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Friday, May 28, 2010

Questions on fans...



There have been questions on how I go about doing this, and I thought I'd take some time this morning (At HOME...sitting with a cup of tea...in my JAMMIES!) to show you how I work things. The pic you see above was a photo I sent to the Quiltville page on facebook, sitting there on the plane, quilting away, waiting to take off from St Louis to Atlanta, and then from Atlanta home. I quilted the whole way, and am making huge progress on Dreamsicles!

I started hand quilting fans when I lived in Idaho, oh....many moons ago! The first one I did was a block swap through interquilt, and the blocks I got were called "wind blown square." It was the perfect quilting pattern to add motion to this quilt. I still have it somewhere, and i know I quilted this at least 12 years ago? I know because it traveled with me on the plane (yes I've been doing it this long!) to Connecticut from Idaho to visit my brother....and he hasn't lived in Connecticut for over 10 years or so. Where does the time go?

That first batch of quilts with fans, either in the border, or over the whole surface of the quilt, I used stencils. I tried lots of ways to mark them, from blue marker, to purple marker, to schoolhouse chalk....it was a pain to mark them, really! I also once went so far as to take a strip cut from a sheet of plastic canvas grid...Mark the holes that I wanted to use to measure my arcs with a sharpie marker...and used that strip of canvas like a compass. It worked really well, but again I was still marking.

And let's face it. If you have to lay something out to mark it...it's not going to be that user friendly in a small space like an airplane seat. Being able to quilt without marking is my method of choice!

It wasn't until I got Gwen Marston's book "Quilting With Style" that I even thought about free-handing them, and my first few attempts were...ehhhhh??? And I gave up. I just wasn't that ready to go wonkily liberated yet....until I met Tonya!

I think the thing about free handing fans is that we forget to think about the whole surface of the quilt...we are just sitting there looking at one crooked one, next to another not so crooked one, and comparing them to each other, and we think it won't work. But you have to keep going! It's the texture and motion of the WHOLE SURFACE that matters, not how perfect each individual fan is.

One of the first things I figured out was that I was trying to make my fans too big with too many arcs to them. I limit mine at 5. In fact, 5 arcs gives me the perfect number to keep them moving continuously.


I start my quilting in the bottom right corner, working right to left because I am right handed. Lefties would probably do better working left to right from the bottom left corner.

I *DO* use a hoop. But my quilt is very loose in the hoop. When I quilt, I am not holding the hoop in any way...I have one hand on the underside of the quilt, feeling for the needle, and my right hand on the top doing the stitching. The hoop just rests in my lap and keeps me from having to grab and hold the quilt flat so I can stitch. Some prefer to go completely hoopless, so try it both ways. I'm a hoop girl.

Also...quilting from the OUTSIDE IN toward the center means you have to be basted VERY VERY VERY well. I baste my quilts by longarm with a huge stitch in a meander pattern. I remove the basting threads in each area as I quilt.

If you look at the corner of the pic above...you can see the first fan that started the whole process. I also thought it might help if I drew this with pencil on paper. You can draw it on paper too so you can get the feel of how things work, and how the fans just run off the edge in the direction you are going...and THEN you turn the corner. Like this:

The arrows show you the direction I am stitching. I go DOWN the first inner 1/4 circle, up the second, down the third, up the fourth, and down the 5th.

At this point...I travel my needle up through the layers so I can start the next fan in the same way...down the inner 1/4 circle, and repeat! Don't you love my Casper Wyoming twig pencil!! LOL Fun picking up souvenirs from where I've traveled! I think this one can only be sharpened by whittling...hehehe.

Here we are working toward that next corner..just keep repeating fans until you run off the end.

After I have gone off the side I've been working on....it's time to turn the corner and just start again where the last row ended!

Here I've reached another corner...straight off the edge. Sometimes I need to add another little line as if it were the "top arc" of the one that ran off the edge, just to fill in the space. Then head down the third side...are you getting it now?

At this point, I'm just going to keep going until this whole first round is completed. Once I've gone all the way around once, I start the second round, then the third, and on....until I've filled in the whole surface of the quilt. When I reach the middle, the fans are going to end where they end...just quilt to fill!


This is the BACK of the Dreamsicles quilt...it's a yellow toile! Can you see the pattern with the red thread? Quilting with contrasting thread is so fun. I mean, who wants to put in all this work if the quilting is not going to show? I'm in love with color, and quilting this orange quilt with red thread just makes me happy!

