Everything You Need to Know About Fat Quarters

OCT 12, 2020 updated May 14, 2021
Colorful tea towels hanging on wall hooks
Featured designs

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.

If you already know the basics and want to create your own fat quarter design, click here!

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. 

Our two most popular fat quarter fabrics at Spoonflower are Petal Signature Cotton™ and Linen Cotton Canvas.


Petal Signature Cotton is a great option for cut-and-sew projects, quilting and mask-making. The dimensions of a Petal fat quarter are 21″ x 18″ (53cm x 50cm).


Linen Cotton Canvas is the go-to fabric for tea towels. The dimensions of a Linen Cotton Canvas fat quarter are 27″ x 18″ (68cm x 50cm).


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.

freethebold’s design Motherland: Cool Like Dat 2 is shown as a Cotton Poplin and Cypress Cotton Canvas fat quarter. You’ll notice the rulers at the top of the preview change to reflect the width of each fabric.

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.

Featured design

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.

  1. Upload your tea towel pattern to your Spoonflower account.
  2. 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!
  3. Select View All Products from the menu to the left of your design.
  4. 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.

Designing Cut-and-Sew Projects for Fat Quarters 

If you want to design a cut-and-sew project, don’t miss these seven tips from the cut-and-sew queen herself, Ceri Gwen.


From tea towel calendars to the perfect cut-and-sew project, to designing your own fat quarter, we hope these tips and tricks set you up for success. Still have questions about ordering fat quarters at Spoonflower? Drop your questions below or send us a message at help@spoonflower.com.

Recommended Posts

Spoonflower Marketing team member Kristina and her niece with matching tie dye bandanas

Make the Most Unique Tie-Dye Bandanas for the Whole Family

4 comments

2 Ways to Make an Easy No-Sew Notebook Cover

3 comments

A illustration in a sketchbook shows next to the final surface pattern design

Announcing Our First Surface Design Symposium

21 comments

24 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Ana Christina Montero

    Is it possible to have a design printed on silk? If I present or send you an original design what is the cost of printing said design on a yard of silk or material? What is the turn-around time for this printing? What is the cost of this printing? Am inerested in learning how to proceed with a new venture?
    Sincerely
    Chris Montero

    • Hi Chris, Thanks for your interest in Spoonflower! You can find all the fabric types we currently print on here. I would also recommend picking up a sample pack of all our fabrics so you can feel them and make the right choice for your project.

      You can also find our current turnaround times here.

      I hope that helps, but please let me know if you have any further questions!

      Best,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • Kathy Glover

    I am covering a dining chair seat and was wondering if a fat quarter could be used for that

    • Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your interest! This depends on the fabric you are ordering and the size of the dining seat. To check how big a fat quarter of your chosen fabric would be, click here.

      Looks like our upholstery fabrics like Dogwood Denim or Celosia Velvet would either be 27 X 18 inches or 28 X 18 inches.

      Best,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • Please correct the measurements above for users of the metric system! 18 inches is not 50 cm, it is 45.7 cm.
    36 inches =91 cm, about 10% less than the 100 cm you wrote. This might matter a lot to some people. Thanks!

    • Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for your message. We have different sizes for fat quarters and this depends on whether you order in yards or meters. The measurements you see here aren’t inches to centimeter conversions and are the correct measurements as to what we offer on our website when you order a fat quarter depending on if your region uses the imperial or the metric system. I hope that helps, but please let us know if you have any other questions.

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • 1. Are there plans to limit the top 10 winners (to not be repeat designers) within a certain time frame? Say, once or twice a year? This would even-out the playing field (as many repeat winners are professional designers) and still allow for plenty of room for variety and a wider range of participant enthusiasm.
    2. I also wonder why so many contest entries (and even those who place) are clearly not instep with the actual design challenge guidelines. In some challenges, such as coded-color limit, the entries all seem to be according to the rules and I am guessing this is because the entries were SF curated. Perhaps some culling would add to the vitality of all contests and streamline against extraneous entries that everyone must wade through. Just a passing thought. Thanks again, the challenges have helped me to learn more and hopefully improve.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks so much for your feedback! Weekly design challenge winners are selected by our community through voting and we don’t currently have plans to limit how many times an artist can place within the top 10 in a specific time period. Our seller handbook features a great article all about the benefits of participating in the challenges that I’d encourage you to read if you haven’t already done so. The real prize of these challenges is the extra eyes on your artwork!

      The spirit of the Design Challenge is to give a creative prompt that inspires designers to introduce a new design to the Marketplace that speaks specifically to the theme we have crafted. We realize that there are many creative ways to interpret the themes. When a challenge has more limitations like the limited color palette challenges you have mentioned, it does create a naturally curated collection of designs.

      We appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback regarding our challenges and if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!
      Meredith F.
      Spoonflower

  • Question: Do you allow designers to have more than one shop? I have seen atleast one prominant designer who has atleast 2. Just wondering. Thanks

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for your question! An artist may have multiple shops on Spoonflower if they would like!

