Buying cotton fabric squares on Ebay can be a great way to get a variety of fabrics without buying yards and yards of fabric. If you purchase squares that have been PRE SHRUNK and precision cut this can also save you lots of time.
Many sellers on Ebay sell fabric quilt or charm squares. Some of it is cheap, poor quality chain store fabric and some is much better quality designer quality fabric purchased from quilt shops. Quality names to look for include Hoffman, Kaufman, Alexander Henry, Northcott, Kona Bay, Michael Miller, Hi Fashion, Timeless Treasures, SSI, Moda and others. If you are putting hours of work into a quilt, you should always use the best fabric possible.
I have done the math for you, so that you know how many squares can be cut from a yard of fabric. Allowing for about 2-3% shrinkage, one yard of fabric yields about 340 squares 2" x 2", 130 squares 3" x 3", 80 squares 4" x 4", 48 squares of 5" x 5" and 30 squares 6" x 6".
So, how much would each square cost? If you are buying the cheap, chain store fabric that retails for about $10 per yard (that price includes taxes) you would expect to pay 3 cents per 2 inch square, 4 cents per 3 inch square, 11 cents per 4 inch square, 30 cents per 5 inch square and 45 cents per 6 inch square.
If you are buying good quilt shop quality fabrics, that fabric retails for about $14.00 (including taxes) per yard (Batiks are $2 more and, some fabrics are a little less). Quality fabrics would equal to 4 cents for 2", 9 cents for 3", 15 cents for 4", 30 cents for 5" and 50 cents each for 6 inch squares. These prices take into effect ONLY the retail cost of the fabric plus local taxes. Please keep in mind that there are NO LABOR COSTS added to this. Also, if a shop is selling the squares, their costs are about 1/2 of what I have listed here.
Sometimes squares are listed as FUSSY cut, especially many I SPY squares. That means that an image on the fabric has been cut (usually) so that it is centered in the square. This process can use up lots of yardage and so those squares would be much more costly.
I like to use Retayne to rinse fabric that bleeds excess dye when prewashed. This sets the dye and helps prevent ruining your quilt the first time it is washed!
I hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any questions, please contact me and I will be happy to try to help you.