Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fat Quarter Fancy Work

Buttonwood Basket by Karla Menaugh
32" x 44-1/2"
Background pieced from fat quarters.

Fat Quarters are cut 18" x 22".

Fat quarters are easy to buy, easy to store and they seem inexpensive enough that we always pop a few extra into our stack at the checkout counter. 

There are plenty of designs for piecing with fat-quarter cuts, but several years ago Karla and I noticed that traditional applique designs ignore the contemporary fat quarter.

First of all, it's a rectangle cut, and most applique is designed for a square format.

Second, you don't get much area to work with. After you square up your edges, trim your selvage off and pre-wash the yardage we figure you can count on a rectangle 16-1/2" x 20-1/2".

We designed Buttonwood Basket baby quilt around those limitations.
Our theory: Buy two closely related fat quarters for the background.
Karla chose a woven stripe and woven check, same colors.

  1. After pre-washing and trimming square up the fat-quarters to 16-1/2" x 20-1/2".
  2. Cut each in half horizontally, resulting in 10-1/4" x 16-1/2" rectangles.
  3. Sew the rectangles together into a four patch pattern to make a background 20" x 32-1/2
The rectangular four-patch gives you a nice area for applique and if you are looking for rectangular designs:

Vintage applique quilts featuring baskets and vases of flowers are easily adapted.

The book gives you cutting instructions for adding more background.

The Virtual Store

We still have copies of the Fat Quarter Fancywork book with ideas for applique and fat quarters in our Sunflower Pattern Co-operative Etsy Store.


  1. I love pieced backgrounds for applique. These are all fabulous.

  2. Thanks very much! I have noticed the use of pieced backgrounds more and more and this is a good tip for adapting to that look.