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Grandmother’s Fan Wedding Quilt Part 2: Piecing the Quilt Top

This is part 2 of my Grandmother’s Fan quilt series. You can read about the quilt’s inception in post 1.

Paper Piecing + Bad Math

I love paper piecing. Many people are afraid of it, as was I when I first started. But once you figure it out, you’re hooked! I was also afraid of curved piecing and had only made two curved piecing blocks before tackling this king-sized quilt for my brother. If I wasn’t proficient at paper- or curved piecing before this project, I am now!

I’m sure you can make these fans by cutting out the individual blades and piecing them that way. But that would leave too much room for error and I like things to be exact.

Fan curved piecing

Thanks to my high school math teacher, Mr. Henderson, I am not afraid of algebra or geometry (trigonometry is another story) and enjoy the challenge of figuring out measurements for quilts. I am not necessarily good at it, but I like the challenge.

So I mathed and mathed and mathed, and determined that this quilt would be six 12″ fans across and six fans down and include two borders to finish it out. And that it would fit a king sized bed.

For weeks I pieced fan blocks, throwing in a block or two for a group baby quilt for some of my Long Distance Quilting friends. It was fun to break up the monotony.

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Though to be honest, I enjoyed piecing all the fans. I love the colors and I simply like sewing. Some people say they get antsy at the thought of making a quilt with all matching blocks, because they like to always try new things. I understand that desire, but don’t mind powering through for the sake of art!

8 Grandmothers Fan blocks pieced Grandmothers fan piecing progress

After I pieced the 36th fan block, I laid them out on my queen-size bed.  I knew my brother’s bed was wider, but this would give me a general idea of scheme.

The quilt top was too short!

Fan quilt too short

I was so aggravated! I went back to my math and it all checked out and I still am not sure where I went wrong. But this quilt needed a lot more fans. Which caused a whole other delay, because I couldn’t decide between seven or eight rows long. It really only needed one more row, but then the pieced top wouldn’t be symmetrical. Did that matter? Would I regret doing only one more row?

After much deliberation and suggestions from my quilty friends, I went with two additional rows. Which meant 12 more fans to piece. Agh!

I did assembly line piecing for all the fans, making them in batches of 6-8 to save time. Even with the assembly line, it still took about an hour and a half to make one fan block. Which equals 72 hours just piecing the fans. Just to have a pile of fan blocks stacked up.

That’s over $1,000 just in time alone to make the blocks that would make the quilt. Remember that when ordering a quilt from Etsy–don’t be shocked at the sticker price, because they are likely not charging you all their hours. Art ain’t cheap, friends! But it sure is cool, isn’t it?

After more deliberation, and voting from quilty friends on the layout of the fans, I went with this:

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Picking a proper border fabric was tricky, as I had really wanted this cool fuscia/tangerine plaid but was afraid it would be too girly/pink. My brother had wanted his Scottish and her Polish heritage incorporated in the quilt if possible, and this would be a perfect tie in, as that orange and pink were the wedding flower colors and it was plaid.

So I went for it and pieced the whole thing with the borders.

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It was so huge that my husband, who is well over 6′ tall, couldn’t hold up its entire length for the photograph. Eight rows down for the win!

We were finally ready for quilting! It was early July, and the wedding was in 2 1/2 months! Would I make my deadline??? Come back tomorrow to find out!


Fun fact: My 1 year old son, who was the ring bearer, wore a vest and bow tie that I made with the same plaid fabric, to kind of tie it all together with the wedding.

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Isn’t he a cutie?