Quilting with Precuts

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It seems as though there is a never-ending list of questions when it comes to pre-cuts.

What’s a jelly roll? What are charm packs? Why do they call it a layer cake? Most importantly, what do you do with those things?

Well, we’re here to help! First, let us define these things, shall we?

Pre-cuts go by different names, depending on the manufacturer of the fabric. Moda has a whole “bake shop” which includes “charm packs”, “layer cakes”, “jelly rolls”, and “honey buns”. Northcott’s Stonehenge line has 5″ squares that they call “Stone Chips”. Hoffman has batik lines in 2.5″ bundles called “Bali Pops”. Many manufacturers make “charm squares”, which are packs of 5″ squares. We used the most widely-recognized names below.

Charm Pack/Charm Squares: A charm pack is a collection of about 40 different pieces of fabric, cut into 5″ squares. These  typically include all pieces from one line of fabric and depending on how many SKUs are in the line, there may be repeated SKUs in the charm pack.

Layer Cakes: A layer cake is exactly the same as a charm pack, except for one difference: the pieces are 10″ squares instead of 5″ squares. They still consist of about 40 different pieces and are typically made from one line of fabric.

Jelly Rolls/Bali Pops: Jelly Rolls (or Bali Pops, depending on which manufacturer is making them) are 2.5″ strips of fabric, rolled up to resemble a jelly roll you’d buy at the bakery (hungry yet?). Like the charm packs and layer cakes, these are made up of approximately 40 pieces from a line of fabric. Honey Buns are similar to Jelly Rolls, but they are made up on 1.5″ strips instead of 2.5″. We haven’t seen quite as many of these yet, but they may be on the up-and-coming list.

Why are precuts a good idea?  Well, they save time on cutting, increase cutting accuracy, and can provide you with an instant scrappy look without needing to accumulate a large stash!

So what are you supposed to do with these things? There are a number of things you can do with them! You can just sew them together as is for really quick projects.  You can mix and match sizes for more specific patterns.  You can even cut them up more to get specific sizes for a project. More and more books are appearing in quilt shops that deal specifically with pre-cuts. Many times, you can find patterns that are designed around pre-cuts, which can be rather fun.

Some people look at it as a challenge. Quilting with pre-cuts can be especially good for people who have trouble being scrappy. It forces you to be scrappy because you have 40 different pieces of fabric! If you often find yourself planning where every piece of fabric is going to go in your quilt top instead of randomizing it, like the pattern tells you to, quilting with pre-cuts might be a good thing for you.

We’ve mentioned Jelly Roll Races on the blog before, but they really are a fast and fun way to make a quilt top in an afternoon. There is practically zero waste involved. We have a lot of fun timing ourselves, so it’s something fun to keep in mind!

Hopefully we got the idea factory in your noggins fired up and thinking about pre-cuts. If you ever need assistance with pre-cuts, feel free to stop in or give us a call. We’d love to help show you the ropes!

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