So...are you ready to try? Get out a piece of paper and just start drawing. I'm sure mine are different than some, but that's okay. Oh...and my stitching lines are about 3/4" apart. I just measured. You can make them as close together or as far apart as you like, again there are no rules....just texture texture texture! I like to think of fans as one of the "earliest" pantographs out there......seconded only by clam shells, and cross hatching that went over the entire surface. Quilts that were quilted this way tended to last a bit longer I think...because the stitches CROSSED the seam lines and that anchored them, adding strength. Well, that's my theory anyway. I've also seen applique quilts that SHOULD have fallen apart..but they didn't because the fans marched right across the applique holding it down. Yay fans!

42 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this! Have a great weekend!

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  2. These are great instructions, Bonnie. I think most of us appreciate that you've given us the freedom to try, and not concern ourselves with how all the fans align. Thanks for taking the time to explain this, and for encouraging each of us to give it a go.

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  3. Excellent instructions. I'm a terrible baster, so I'm likely not going to try this on my bigger quilts, but I'm making two baby quilts this summer and I'm definitely going to use your idea.
    Thanks!

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  4. I must admit that I'm a bit old fashioned when it comes to quilting so that the stitches don't show - but color sounds like fun. My question is how did you get your quilting stuff aboard (pins, needles, scissors, etc) and not get it taken away? I want to fly your airlines!

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  5. Thank you for showing this. It sounds like something I would like to try out on small quilts to learn how to do this. I love color also.

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  6. That is really neat, Bonnie. Thanks for the instructions. Maybe someday I will actually get to quilting my own quilts. There just isn't enough time in the day!

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  7. Great instructions...I've never tried going around the outside of the quilt like that...

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  8. Bonnie, these are wonderful instructions. I am going to try it this summer. Just an idea, think about posting on your website in a printer-friendly format. Thanks again, Robin

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  9. So you quilt all around the outside then row by row make your way to the center?

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  10. Janet....yes!
    I circle my way in toward the center, the quilting stops when I run of room somewhere in the middle :c)

    Bonnie

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  11. Thanks, Bonnie. I may have to give this a try!

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  12. Bonnie, Thank you so much for these instructions. I felt like you were sitting next to me showing me how to quilt with fans. I had decided to do fans on a mini wall hanging I am almost finished with and look forward to using these tips.

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  13. Thank you for sharing this process with us. I've been admiring fans for a long time now and finally it makes sense!

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  14. Thanks so much. You and Tanya have taught me so much. I am going to try this on a small quilt top that I have had sitting for over 10 years.

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  15. the quilting looks great!

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  16. What a valuable lesson! And I was able to understand from your photos and discussion just as well as if you were showing me in person. Thanks for teaching so much and so well. Blessings!

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  17. Completely Hoopless here!

    I go from right to left too and get slightly carried away with the amount of fans. I do try to stick to 7, but sometimes forget and end up with more!

    I like the way yo uwork your way round the quilt. Will try it your way on the next project.

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  18. Great tutorial...I took a quilting workshop from Gwen Marston years ago and she covered this along with freehand fans....what a freeing concept. Thanks for thinking about us lefties. I am sure this tutorial will help lots of ladies who always wanted to do fans. THANKS

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  19. You are an amazing writer, AND an amazing quilter. LOVE it! This is a VERY needed post.
    Thanks for encouraging that my non-perfect fans are OK.
    I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa passing. I hope your time with family is refreshing and healing.
    God bless you.~
    Lucy~

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  20. great instructions, I'm quilting one like this right now. I marked the first round and will attempt the free hand on the second round.

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  21. Thank you very much for the instructions. I hope to give it a shot on a log cabin wallhanging I recently pieced. Also, for others who, like me, hate to baste, our local longarm quilter will baste for me at a very reasonable cost.

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  22. I love this blog post! The photos are so yummy and the ideas are so inspiring! My next hand quilting project is going to be fans...for sure! But am I brave enough to not mark?!?!

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  23. Thank you so much for posting this, you made my day! Just back from your travel and you answered my question already! I remember you told before, just couldn't find it...
    And you know what? I saw my orange block on the second picture too, it is the one with all those little flowers on the fabric! Your Dutch block!

