I’ve had lots of questions about the fans including one from Elaine that had specific questions so I’m going to answer it here for everyone.
First, my inspiration for quilting freehand fans comes from two places. I’ve always LOVED Tanya‘s hand quilted fans but as you know, I don’t do much hand quilting. One day, Helen shared some fan quilting she’d done based on a DVD by Patsy Thompson. I HIGHLY recommend this DVD and even bought one for my Mom for her birthday in December. Patsy quilts on a domestic machine but just like Dawn’s Pajama Quilter DVD that I also love, it doesn’t matter which machine you quilt on — these will work for either.
Patsy has a free handout on her site — but again — I highly recommend you consider buying her DVD. She shows a lot of variations but my favorite and the one I used on this last quilt is the first one shown on the handout.
So, now the answers to Elaine’s questions.
- No they don’t! In this quilt, I did them in rows but each row goes in a different direction — I worked my way across the quilt in one direction, and back to the other side. If I’d wanted them to go in one direction, I would have started all my rows from the same side.
- I’ve also quilted them so that they’re completely random and just filled the space like on Patsy’s handout.
- I tend to use 5- 7 arcs. When I’m quilting in a row like on this quilt — an even number is needed to keep you in a row – in this case mostly 6 – 8 arcs. When I’m quilting randomly, I’ll use however many I need to fill the space — using an odd number will take you off in a different direction.
- The more arcs you use, the harder it is to keep them smooth so consider that when you’re first trying this out.
- Personal preference maybe?? I made mine pleasing to the eye and had to measured this quilt to answer your question. I found that the majority are 1 inch apart but they do vary from 0.75 inches to as big as 1.25 inches but again most are 1 inch.
- Nope, absolutely NONE. This is a great pattern for a string quilt or other free pieced type of project where the randomness or wonkiness of the quilting *goes* with the randomness of the piecing.
- Backtracking is along the edge of the arc of the next fan. I come about 1/4 of an inch or closer but don’t try to backtrack on the line. You can see that really well in Patsy’s handout linked above and the photo below.
In this quilt I worked my way from left to right and then then next row was worked from right to left. I didn’t really plan that beforehand but was trying to minimize how much I had to roll the quilt back and forth on the longarm. I was able to quilt two rows of fans before having to roll.