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Pros & Cons of Precut Fabric

Precuts or precut fabrics are a popular way to buy fabric for quilting. The bundles are perfect for quick projects and getting a coordinated but scrappy look without any effort, however, they aren’t for everyone!

Let’s get into why you might or might not want to add them to your sewing stash. Just remember, sewing and quilting is very personal and my reasons to love something might be your reason to hate it!

3 Reasons to Quilt with Precuts

I’m a huge fan of precuts, both because I’m lazy and because I love scrappy quilts. In a minute we’re going to go over a few reasons you might want to avoid precuts but first, let’s celebrate them!

Cut Back on Cutting

I hate cutting fabric, that’s not true, I hate sewing on borders and will literally avoid a project for months because of it, but I really don’t like cutting.

Check out 4 Ways to Make Quilt Patterns Bigger

It’s stressful and I really need to work myself up to it. If I only have one talent in life, it’s psyching myself out over absolutely nothing.

Starting with precuts means most of your cutting (or all of it) is done for you and you can just start sewing.

This makes them great for beginners (one less hill to climb to get started) or for a project you just need to get done, like a last-minute gift or for a charity event in 24 hours.

Most quit patterns require some accent fabric, either in backgrounds or borders, so you’ll probably need to do a little bit of cutting but certainly a lot less than a whole quilt.

cozy corners layer cake quilt made from red, greeb, gray and cream flannel prints hanging in a tree surrounded by snow

If you’re looking for a quick quilt with no background fabric check out my Cozy Corners Layer Cake Quilt. All you need is a bundle of 10″ squares and fabric for the backing and binding.

close up of disappearing nine patch quilt block made with charm squares

They also make perfect disappearing nine patches! I used a charm pack to make my Scrappy Disappearing Nine Patch Table Runner.

Learn more about Disappearing 9 Patch Blocks & how to use them in a quilt

Large Variety of Prints for a Scrappy Look

Precuts are perfect if you like the scrappy look and you want to put a dozen or more fabrics into a project without having to get yardage.

pumpkin lattice quilt made with Hello Fall Fabrics from Henry Glass

If you’re buying fabric online you’re usually looking at a 1/2-yard or one-yard minimum, that’s how I bought the fabric for my scrappy Pumpkin Lattice quilt (I really like pumpkins) and I ended up spending a fortune and having a huge pile of leftovers.

Grabbing a fat quarter bundle, layer cake or jelly roll sets you up for a perfect scrappy project without needing to use any brain power.

jelly waves quilt pattern sewn with batik jelly roll strips
Jelly Waves quilt made with cool tone batik Jelly Roll

It’s also handy for those of us drawn entirely to large-scale prints, when fabric lines are created there is usually a carefully calculated blend of small, medium, and large-scale prints.

Left to my own devices my projects would all be very one dimensional.

Precoordinated Prints

If you’ve ever tried to match colors online you know it’s impossible. I can’t tell you how many pieces of red fabric I ordered trying to match a Washington State Cougars print.

Working with precuts guarantees everything is going to work together right out of the gate.

Some online fabric shops will even offer up recommendations for coordinating solids when you pick out your precuts which is helpful even if you’re skipping the bundles and just buying yardage.

I’m not a huge fan of solids so I like to use one of the more subtle prints for my background fabric even if it means I need to cut a few squares or strips from my border or backing fabric to make up for removing a print from the patchwork.


Precuts are so popular that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of patterns designed around them. A simple Google search for “jelly roll pattern” or “layer cake pattern” is certain to hook you up with all of the inspiration you need.

Howden is one of my favorite Jelly Roll patterns, it’s a quick project and I love the outcome

I’m not saying all of those patterns can’t be adapted to use yardage, fabric is the fabric after all.

Just there is no denying it’s way faster and takes a lot less brainpower to just grab a layer cake and some background fabric to start a project.

Another way that precuts are convenient is also a bit of a downfall depending on your buying habits. It seems like every 3 months a whole new round of irresistible fabric pops up.

It can be really tempting to get a little bit of everything you like, then one day you look back and have a room bursting at the seams with fabric that you can’t easily use because nothing goes together.

Grabbing a charm pack, jelly roll or even fat quarter bundle lets you scratch that shopping itch while also guaranteeing you’ll end up with something useable in your stash.

Of course that can also devolve into hoarding precuts but let’s move on.

The Argument Against Buying Precuts:

It’s only fair to look at both sides of the coin. Quilting is incredibly personal and the only way to really know what works for you is either through trial and error (expensive) or by reading about someone else’s experience (free but occasionally questionable).


