Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Running Stitches -

"I cannot count my day complete, 'til needle, thread and fabric meet."

I know that is a little ditty from somewhere.  I have no idea who first coined this phrase, but I certainly can lock elbows with that maker in solidarity when it comes to our shared passion for stitching - no matter what it is.

I'm closing in on the center of my Oak Leaf & Reel quilt - where fans will run into other fans and end where fans end, somewhere in the middle.

The one thing I love about Baptist fan quilting is the sheer unknowingness of which fan is going to end up where.

Did you know that fans are quilted from the outside edge inward to the center of the quilt?

There is a reason this quilt filling pattern was (and still is!) so popular amongst quilting bees.

Imagine if you will - the old fashioned quilting bee, with a quilt top, batting and backing stretched flat out on a wooden frame, chairs placed strategically around the frame -

Fans are marked on each side - the first side going edge to edge across the whole, starting in the bottom right corner and running off the edge of the left corner.  This is Quilter #1.

Working clockwise around the quilt, to the left of Quilter #1 sits Quilter #2 - who has started up where Quilter #1 left off - marking fans all along their side until it runs off the far left edge of that side.

That's right - they just run off the edge. There is no "making it fit" or having things be symmetrical.

While Quilters #1 & #2 are quilting away, Quilter #3 is at the top of the quilt opposite of Quilter #1, and they are busy marking fans along that quilt edge from right to left - starting where Quilter #2's fans ended, and marking all the way from right to left until the fans run off at that last corner to their left.

In comes Quilter #4, marking their fans on the 4th side, starting where Quilter #3 left off - all the way to where Quilter #1 began.

Can you see it in your mind?  

When the first round is completed, there is another inner round worked on top of the first round, moving the stitching toward the inside of the quilt.

The two quilters on the sides (Quilters #2, & #4) can only work as far as their arms will reach toward the inside.

When no one can reach any further, the C clamps are removed and quilters #1 & #3 will roll their boards so they can reach the next area to be quilted.

I have used this method free hand, with no need to mark any lines on several of my projects.  For further explanation, click to my Free Hand Fans tutorial HERE. It's been linked under the Tips & Techniques tab at the top of the blog since 2010!

I'm not quilting on an old fashioned wooden frame. I quilt in a hoop.  This one is 14'' which is pretty much my go-to size.  It fits my arm span for easy lap quilting.

Much like the Free Hand Fans tutorial, as the only person quilting, and quilting from a hoop, not a frame, I first have to baste my quilt layers extremely well.  That's important when quilting from the outside in, or you can push fullness to the center of the quilt - and then where is it going to go?

I use a basting length stitch on my longarm to make the job extra quick.  Basting stitches are removed as I move the hoop from area to area.

Since this quilt was extra fussy (pretty formal) I chose to mark my fans with a stencil and chalk. Because the chalk brushes off as I quilt each area, I am only marking one hoop's worth at a time.

What you see in this photo is the CENTER!  I'm getting close. And  I may finish quilting the center within the next week or so as we have THIS happening this weekend:


Approximately 2 1/2'' of the white stuff expected on Saturday, followed by nearly 12'' more on Sunday.

Remember last year when I had to park down at the bottom of the hill because of all of the ice and snow?

I may be parking my van at the bottom of the hill on Saturday.

And I'm already making a list of everything I'll need here at the cabin studio so I can sew sew sew - 

And I have a movie list planned out so that I can sit with that hand quilting project in my lap while the snow falls outside.

This happened yesterday.

More x-rays were taken of the suspect tooth and surrounding area.  It seems to be holding its own for now, but if it acts up again its going to need a root canal.  Dang.

I have an antibiotics back up prescription should anything happen over the weekend. And I have a referral to an endodontist should we need to go that route.  It's worth it to save this tooth, but my hope is that it was just an odd event that won't recur since we adjusted the bite on that tooth to not be so close.

(Sorry about the medical stuff - but you know? It's a pandemic, Omicron is raging, and going to the dentist is considered to be an "outing" you know? LOL!)

Guilty Pleasures.

Yes, I know it's instant.  And yes, it has a gazillion calories - but it has been SO cold that all I wanted to do was get this into my bloodstream.  It's really not that bad!

Behind the scenes:

I'm pattern writing for Cherry Crunch!

If everything goes right - look for this pattern to be available on Saturday, January 15th! Perfect quilt for Valentine's Day Scrap Happiness! Get your strings ready - no matter which color you envision your version of Cherry Crunch to be.  I can't wait to see what you make!

And yes - there will be an introductory price.  And yes, there will be a Fabric Roll Gift-Away with Cotton to Quilts!  And a couple of other exciting things up my sleeve to go with it.

I hope to finish up the pattern writing part today (along with some photography while the sun shines) and then jump right in to writing Rhododendron Trail Part Eight, so it's going to be a desk day in the studio for me.

How about things where you are?  Are you closing in on some quilting finishes of your own?

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

I LOVE the hand quilting on this one!

Looking for the one positive thing in any situation can help push you through to the bright side with valuable lessons learned.
Don't sit on the cactus!
Another life lesson - though parts of us may be worn through (like this quilt) we are still exceptionally beautiful on the inside!

Have a Wonderful Wednesday, everyone -



  1. I miss the camaraderie of sitting around the quilt frame with others! I have almost finished quilting a large quilt, using a lap hoop. I have re-discovered a love of hand quilting, but miss the sociability of an old-fashioned quilting bee : )

  2. I love this Hills Bros. We (hubby and me) put it in our brewed coffee as a sweetener. Talk about caffeinated!

  3. Your saying this morning gave me a giggle. Love it and I may remember it for sure. I don't want to sit on any cactus - real or circumstantial.

