How to Hand Quilt Baptist Fans - DIY Tutorial and Template

baptist fans variation hand quilting
 
"Baptist Fans” is the name for a traditional quilting pattern. The “fans” are made of several echoed arches, and they repeat in an even, slightly overlapping pattern. 
  
Today, I'll show you how to mark your quilt with this geometric pattern. This method is easy and low-tech, and I'm almost certain you can do it with tools you already have at home! 
 

Make A Template

 

tools and supplies for baptist fan quilt marking
 
Cut a long, slim piece of cardstock. A strip of a postcard or an old cereal box works well here. 
 
baptist fan template
 
Mark 1/2” away from the edge of the strip. This will become the center, or the “anchor” of your fan shape. Then, decide how far apart you want your quilting lines to be, and mark more points at those intervals. 
 
I decided that I wanted my “fans” to each have three lines of quilting, and I wanted them to be 1 1/2 inches apart. So I marked 3 more points, each 1 1/2” away from the last. 
 
punching holes with a seam ripper and mechanical pencil
 
Punch holes at each of your markings. You’ll want these holes to each be wide enough for a marking tool - like a chalk pencil or a washable fabric marker - to fit through. I punched my holes with a seam ripper, then widened them with a mechanical pencil (without the lead, to avoid getting graphite on my quilt). 
   

Mark Your Quilt

 
Before you mark your quilt for the first time, you may want to try out your template on a scrap of paper, just to make sure it's the size and shape you want. 
   
quilting - marking a fan
 
When marking your quilt, I recommend starting along the bottom most edge of your basted quilt sandwich. Insert a non-marking tool, like a mechanical pencil without lead, into the bottom hole of your template. Use the tool to hold this template in place, wherever you want to center your fan. Then insert a marking tool, like a washable fabric marker, into the second hole.
 
marking the first fan
 
Keeping the marker in contact with the fabric, swing your template around to draw an arch shape. 
 
The non-marking tool will always be your anchor and stay steadily in place. The marker will move - as you swing it around, it should pull one end of the template with it. 
  
Note: I highly recommend only using marking tools intended for fabric! I would even test on a scrap of fabric before marking your actual quilt. My worst nightmare is using a marker or pencil that won’t come out. I can vouch for this blue marker always washing out with a splash of cold water. 
 
marking the second fan
 
Keeping the non-marking tool in place, move your marker to the next hole on the template. Repeat to create your second arch. Then, repeat as many times as needed until you've made all the layers in your fan. 
  
marking the third fan
 
I decided my fans would be made of three concentric arcs each. 
 
Once you’re done with your first fan, move your template over, and draw another fan. Repeat across the row, then move up and create a second row.
 
By varying how far apart your fans are horizontally and vertically, you’ll control the amount of overlap between your fans. 
 
Placing each of the fans an equal distance from each other will create a neat and uniform look. If you want, you can even mark a grid along your quilt before you begin, and use that to determine where you place your fulcrum to draw each fan. 
 
fans marked for quilting
 
Or, if you want more organic fans like mine, you can free-hand the placement and overlap of each fan. I think that this feels really fun and modern. 
 
in progress quilting with baptist fans
 
Then simply stitch along each of the marked lines! if you haven't hand-quilted before, you can check out my basic hand quilting tutorial here
 
Did you use this motif on your quilt? Let me know how it went below! 

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