      I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!
      Meredith F.
      Spoonflower

  • I agree with the old flat preview being far better. FYI: Also, your site still lists Pic Monkey although it is nearly impossible to ge this free version to function anymore due to flash changes in Windows{?} Anyhow, I have a very powerful desktop and can no longer get Pic Monkey to function usefully. Thank you.

    • I’m sorry for the confusion. Spoonflower can no longer support a PicMonkey integration. Adobe Flash is no longer be supported by any updated browsers after Dec. 31, 2020, and without Flash, our PicMonkey integration will cease to function.

      You can still upload high-quality images to Spoonflower from PicMonkey, however you will need a paid subscription to PicMonkey to download your image to your computer and then upload it to Spoonflower. We have a list of other suggested image editors that you might consider here.

      I hope that helps, but please let us know if you have any further questions.

      Take care,
      Amy
      Spoonflower

  • Aloha Meredith… and all y’all as well…
    my view of the Lightweight Cotton Twill must have been simple “operator headspace” on my part… I don’t recall the incident, nor do I recall posting this message (less than two months ago)…
    Oh my. . . (wink)
    * * *
    I do agree with Marian about changing the display appearance for customers, and possibly new clients. It may be aesthetically pleasing, but for many, not all that accurate AND just that much more confusing.
    Many newcomers are confused enough by the online ordering process, they now have to interpolate what they’re seeing online to that same fabric laying flat on their own cutting table… for many novice sewists, myself included, possibly not an easy visualization to achieve.
    * * *
    I’m glad to hear about the move to new digs… I hope the HQ building remains the same… it would be such a waste to make all the improvements and then just give up the facility (sigh).
    I also hope the new printing location will improve the handling, packing, and shipping.
    * * *
    Happy New Year to all y’all… and a Hau’oli Makahiki Hou, y’all… to boot… (LOL)
    * * *
    𝐁𝐨𝐫𝐧 𝐨𝐧 𝐕𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐲 𝐈𝐬𝐥𝐞,
    𝐇𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐍𝐨𝐰, 𝐍𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐡 𝐂𝐚𝐫𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐚;
    𝐀𝐥𝐨𝐡𝐚 𝐲’𝐚𝐥𝐥…
    * * *

    Until that time. . .

    • Hi Earl,

      Any Spoonflower fabric may be purchased as a swatch, fat quarter or by the yard once on a specific design page. If you’re not seeing Lightweight Cotton Twill in the fabric dropdown menu, please send us an email at help@spoonflower.com and we’d be happy to assist you further. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

      Best Regards,
      -Meredith F.
      Spoonflower

  • I wish Spoonflower would go back to the flat view of fabrics (prior to the drastic site revamp customers could not only see a full fat quarter, they could put in multiple yardage and see it as a continuous length) Putting up a blog post telling people about fat quarters isn’t nearly as effective as letting the view show exactly what you’ll get. A few people will see this blog post once, while everyone will see the view on fabric forever.

    I just had an inquiry about this design (my only top ten contest winner, which hasn’t been selling since the scrunchy view was put in place). The lady wanted to know what she had to order to get a complete cut-and-sew because the view makes it look like a FQ cuts off on both the left and right. I have no way of knowing how many people might have bought it if only they could see that a FQ gives them a full unit. It’s really ruined by the distorted fabric mockup.

    https://www.spoonflower.com/en/fabric/1818894-microwavable-body-warmer-hotdog-dachshund-by-eclectic_house

    The lack of seeing a continuous multiple length has also caused problems. I’ve had people tell me they bought the 2 yard FAY because they thought that was the only way to get a continuous length. The little ‘increase/decrease’ arrow is finicky to click on- half the time it doesn’t work for me, and when it DOES work, neither the view nor the text description change- it still shows a yard and says a yard.

    • Hi Marian,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to share your feedback and we apologize for any frustration the preview may have caused. We are always working on ways to improve the artist and maker experience on our site and I have passed along your message to our development team. -Meredith

  • What fabric type would be similar to flannel? I am making slippers for my grandbabies with flannel (or similar) and furry/fuzzy inside.

    Thanks,
    Kathy

    • Hi Kathy,

      Thanks so much for reaching out! While we don’t have flannel at the moment, our Fleece is a great alternative and you can learn more about it here. I recommend starting off with a sample swatch or sample pack to get a feel for the fabric. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask! – Meredith

  • If I buy more than one fat quarter, will they all be one big piece, or do they come in separate fat quarters?

    • Hi Roslyn,

      Great question! Each fat quarter will arrive as individual fat quarters. If you’d like to order multiple designs on one yard, our Fill-A-Yard™ tool would be a great option!

  • Hazel Anderson

    I just ordered several different fabrics, Fat Quarters. At the very end of the ordering process, I was told that for some reason, the order didn’t go through. So I checked my bank account and the amount had been entered already! What is going on?

    • Hi Hazel,

      Thank you for using Spoonflower — I’m sorry the check out process was giving you trouble! I do see you were able to get order #46689637 successfully placed, and it is now processing normally and should print and ship out within the turnaround time noted on the order confirmation email. Once it ships, you’ll be receiving a shipping confirmation email that includes tracking information. Thanks for your patience, and please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns!

      -Meredith