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  24. Another great tutorial. I LOVE baptist fans! Hey, I grew up Southern Baptist, so I really like calling them that. :) Remember all those fans in church made of carboard types w/wood handle? lol
    I need to use contrasting thread. You are correct, why not show off your quilting? I have been afaid to until I "got better at hand quilting". Nope, from today on I'm doing it! :) I don't fuss over marking a lot either, so thanks again for the validation. XO

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  25. I quilted my first freehand fans just recently - I'm currently working on the borders of this quilt. You and Tonya were my inspriation - http://inlinethumb10.webshots.com/4169/2289263090101730381S425x425Q85.jpg.

    And you're right - when I look at the whole quilt, I don't see how one line is closer than another, and it doesn't really matter to me that it didn't turn out in a perfect diamond-y shape in the middle like I had anticipated. I just love the movement.

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  26. Thanks for these instructions! I will definitely have to see if I can find a longarm quilter who will baste for me.

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  27. She Makes it Look so EASY!!!!
    LOL!
    =-)

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  28. thank you for this explanation. hugs from Italy

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  29. I'm with Donna! How in the world did you manage to get your scissors and needles on board?

    I never thought to just do fans freehand ... although how to stitch from left to right on the 2nd & 4th circles eludes me completely. I believe I'd have to start and stop each circle separately.

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  30. Excellent instructions for "no marking" quilt design! I just love the Baptist Fan! I want to do this with a Nine Patch quilt. Thank you!

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  31. Anonymous7:12 AM EST

    I think this would work great for machine quilting as well. Linda

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  32. Bonnie: I looked at this post again in preparation to quilt my Aunt irere's Anvil quilt. What sort of thread are you using? Also what needle size? In Tonya's book she is using size 8 pearl cotton & size 7 or 8 betweens needles. You too? Thanks. jane.bitz@gmail.com.

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  33. You've taken the mystery out of fans for me -- I've wanted to do this type of quilting for ages, but just dreaded the marking involved. I'm definitely trying your method. Love it!

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  34. I started my fan quilting with marking the fans as I was too nervous. Then eventually I gave in and am doing them freehand as you suggest. Sure enough, you can't tell the difference and it is much faster without the markings. Thank you so much for the brilliant tutorials with excellent images and clear instructions!

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  35. Anonymous8:02 AM EDT

    brilliant - thanks

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  36. Hello, I want to hand quilt a lap quilt in Baptist Fans. I am a little concerned about starting in the corner, not the middle. My quilt is basted about every 4". Is that going to be tight enough to quilt in the fan fashion? Thanks a lot for your advice. I enjoyed this blog post and the many replies.

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  37. Hi, I just came across your site as I goodle looking for calculations for setting my blocks on point. Thanks for the math! Then I decided to stay awhile: I watched you debone a shirt...kwel! Then snooped around a bit more and came to quilting these fans. Well, I am so happy. I just finished a dresden plate top, and was stuck as to how to quilt it. I want it to be used, not just tucked away or hung on a wall. To top it off I enjoy handwork so I am going to try your method. Question is can I pin baste or do I really need to thread baste which I would have to do by hand. Thanks, ingrid.slatta@gmail.com

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  38. Yet another wonderful tutorial, thankyou bonnie. I like to hand quilt and have been too scared to attempt fans but I am going to bite the bullet and give it a go. Thankyou so so much for sharing this. Best wishes from the uk. Jan

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  39. I love this tute!! Thank you :) My first try at this so am very happy to have read this. Ruth Canada

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  40. Perfect timing , Bonnie! I have a quilt on my longarm and drew a blank on how I wanted to quilt it. At first, I thought about clam shells but couldn't find my rulers! Then I decided that a baptist fan would work beautifully. Then I log on and find this wonderful Tutorial!!!! Yipee! Thank you so much. I think that it will be done in record time with perfect texture.

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  41. Hi Bonnie! Pefect timing for this tute! I have a quilt on my longarm and was planning to do clam shells but couldn't find my rulers. I decided to do the baptist fan instead. Then I log on!!!! Fantastic! I love all that you do. It amazes me that each time I log on, I am always learning new tidbits and seeing beautiful quilts.
    Thank you ao much!

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  42. Hi Bonnie, Thanks for the great instructions on how to do Baptist Fans.

    I would like to try this by machine quilting the fans - would it be done in exactly the same way?

    Yvonne

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