, you will need 2 7/8 yards. Cut four squares out of the fabric width. Do this ten times. To mix it up, get a 1/3 cut of 10 different fabrics. Cut four 10” squares out of each fabric.

Another staple in the quilting world is the charm square, nickel, or 5” stacker. It is a 5” square.
To make your own 40 piece stack of 5” fabrics, you will need 3/4 of a yard of one fabric. Mixing this one up gets a little tricky. If you get five different fabrics at a 1/4 a yard, you will have a nice variety of five different fabrics, but you will have waste. So I lean to making an extra big pack, 80 pieces. For this, you would need five different fabrics also, but they would be 1/3 of a yard. This would be your biggest bang for your buck.

Learn how to make your own pre-cuts like Fat Quarters, Mini Charms, Charms, Layer Cakes and Jelley Rolls

The list goes on and on . . .

Mini Charm – 2.5” square
This can be cut from a 1/4 of a yard. Cut sixteen 2.5” squares from the width three times for a total of forty-eight 2.5” squares.

Jelly Roll – 2.5” strip, selvage to selvage
The can be cut from 3 yards of fabric. To mix it up, use 3/8 of a yard of eight fabrics for a total of 40 strips.

Honey Bun – 1.5” strip, selvage to selvage.
This can be cut from 1 2/3 yards of fabric. To mix it up, use 1/4 cut of 13 different fabrics.

With so much info I thought it would be nice to have it as a pocket guide. To download and print your own pocket guide to unlocking the yard, click here.

If you would like to see some pre-cuts I have for sale, click here.

Well, I hope you enjoy this rich morsel of information and share it on Pinterest so others can can fall down this rabbit hole with us. Have a wonderful week!