Making the arcs freehand style is where you can take the carefully marked out of the equation and go your own way although the essential structure remains a constant. I generally grab a piece of paper to start with and draw the basic set of arcs that I'm considering stitching. As before, I'm working with a three arc fan. You can choose to add as many arcs as you like--draw them very close together or even spread them out. It's always yours to customize.
|One set of Freehand Arcs|
I'll have to admit that the first time I starting stitching freehand Baptist Fans, I was almost in tears a third of the way through my quilt. I was positive I had ruined my quilt. After a good nights sleep and some gritty determination to make myself finish what I had started, I continued on and ended up with something I still love to this day. To me, working freehand is one of the best ways to get your stitching to look more personal and charming. It also removes any pressure to get things 'perfect', which I for one, appreciate.
|2 Rows of Freehand Arcs|
From there on, throughout the rest of my quilt, I won't use a marker again unless I really get in a quandary about what to do. (Sometimes a rows get really out of whack and it helps to draw a set of arcs with a marker so you can 'see' it). I just eyeball the distance from arc to arc and stitch away, letting my eye be the judge. If you decide to draw all your fans in the freehand style before stitching, remember, no need to worry about getting perfectly marked, smooth arcs. As you stitch, you will automatically make small corrections to make things appear smoother.
|The first hoop of freehand Baptist Fans|
Some people prefer a mix of formal and freehand looking fans rather than (what they consider to be) out and out chaos. Tim Latimer has an excellent example of this with one of his latest quilts where he marked the longest, outside arc and then went back and filled in the rest of his arcs with freehand style arcs. It's a perfect way to get familiar with letting your 'eye' tell you where to stitch next and/or keep to more structured looking rows of Baptist Fans.
|Moving over to start the second hoop of stitching|
|Freehand Baptist Fans in my Festival of Trees quilt|