Quilting is an expensive hobby and working with precuts is going to put more strain on your budget than just buying yardage.

Quality quilting cotton usually runs from $7-$16+ dollars a yard with basics and solids being cheaper and fabric with glitter or metallic accents costing more.

three fat quarter bundles including a small Halloween bundle, a bright rainbow bundle and large bundle with autumn colors

Fat Quarter Bundles will range from $25 for small bundles all the way to well over a hundred for large ones.

One exception is buying precuts on deep clearance, which at this point, is the only time I buy them. Sometimes you’ll even find a deal where the precuts are cheaper than buying yardage.

The biggest issue with waiting for a good sale is that the fabric you want might sell out before then.

Honestly, I think the fabric manufacturers do a really good job creating FOMO and the truth is even if you miss out on something you love chances are something similar will be available soon.

I buy the vast majority of my precuts from Green Fairy Quilts, they constantly run sales and you can get some really good deals on charm packs, layer cakes, jelly rolls, and fat quarter bundles.

Not Always Perfect

In my opinion, this is the biggest issue you’ll see with charm packs, layer cakes, and jelly rolls.

There really isn’t a way to avoid getting imperfect precuts, especially if you’re buying them online. For the most part, I’m pretty adaptable and I’ll grumble to myself but I’ll usually just work around the issues.

But if you get precuts that are unusable, or you just don’t want to pay for something that isn’t right, make sure you reach out to the company that sold you the fabric ASAP.

The majority of precuts I’ve worked with have been fine. But a few issues stand out in my mind.

I distinctly remember sitting at my sewing machine wanting to bang my head against the table because I could not, for the life of me, get my blocks to line up. In that instance, I wasn’t actually the problem.

A mis-cut layer cake almost made me throw my sewing machine through the window when I was making this Cake Show quilt

My layer cake wasn’t 10″ by 10″, it was closer to 10″ x 9 3/4″ which was just enough to really throw me off on about 1/2 the blocks.

On the bright side, I was pretty happy to find out it wasn’t my pattern that was the issue but precuts are expensive and it sucks to not get what you pay for.

I’ve also had a Jelly Roll that wasn’t cut straight and a handful of strips had an elbow in the center. It was only off by about 1/4 of an inch but it was enough to put some unneeded strain on my sewing.

Jordan Fabrics does a lot of in-house cutting and I’ve never had a bad experience with them. Their hand-cut charm packs, jelly rolls, and layer cakes have straight sides which means no pinked edges!

Make sure you see “Matt’s Pre-Cuts” in the title because they also carry precuts from Moda and other manufacturers. The hand-cut precuts are usually made from lines that don’t offer traditional precuts so it’s your only chance to get a jelly roll or charm pack in a particular line.

Only Get a Few of Each Print

I don’t know about you but there are always a few prints in a line that really light my fire and get my quilting mojo going. When you buy a layer cake you’ll only get 1-3 pieces of those fabrics.

5 charm squares from Moda showing coordinating colors in a single line

In general, the more fabrics there are in a line, the fewer repeats you’ll have. I’ve also noticed a tendency toward repeating the more… boring low-volume prints over the really exciting stuff.

One way to make up for it is to pick up yardage in your favorite prints, either for borders or backing. I tend to make the same size quilts over and over (I’m a sucker for a throw quilt) and I know if I get 4 yards for backing and 1-2 yards for borders I’m safe.

Bad for Large Prints

There is no way around this one, if you’re using precut fabrics you’re going to end up with weird and potentially unusable squares. And fussy cutting is nearly impossible.

single block from Cake Show quilt made from Spooky Hallow Halloween fabric showing off fussy cut center block

I made a version of my Cake Show quilt with a Spooky Hollow layer cake and I ended up with some odd-looking pieces (aka headless trick-or-treaters).

The main large-scale print in that line was spaced out groupings of people and thanks to luck and the placement of my particular layer cake I missed out on the adorable vampires and got lots of the witches and mummies.

In the end, the layer cake made the rest of the quilt so much faster but I wish I had picked up a half yard of the larger prints to fussy cut my centers.

How do you feel about precuts? Are you a fan, do you hate them or are you somewhere in the middle? I’d love to know in the comments!

Check out my Quilting page for more info or start here:

stack of quilting precuts including fat quarter bundle, layer cake, charm pack, mini charm pack, jelly roll and honey bun with text overlay "everything you need to know about precut fabric for quilting"
four stacked fabric jelly rolls against a white background on top of several loose 2.5 inch strips
cozy corners quilt sewn with red, green, cream and gray flannel displayed in a tree surrounded by snow with text overlay "cozy corners layer cake quilt pattern"