Marking out a baptist fan quilt pattern…..

When I am quilting a larger sized project  (because I tend to work quite small I include anything from 2ft wide upwards as large), I prefer to have basted my quilt together first before marking out my intended quilting pattern.

For smaller projects it’s the opposite, I find it a whole world of easy to mark out my quilt pattern before any basting.  (one of the reasons is that any lumpy bumpy bits in the design will disappear in a large project, but always seem to be noticeable when I work small)  Drawing your design out on a nice flat surface, without all the quilt wadding (or batting… it’s the same thing) is just easier.

I lay a piece of mount board under my work so I have a smooth flat surface underneath (and I’m also going to be using a pin and this stops my table top being scratched half to death)

I’m using a blue wash out pen in these pictures, I use this on small projects but sometimes if it isn’t washed off straight away it can stain the fabric, mostly I will draw my design in pencil (you can buy special ones form your local quilt shop.  I often just use a regular hb pencil and just press very lightly, I wash all my quilts and this comes out in the wash fine… but it is frowned on by the “quilt police”).  Don’t use a felt tip or biro… and don’t use tailors chalk as that will leave a greasy mark on your quilt top.



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You don’t need anything fancy to draw out a baptist fan design, just a piece of see through plastic (I used part of a cover from an old reporters notebook) the plastic doesn’t want to be flimsy.  You can buy special quilter’s plastic at your local quilting store.

My finished “fan” template is about 8 inches long by 2 inches wide.

Draw a line from top to bottom on the plastic (you might be able see this better if you put a piece of white paper under the plastic first) and mark 1/2 inch points along the drawn line.  Leave a gap of about an inch at the bottom. Then carefully poke an awl through these points.  Try to poke the awl through from the same side each time (this means there will will be one smooth side, and one side where the poked plastic sticks out a tiny bit.  For the bottom hole I just carefully poke through a big needle (I don’t want the hole to be as big as the ones made by the awl)

I also round off the corners of the plastic, I found this helped stop the plastic from catching on the fabric as it slid round.

Lay your plastic on your fabric with the sharp side facing up along the bottom edge of your fabric.  Place a pin in the tiny hole and position this on the lower right hand corner. Put a pencil in the first hole and slide your plastic upwards.

You’ll see a little curve appear on the fabric.

Put your pencil in the next hole and and slide the plastic back down again.

(You might find that 1/2 inch points are too close for you so you could try them 3/4 inch apart, or just skip every other point so your curves are drawn an inch apart.)

Decide how many curves you want in each “fan”


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When you have drawn one fan, un-pin and move the plastic along.  Pin into position on the bottom edge where the last curve sits.  Continue drawing your curves.

When you have drawn them all along the bottom, start drawing them along the next row.  You may prefer to change the direction of the curves with each row but it’s up to you (I like my curves going in one direction but it’s all a matter of taste and at the end of the day, it’s your quilt, not mine).

You also might like to practise this technique on a piece of scrap paper before drawing on your fabric or patchwork.


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So this is the pattern now being drawn onto the patchwork, I’m drawing the curves 1/2 an inch apart, working along the bottom edge first.


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And this is the second row of curves being drawn.  Continue drawing them until your whole quit top is covered .

10 thoughts on “Marking out a baptist fan quilt pattern…..

  1. Excellent tutorial. I’ve been very reluctant to use anything to mark on my fabrics, which has pretty much kept me from marking! Since I use a long-arm with free-motion quilting for almost everything, I’ve avoided it thus far. But there are times when I know that marking a pattern out would be better… Thanks very much for sharing.

    1. Thanks Melanie, glad you found it useful. Like I said in the “tutorial”, a lot of the time I use a regular HB pencil, I just try not to press too hard. A silver quilters pencil is better for dark colours, it shows up a bit more.
      If I’m not actually going to wash my quilted piece then that is where the blue pen comes into it’s own, instead I lightly spray the surface with water in a plant spray bottle and then blot the surface over with some kitchen paper.

  2. Thank you so much for your tutorial. It’s been so hard finding a diy fan pattern or I just haven’t been looking in the right place. Anyway, yours is perfect and I thank you.

  3. Erica, Thank you for the tutorial. I have my quilt top ready for marking. I just didn’t like any of the baptist/amish fan stencils that I liked. And now I am not limited on size either. This is GREAT! Thanks again.

    1. Hi Lisa,
      What a lovely message to wake up to…I’m so pleased that you liked the tutorial. I firmly believe that quilting and patchwork should not cost a lot of money, (I’ve written two posts about what I think of as essentials and the lists are quite short) and in the past templates were often home-made. I’ve also seen some antique metal versions of my plastic template (I keep a look out for them in charity shops, flea markets etc but not yet found one)…I think the template works best on a sturdy plastic. Once again, many many thank yous, and I’m so happy I’ve been able to help xx

  4. It took a lot of searching for a site that wasn’t trying to sell me something! Thank you so much for your generosity, it seems a simple idea but it takes someone like you to give us all the confidence to just do it! I am going to start sewing my patches together knowing exactly how I am going to quilt them now. Thank you.

  5. Well, it is 2019 and I am so glad to find your tutorial. I have a quilt ready to start quilting and just could not find a pattern that I thought I could machine quilt. Thanks for all this info.

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