Fat quarters are a versatile and multi-functional size of fabric popular with sewists and designers alike. From quilt projects to tea towels to baby leggings and beyond, fat quarters are a great way to bring a dash of color or a hint of style to any creative journey. However, if you’re new to Spoonflower or sewing, you might be scratching your head asking yourself, “Just what is a fat quarter?”
Whether you are designing your own tea towel, or ordering a collection of Marketplace designs for a DIY gift idea, today we’re here to cover everything you need to know about fat quarters with a little help from Noelle and James, our trusty customer support team members.
What Is a Fat Quarter?
A Spoonflower fat quarter is ½ the width of your fabric by ½ the length of a yard (36″ / 100cm).
While the width of your fat quarter will change depending on your fabric choice, the length of a fat quarter will always be 18″ (50cm). For all you math whizzes out there, one half times one half equals a quarter. Hence the term fat quarter!
Now that you know the basics, let’s start exploring everything you need to know about ordering a fat quarter from Spoonflower.
Fat Quarters 101: Fabric Sizes
Did you know Spoonflower offers fabric ranging from 42″- 60″ (106cm – 152cm) wide? Your fabric choice will determine how wide your fat quarter is. Paying attention to this size difference will ensure that the designs you order are correct for the fabrics you select.
Fat Quarters 101: Choosing the Right Fabric
Now that you know more about the size of a fat quarter, let’s talk about choosing the right design for the dimension of your fabric.
If you’re choosing a traditional repeating surface pattern, any of Spoonflower’s fat quarters will do the trick. This is because the pattern was not specifically designed (engineered) to fit a certain fabric size. Just remember to choose the appropriate fabric in the dropdown menu based on your project requirements.
Choosing the Right Fabric: Tea Towels
During the holidays, tea towels are a perfect go-to handmade gift idea. Whether you’re making your annual tea towel calendar or picking out the perfect pun design for Dad, tea towel designs are most commonly intended specifically for a 27″ x 18″ Linen Cotton Canvas fat quarter. When adding the tea towel design to your cart, make sure to select Linen Cotton Canvas in the Fabric Type dropdown menu and Fat Quarter in the Choose a Size dropdown menu.
When in doubt, use the fabric page to preview how your design will print. If the design is getting cut off on the preview, it means the fabric you’ve chosen isn’t wide enough. By changing the selected fabric in your dropdown menu, you can quickly adjust for a picture-perfect preview.
Pro tip: Be sure to note the artist’s fabric recommendation above the fabric dropdown menu and the About the Design description. When viewing the listed fabric width, remember to divide it in half to determine the appropriate fat quarter width.
Attention artists! Did you know you can set your Marketplace designs for sale on a specific fabric type and fabric size?
Ensure your designs are set to your preferred fabric and fat quarter size, and then select the “Save this Layout” button to save these settings for your customers.
Choosing the Right Fabric: Cut-and-Sew Projects
Just like artists are creating engineered designs for tea towels, they’re also designing engineered prints for cut-and-sew projects. You’ll find these projects are most commonly designed for 21″ x 18″ woven cotton fat quarters like Petal Signature Cotton and Cotton Poplin. When adding the cut-and-sew design to your cart, make sure to select Fat Quarter in the Choose a Size dropdown menu and Petal Signature Cotton or Cotton Poplin in the Fabric Type dropdown menu.
Pro tip: If you prefer a wider fabric like Organic Cotton Sateen for a project intended for a 21″ wide fabric, it is ok to choose the wider fabric in the dropdown menu. Just keep in mind you will receive one full project plus a little extra, as detailed in the cut-and-sew doll example shown below.
It’s important to note that some artists will design cut-and-sew projects for fat quarters wider than 21″. When in doubt, remember to check the fabric preview and the artist’s About the Design section. In the example to the right, you can see that Anna Laura Jacobi designed her Doctor Piper Cut-and-Sew doll for a 21″ x 18″ fat quarter.
In the example below you can see Sarah Knight designed her Cut-and-Sew Tooth Fairy Pillow for Minky, a 27″ (71cm) wide fat quarter based on the designer note in the blue box. If you were to order this design on a fat quarter of Petal Signature Cotton, part of the project would be cut off because it is only 21″ (53cm) wide.
Designing Tea Towels for Fat Quarters
Every holiday season the Spoonflower community goes wild for family recipe tea towels and we don’t blame them. They’re the perfect way to preserve family memories and a great gift idea for anyone on your list, even for those family members who are impossible to shop for! For the full how-to tutorial, click here. Before you place your tea towel order, remember our #1 fat quarter rule: Preview twice, order once! In the example below, Spoonflower team member Meredith designed her own tea towel specifically for a 27″ x 18″ tea towel. You can see that when she chooses the Petal Signature Cotton fat quarter (21″ x 18″) the design gets cut off. Yikes!
If a template is more your style, we’ve created a Linen Cotton Canvas tea towel template that can be used to ensure your design doesn’t get cut off when you hem the raw edges. This is also a great tool if you plan to order a finished tea towel.
Ordering Your Fat Quarter Design On a Finished Tea Towel
If you’ve designed a tea towel pattern specifically for a Linen Cotton Canvas fat quarter following the instructions above, there’s a chance you may not want to sew the tea towel yourself. If you’re nodding your head saying “Yes! That’s me!”, there’s an easy way to ensure your design previews correctly on a finished tea towel.
- Upload your tea towel pattern to your Spoonflower account.
- Add the tag sfteatowel to the tag section of the Marketing and Selling section of your design page. This will automatically rotate your design 90º to the right to ensure a picture-perfect preview!
- Select View All Products from the menu to the left of your design.
- Select the Tea Towel and add to your cart!
In the example below you can see what happens to Meredith’s tea towel design when she adds the sfteatowel tag and what happens when she doesn’t.