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Baptist Fans

Hello all, ME again.

I’ve wanted to try quilting the Baptist fan motif on a quilt of mine. I love this stitch pattern. It’s so old-fashioned looking (that’s a good thing in my book). Originally it was hand quilted with no marking. Amish quilters would just swing the arc of their lower arm and trace a mark with the needle tip. Once they got that line of stitching established they would just echo it several times using the needle length as a guide for spacing the arcs. Sounds easy enough when stitching by hand. However I want to do this by machine.

I did quilt this once with my walking foot. I would trace around a template for the first arc and then used my walking foot’s spacer bar “thingie” to evenly space the echoes. What a pain in the patootie that was! Lots of maneuvering of the quilt top (and it was only a large runner, not a bed quilt) and continually switching from the right spacer bar, to the left spacer bar. Would really like to do this free motion. What has held me up is the puzzling out how to keep my arcs smooth and evenly spaced. I can echo relatively evenly with close spacing  by using the diameter of the darning foot as a guide. I would like my arcs on the fan to be farther apart than that-maybe 3/4 of an inch or an inch.

So where to look for hints on how to go about this? Of course, you got it…the internet. There have to be videos on YouTube about this. Of course there are, but most I have found, so far anyway, are for long armers using plastic circle templates. It seems this is not a motif that gets tackled often, or there would be more on the web about it.

This tutorial results in nice arcs, but oh my, lots of marking required.

Patsy Thomson free pattern download to trace for developing muscle memory.

A slightly modernized version from Leah Day’s free motion project. These are still echoed closer than I want, but I do like the randomized look.

Less random from Leah’s site, but still closer than I’m searching for.

I think this might be a case of working this out on a dry erase board until I feel comfortable with the whole idea, and then just…go for it. It’s only a quilt after all, not brain surgery. Most likely, as is usually the case for all of us, no one will notice the imperfections except the quilter. And I am learning not to point them out, just accept the compliment with a “thank you” and no follow up “but, …”

I do have a Patsy Thomson DVD that I’m going to pull out to see what might be there to go along with the pattern I linked to up above.

Do you free motion your own quilts? How do you teach yourself new patterns? I’ll take any suggestions! TTFN


  1. Joanne Gerwitz says:

    I machine quilt on a Bernina and I don’t really have any tips on marking–each quilt is different for me–but have you seen the patterns on The Pattern Catalogue is full of ideas that I copy to Paint and then play with the sizes to use them with my quilts. Marking is then the hardest part! Sometimes I use chalk or blue pens, or Golden Threads paper.
    Be sure to have lots of time when you go there, though!

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Hi Joanne, thanks for the suggestion of Anita’s site. Haven’t tried her for ideas before. My favorite marking tools are Crayola washable markers, but then I love the look of a quilt that has been washed and dried. Not everyone wants to wash their quilt after they finish quilting it. Even the dark purple and navy blue markers come completely out in the wash.

  2. Claudia kauffman says:

    Have you tried looking on utube? There is almost unlimited tutorials on most any subtropical on quilting. Sharon Schamber’s has one of the best tutorials for quilting (including feathers) that I have ever found. She makes it very easy. Those who took her class’s last year will remember.

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Hi Claudia, I love Sharon’s site for more contemporary designs. I took her class on free motion fill designs last year and learned so much. Not much there for those times I want a traditional design, but her techniques and hints for the stitching process apply to everything. Love those halos!

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