  4. I love your Oak Leaf & Reel Quilt! May I ask what stencil you are using for the baptist fan? I'm not brave enough to free hand it.

  5. Hoo boy! We're expecting 8" of snow here late Friday (Iowa). Guess I know where that storm is heading when it gets done here. Buckle up!

    Loved the mental picture of a quilting bee of yesteryear, and the closeups of Oak Leaf & Reel.

  6. Good morning! Hope they can save your tooth. Up here in Albany, NY, it is cold - really cold. Nights are in the single digits for now! We got rain on Sunday even though it was under 32 - and, of course, there was and is ice out there. The streets are okay - but my driveway is a skating rink. Since I'm 73 and have osteoporosis, I'm staying inside and quilting. Wonderful day for it since the sun is finally out. Might be 34 today so I'm going to try to get some ice off the driveway! How many more days until spring???

  7. Getting a root canal this morning, no fun to get older this week. I know you're burthday is coming too! I love baptist fan quilting! Sorry you're getting the S word again. 12" is a Lot in one day. Playing the Glad game like Pollyanna here in PNW. Ice and snow is melting. Hope for no flooding . Waiting and stitching more bonus Hsts from my Grand Illusion that I found in a baggie. Fun Tiny Blocks in my Temporary Quilt Zone upstairs

  8. I'm spending today traveling from Manitoba to B.C. - 3 flights! Long day. I've packed two UFO's, & will help my sister finish her Memory quilt of her daughter's clothing. 💕

  9. Good morning Bonnie, thank you so much for you inspiration and information. I have been hand quilting a quilt with the baptist fan pattern and thought that I had to 'stack', going from right to left. I am so glad I saw this post about going around and around, it makes so much more sense and will be easier in the long run I think. Have a wonderful day!

  10. YES, YES, YES... Closing in on Emerald City, found in your book "String Frenzy"-- I could hardly wait for that book to come out, as i had serendipidly made pages of green string blocks, just "because"...the book came, cutting happened, HSTs (thousands!) put in baggies, life happened, i put everything, including the book and ruler and all parts w/bagged and numbered pieces in a bin and moved to whatever was so urgent (probably the Christmas holiday that year). Emerald City, a deux, pulled out the bin and book and started making more parts to assemble, marking and bagging! AGAIN life happened... sigh... so finally... whentime rolled around and out she came! I started assembling the big blocks, one, two, three of nine! whoops, parts i thought i had made and counted? No where to be found... oh no! Oh yes! Thus started the worst quilt-making-assembling experience... it's foolish to make HSTs about 20 at a time!!! I thought I was done... nope... so now... i THINK i have all the parts made, assembled blocks adding HSTs, and sashing, am to block nine of nine... want to cut an additional border and then I can exhale... I found and traded fabric for the backing! a very large green & white gingham! so cute and am seriously thinking green w/white pin dot for the binding! (neither the binding nor the border are in the body of the quilt! It's an amazing piece... my accuracy has wandered north and south, but I'm thankful, Bonnie... it's gonna be stupendous!!!
    Dentist! me too off n on since last March!!! It suddenly dawned on me mid-appt. a couple months ago! No more rinse n spit!!! The hygienist or dentist does it all with squirt & suction!!! Dental issues are the worst! except for Cov19 i guess... a tad weary of all of it... sigh... we're just into winter and i am so ready for spring... mother nature is SUCH a tease, it was 80* here yesterday and likely close to that today! I am truly blessed... 3.4 miles frm the ocean, Bonnie Hunter on my shoulder and miles and miles of fabric in my stash -- and NOW since I've really
    begun to embrace the scrappy method, i don't envision ever running out of fabric... ever! Life is Good, happy Wednesday, Cats in Carlsbad, CA

  11. woah, you can really tell you have been an instructor for a long time, because that's the best explanation of Baptist Fan quilting I've ever encountered. Thanks for being such a good teacher!

  12. My plan was to finish part 7 today, but it did not happen. I had to go grocery shopping and walk my dog (2×). The I started a pot of beans soup and realized there were dome ingredients that I did not have. Tomorrow is another day. With more snow to come this weekend, my children and grandchildren may not come for dinner. But I hope they will. I love to cook and they love my cooking. We have dinner together every Sunday evening. It's so nice to have the whole family together. Looking forward to clue # 8.

  13. Just back from the dentist getting a new crown....numbness still in the mouth (hate that part!). Then getting a bridge later in another part of the mouth...well, at least my dentist will make his boat payment this year!! :) Quilting a wall hanging of the world (I think from Northcott? In greens/browns with a white background....so fun to quilt!). Need to layer and baste my On Ringo Lake (have to do it at our church since I don't have enough room to lay it out here!) and then I will be quilting it on my Juki---yippee! Love your blogs, Bonnie...you are my favorite quilting (and life!) teacher!! --Connie, in the 'real' northern California (Yreka)

  14. I am in love with Cherry Crunch! My wedding anniv is Valentines Day. This pattern MUST go in my files! Thank you again Bonnie! Stay warm and snug as a bug this coming weekend!! brrrrrrrr!!!

  15. I read your fans tutorial from 2010. Thank you, Bonnie! It sounds like you've returned to marking the fans again, which probably makes sense for me.
    Looking forward to the Cherry Crunch pattern later this month and thinking about the best colors available in my stash.

  16. super fun about Baptist Fan quilting and oh the joys of life!

  17. Our high temp on Sat will be 9 degrees with the low near zero. Buffalo Bills have a playoff game against Patriots at home. Definitely wouldn't want to be a fan sitting in the stadium. Also expecting a snow storm, with amounts to be determined by how the storm tracks. Good thing I have lots of fabric to keep me busy.


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