The Fan

crazy or free form quilting - the fan

Learn how to make “the fan”.  Below you will find a link to the handout featured in the video along with the transcripts.


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download transcripts Video Transcripts: Crazy or Free Form Quilting > The “Fan” (#4 of 6 Videos)

0:02 Piecing a fan is another free form quilting method to try. If you can cut a straight edge and sew a straight seam then you’re ready to go. I’ve put some pointers on this sheet. You can download a copy at

0:17 First, I like to decide on the finish size and then add seam allowance and cut it out of paper. I like to keep this visual reminder nearby.

0:28 Fans pivot from a point. It could be in the corner or anywhere along the edge. I like to mark the pivot in the middle. I fold the paper in half and then make my mark. I can refer back to this as I add the strips. I find that making a frame the same size as my rectangle is also a useful tool for later on when I have to trim the final piece.

0:51 Before sewing your fabric, make sure it’s been pressed. I have some leftover scraps or strips here that I could use in my piece. There’s no set pattern in crazy quilting so there’s no set size to cut. I get to decide what I think looks best. I’ll be using strips that are one to about three inches wide.

1:11 Make sure your peace lies flat. You need to press your fabric and make sure you sew a straight seam. Later on you can try curved seams. They require a little bit more know-how.

1:20 Let me show you the difference. Here’s a straight seam. When I open this to press, it will lie flat. Here are two different types of curved seams. If I were to open this and try to press it, do you see what happens? It’s very difficult. When I try to press this, I’ve got too much fabric and it puts puckers in it. Also to keep your seams straight you’ll need to have at least one straight edge to follow on your fabric.

1:49 This strip has a nice clean straight edge here. When I line it up on my mat I can see it follows right along there. I’m not so much worried about the other end. I just need to have one straight edge. If I look at this piece, this looks pretty raggedy over here but this side is nice and straight. These strips do not have to be equal distance apart. If I decided to come in and get rid of some of that raggedness, I could cut that off. And you see that I have a strip with this clean edge but the width of the strip is not the same all the way down. That’s perfectly fine.

2:33 The length of the strips will also vary. The longest trip has to be able to cover my rectangle from the pivot point all the way around to each one of the sides. So if I cut it this big it wouldn’t cover up to this edge here. I’m going to have to make it at least that long but then I like to add at least maybe one to two inches on either end. So let me put an inch there, an inch here, and then could just cut that. It’s not that much to cut off but I could cut that and it’s ready to go.

3:10 Here’s a longer strip. I could just leave this strip and not cut the length but I usually prefer to cut them down a little bit smaller. It just makes it a little bit easier for me. You don’t have to be so precise about that. I think these strips are easy to handle when they’re smaller.

3:27 I’ll lay out my strips in a design that’s pleasing to me. Then I’ll take a picture to help guide me when sewing. My final fan will not look exactly like this but this is a good place to start.

3:46 Here are my first two strips I like them positioned like this. Now I could take my rotary cutter and cut this angle right here or I can just put right sides together. So let me flip this over and I’m ready to take this over to the sewing machine. I usually like to just take it over in my hand like this and sew but if you’re uncomfortable not using pins it’s perfectly fine to stick pins in at this point.

4:15 I’m using red thread but you’ll want to use a neutral color thread. I’ll be sewing with a regular stitch length. When free form or crazy quilting, your presser foot will determine the seam allowance. I just happen to have a quarter inch foot on my machine but it’s okay if yours is a different size.

4:38 I start sewing along this straight edge. I need to take my pins out. My seam allowance is determined by how far this pressure foot is from the edge of my fabric. Here’s what my sewn piece looks like.

4:58 I’ll take it down here and make sure. Here’s my pivot point. Well, I’m just barely making it to the edge here. I’m going to have to watch that. I must make sure that I catch that. Before I add the next piece I have to cut this excess fabric. You should always try to trim away this whenever possible. I could use my rotary cutter but since I’m sitting here I’m just going to pick up my scissors and trim along that edge.

5:26 Now I need to press this open and get ready for the next piece. Let me check to see how I did. Let’s see, the pivot point is right here. I like to have a little bit of extra fabric at that pivot point so that looks good. The edge of my desired rectangle is over here. Oh, pretty close to that but it looks like it might be okay. I can fix that later on if need be so I’m not going to worry about that so much right now.

5:57 My next piece of fabric is this strip and it will go in I wanted something like this. Instead of doing what I did last time where I flipped it over and put right sides together and then sewed down that strip, I think I’m going to cut this piece. First so let me take this out. I’ll use my rotary cutter but you can do this with a ruler and a scissors if I draw the straight line there.

6:26 That’s my desired angle. I’m going to check again see if that is what I want. Yeah, that looks pretty good. This piece is going to come in here like this. Remember I say I like to have a little extra on each end. So let’s get that extra there.

6:43 Put right sides together and now I’m ready to take this over to the sewing machine. I’ve sewn the third piece on. I’ve pressed it and now I’m ready to add the next piece.

6:52 I think I like this piece so maybe something like that. So I can either flip it over like I did the first time or I can trim it like I did with the second two pieces. I

prefer to cut this angle first just because I think it’s easier to sew these two fabrics together when I have two straight edges.

7:18 So let me pull this out and this is the angle that I like but I want to add seam allowance. So let me scoot it over a little that way. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just want to make sure you’ve got a straight edge.

7:35 So there’s my straight edge. I’ll put right sides together and sew. I’ve sewn this to the other pieces. I’ve press and now I’m ready for the next piece.

7:46 You might have noticed that my pivot point has a lot of bulk down here. It’s also moved a little from side to side. That’s okay; remember this isn’t perfect and we don’t have to be precise.

8:01 This bulk concerns me. Sometimes the more pieces I add, the bulkier this is going to get. So it’s okay if you were just to sew your next piece. These two are meeting up here but down at the bottom this pivot point, all these aren’t meeting in one spot. That’s okay.

8:21 Another way to deal with it, is you can wet this and take something really heavy like a hammer and just pound it down to sort of mash it. It makes it a little bit more manageable.

8:33 I would continue adding these strips until this rectangle is covered. I’ve added my last piece and now I’m ready to trim the excess. Before I go any further I want to show you the back of this. If you noticed, I’ve press the seams all in one direction. That makes it a little bit easier to control this bulk at that pivot point so that might help if you’re having problems down there.

9:01 Here’s my rectangle. You can see that it’s kind of hard to figure out. I want it over here. Where’s the pivot point? What’s it going to look like? This is where the frame comes in handy. You can see I have room to fool with this. Here’s my pivot point. I could probably move it over. Well, no that’s going to be short there. I can probably move it over a little or I can move it down. I don’t want that much of this piece showing so let me tilt it around a little. I can tilt it even more. I need to check to make sure that everything is sort of covered. This was the  problem area but doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore. If you do have a spot where there’s no fabric then you’re going to have to pull it over in this direction or pull it over that direction. The pivot point is about right there and that’s pretty much where that point shows up.

10:01 So let me put that in the center and now I’m ready to cut. I’ll leave this here and get my rotary cutter and trim the excess. Here’s my fan.

10:13 If you want to learn other crazy or free form quilting methods please visit, click on “Beginner Basics” – “Crazy Quilting”. Please share this video with your friends.

Published on April 20, 2017 © 2017 ABT. All Rights Reserved

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