Baptist Fan Hand-Quilting | A Tutorial

Ahh, the Baptist fan. Is there anything more classic? Several months ago I did this design for the first time on my improv throw pillows, and I loved the look and texture it provided! So when I decided to quilt one of my Misty Mountains versions with this design, I knew I had to snap some pictures along the way so you could try it too!


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Hand quilting in general uses very little supplies, and this is no exception. You’ll need…

*Note: These chopping mats are used to make your template. I buy these at Dollar Tree ($1 for 2, can’t beat that price!) and they really are great for making templates. I also use them to make EPP shape templates for fussy cutting, since you can see through them. They’re rigid enough to last but easy to cut with scissors. If you can’t find these, I suggest using cardboard or another rigid material that’s easy to cut.

Step 1: Make the template

  1. Cut a piece of the chopping mat into a 2.5″ x 8″ rectangle.
  2. Using a sharpie or pen, make marks on one side of the chopping mat piece that are 1″ apart. On the other side, make marks that are 3/4″ apart. I did 7 marks at 1″ and 9 marks at 3/4″.
  3. Using your 1/8″ hole puncher, punch out the marks you’ve just created. I like to push my hole puncher as deep as it will go on my template because I like having room between the holes and the edge of the template. Now your template is ready to use! You’ll be able to create Baptist fans that are 3/4″, 1″, 1 1/2″, and 2″ apart.

Step 2: Mark your fan design

  1. The design gets marked on a basted quilt. I spray baste which allows me to mark lines easily without pins in the way. However, you can always pin baste and work around your pins. Or, mark your design when the quilt is laid out, and add the pins after marking.
  2. Similar to using a protractor (remember those?? And you thought you’d never use them again…), you’ll use the two mechanical pencils (or one pencil with marking utensil of choice) to mark the fan design. I use mechanical pencils WITHOUT lead, similar to how one would use a hera marker. I actually bought a thin hera marker for this purpose… and then literally could not find it for this tutorial. I searched for about 20 minutes and gave up. Oh well, pencils work just fine! Just a note, the lines made with an unleaded pencil can be quite faint at times. If you need a bolder line, I suggest one of the other marking utensils listed in the supply list.
  3. At your starting point (usually the bottom left corner of the quilt), put pencil one into the first hole, it will stay stationary while you mark the whole fan. Using the second pencil, start at one end and drag it across to the other side, thus creating a line in your quilt and a perfect arc.

4. Keeping the first pencil firmly in place, move your second pencil up the holes, making marks as you go. I use one side of the template at a time (only 1″ holes or only 3/4″ holes for a whole project) but feel free to vary the size if you want!

5. Once you’ve gotten the number of lines you want, move both pencils and the template to the next starting point and repeat.

There are many ways to do Baptist fans, but my favorite is when the fans are at an angle, like below. To create this, start at the bottom left of your quilt and mark the first fan. The end of the first fan’s lines is the anchor point where pencil one goes to start marking the second fan. When marking these lines, stop when you hit the lines from fan 1.

On subsequent rows after row 1, your anchor point for pencil one is the divot point where two fans meet.

Step 3: Stitch!

Once you’ve marked all your lines, it is time to stitch it up! Need a refresher? Check out my hand quilting tips & tricks.

  1. The easiest way to stitch a Baptist fan design is in horizontal rows, one fan at a time. Start at the bottom left corner of your quilt, and place your needle in the first line. Whether you start at the bottom or top of that line depends on how many arcs you’ve traced for your fan design. In my example below, I have 5 arcs per fan. I always want to end my fan at the bottom of the design. So, for this design, I’ll start at the top of line 1, and stitch down (Number 1 in diagram below).
  2. Travel your needle between the quilt layers and come up at the bottom of line 2*
  3. Quilt up line 2.
  4. Travel, and start at the top of line 3.
  5. Quilt down line 3
  6. Travel, and start at the bottom of line 4
  7. Quilt up line 4
  8. Travel, and start at the top of line 5.
  9. Quilt down line 5
  10. You’re positioned to travel through the layers again to start at the top of line 1 of the next fan.

*Note: Traveling refers to moving your needle between your quilt top and batting. It is a way to move around the quilt when hand-quilting without creating undesirable stitches on the back of the quilt or cutting your thread. To travel, on the last stitch on the front, instead of pushing the needle all the way through the layers, push it through only the quilt top, and angle it sideways to move it to where you want it to go. Then, push the needle back up through the quilt top in your new starting position.

You should not be able to see your traveling stitch on either the front or the back of the quilt. You’re essentially pushing the needle through the batting only.

When I reach the end of a row, I knot and trim my thread, and then start the next row on the left side of my quilt top. I’m always moving across the quilt top in a left to right fashion.

Any questions? Comment below! As always, if you try it, please tag me on Instagram @patchworkandpoodles so I can see it too!

23 thoughts on “Baptist Fan Hand-Quilting | A Tutorial

  1. I have a question – when you’re quilting from left to right (assuming you’re a right hander) , do you turn your quilt to quilt that row? Or use your thumb? Or do you use another method?

    Thanks again for this tutorial! It’s a great way to Mark a Baptist fan!

    1. I manipulate (turn, shift, etc.) the quilt as needed to quilt it! A good basting job is super helpful to keep everything in its spot.

    1. That’s the only way I’ve seen them. I’ve also seen that you could do half arcs (think rainbow) and that’s really pretty too!

  2. Suggestion is to start fan arcs at lower left corner. For right handlers, this can be awkward, so why don t right handlers just start at the lower right edge of quilt.

    1. If that works better for you, go for it! I’m right handed and I like going left to right, as it reminds me of reading 🙂

  3. Can you start the fan design from the middle of a quilt? I’ve never quilted starting from an edge of a quilt and am concerned about bunching even though I’ve pinned the quilt…

  4. I love this tutorial.
    I do not know enough about hand quilting
    Do you stitch all the way through the back? What does the back look like?
    Thank you. I want to try

    1. You do stitch all the way through the back. Your back stitches may not be as even or pretty as the front ones when you start, but over time they get better! Try making a mug rug or throw pillow and see what you think before you jump into a whole quilt.

  5. I am working on quilting a panel, top, bottom and narrow sides only, using Baptist Fan, for the first time! The bottom space, below main part of panel I have marked 2-3 rows of Baptist Fan (first time). I then have different size blank spaces on either side of main part of panel (I don’t want to do Baptist Fan on central, main part of panel, just the narrow sides). I then want to carry on with Baptist Fan above the main part of central panel. My problem is working out which parts of the actual fan to use to mark either side of main part, to keep the look of the pattern, and where to start marking from side to side, above the main part, to match that I have done below while keeping the pattern looking even all over….. I have tried making measurements, but not very successfully. What can I do?

    1. Maybe mark out the parts you won’t sew with something that washes out easily but that way you can see where you need to mark to continue the pattern?

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