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Eat dessert first...

Eat dessert first...

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I've always liked that adage - "life is uncertain, eat dessert first."

It explains why I'm not a Size 4 - genetics notwithstanding - and it explains why I am such a pushover for every single incarnation of Moda's "desserts"... those luscious pre-cuts known as cakes, jelly rolls, candy and turnovers.


I can have pieces of every fabric in the collection - which is so much better than having to decide which fabrics and how much to get of each.  I can have them all.  (Those "Hoarders" folks have a lot of quilters on their "Watch List".)

You've asked many times about pre-cuts, primarily about how they're made and some of the particulars.  I wish I could tell you that it was some really cool machine that took bolts of fabric and magically turned them into Jelly Rolls.  Better still, a pre-cut replicator like the one on Star Trek.  (Wouldn't we all want one of those?)

It's pretty simple - long lengths of fabric are stacked in a particular order based on color, print and so on.  The fabric is cut by machine and the packages are assembled by hand in much the same way that any packaged good is done.  Somebody has to put all those Thin Mints into that sleeve of Girl Scout cookies.  You asked if there might be a video of the process but when I asked about it, it was pretty clear that nobody ever thought the idea of filming the process would be of interest.  (Maybe someday.)

The other common question is always about the pre-cuts themselves - how many pieces, duplicates, why the pinked edges, etc.  Did you know that there is a chart of "Equivalent Measures" on the Moda Bake Shop?  It's at the top - Weights & Measures.  There are several terrific charts with useful information on the Bake Shop but this is my favorite - I refer to it frequently.

MBS Equivalent Measures


So here's what I can tell you about each - and show pictures of pretty new fabric.

Fat Quarter Bundles. 


(From left to right... Lorraine by American Jane / Purebred by Erin Michael / Mille Couleurs by 3 Sisters / Bright Sun by A Quilting Life.)

These are called AB Bundles - for Absolutely Beautiful, of course.  An AB bundle is comprised of one fat quarter - 18" x 22" - of each fabric in a collection.  There are no duplicate pieces in a bundle of fat quarters - some folks also call these bundles "stacks" or "towers".

On a side note, for some unknown reason, the ribbon used to tie AB bundles seems to knot very easily, resulting in many quilters being unable to ever untie the bundle and use any of the fat quarters.

Fat Eighth Bundles - F8s.


(From left to right and top-to-bottom, Very Merry by Sandy Gervais / Mon Ami by Basic Grey / Lorraine by American Jane / Chic Neutrals by Amy Ellis / Eliza's Indigo by Betsy Chutchian.)

As with the fat quarters, these bundles have one fat eighths - 9" x 22" - of each fabric in a collection.  No duplicates, just one of each.  They've been my favorite for several years because I could combine collections without having a lot of extra fabric - another case of not having to make a decision about which one to get.  And with the larger collections, one F8 bundle was almost always enough to make a nice-size quilt.

Jelly Rolls. 


(Top to bottom, left to right - Purebred by Erin Michael / Mon Ami by Basic Grey / Farmhouse by Fig Tree Quilts / Nocturne by Janet Clare / Collection for a Cause Nurture by Howard Marcus / Windermere by Brenda Riddle / Eliza's Indigo by Betsy Chutchian.)

A Moda Jelly Roll is always 40 strips of fabric - 2 1/2" x 40".  If there are only 32 pieces in a collection, there will be eight duplicates.  It might be 2 strips of 8 of the fabrics, or there might be three of some prints.  It varies depending on the prints and colors in the collection.

These are rolled by hand - and it's hard!  Try unrolling one and then rolling it back up.  Having recently rolled some strips for various projects I'm working on, I figured there had to be a trick or secret.  There is - the strips are rolled in a "chute".  It's the only way to keep it straight.  Tight?  That's totally dependent on the skill of the Jelly Roller.

Junior Jelly Rolls?  Those are half the size - 20 strips.  They're available in Bella Solids and some collections, like V&Co.'s Simply Colorful and Ombres.

(The ribbon used on Jelly Rolls seems to have the same knotting issue... of course, it has nothing to do with how cute they look on the shelf in one's sewing room.)

Layer Cakes.


(Color Daze by Laundry Basket Quilts.)

A little Australian bird recently told me that this is her favorite size of pre-cut because it's the perfect way to get the widest variety of fabrics for her amazingly awesome scrap quilts.  Her shop cuts fabrics this size - 10" x 10" squares - and after folding them, they're tightly rolled and sold as "lollies".

What's in a Layer Cake?  Each Layer Cake has 42 squares measuring 10" x 10".  Every Layer Cake will have at least two duplicates since Moda collections are usually limited to 40 different fabrics.

Junior Layer Cakes have 20 fabrics and they're mostly available in the Bella Solids.

Charm Packs... This is what started all of it.


(Canyon by Kate Spain.)

You might already know that it took me a long time to embrace charm packs.  I thought they were cute but really, what could you make with a charm pack or two?  To date, more than 80 quilts... but that's another subject for another day.

A charm pack has 42 squares measuring 5" x 5" and there will be at least two duplicates.

And finally... Mini Charm Packs. 


(Let's go with many many different ones.)

Like the regular charm packs, there are 42 squares and there are some duplicates.  The difference is that these squares are 2 1/2" x 2 1/2", one-quarter the size of a charm pack.  Hmmm... coincidentally, a charm pack is one-quarter the size of a layer cake.

Porquoi?  Because the math works out easily.  The size of pre-cuts is determined largely by how efficiently they can be cut within a 42" wide fabric without having concerns about selvages.

The pinked edges?  They don't fray or "thread".  That means they're essentially little "lint bombs" but cleaning that off your stretchy-sewing pants is easier to deal with than cutting or sewing a square that has threads along the four edges.

There are also Turnovers, Honey Buns, Honeycombs and Dessert Rolls but not every collection has these.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something - lots of somethings - but I am not forgetting the most important thing...

Karen Seitz!  You're going to have to put"making an Irish Chain quilt" on your "to-do" because you're going to have a new book and a Layer Cake.  (Karen - check your e-mail box.)

That's it for today - Happy Friday!  And have a wonderful sunny, summer weekend!

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