Ask Jo: Answering Rosie’s Questions

Every so often I get questions from blog readers that I believe others would like the answers to as well so I answer them here.

From Rosie in Lincoln, NE:  I have 2 questions for you:  exactly how do you do your machine binding (sew on back, flip to front and stitch down with decorative stitch from front or SID from front OR do traditionally as if you were binding by hand, flipping to back and SID from front.

I am a machine binder all the way.  The first couple quilts I ever did back in the 90’s were hand bound.  They were for my rough and tumble boys.  The quilts were washed often and eventually the stitches came loose….and stitching it down took for forever!!  I went to machine binding QUICKLY.

I sew mine down on top.  I flip it over to the back and stitch it down from the top catching the back as shown.  I did a whole blog post about this.  You can find it here.  If you ever want to find the blog post back, just check the tutorials section on the blog.

I have bound this was for so long that now I don’t even pin the binding down anymore.  I pin the four corners as I come to them and that’s it.  I can easily bind a king sized quilt in 45 minutes from start to finish.  I love binding like this and wouldn’t do it any other way.

Second question:  how do you do your Baptist Fans?  I have a pattern board that I like to use from the back, but that’s so BORING.  Do you stitch with rulers or do you just “wing it?”  Inquiring minds need to know:)


I completely and totally wing it.  The arches aren’t perfect but I don’t care.  I don’t make quilts to be judged and I definitely don’t machine quilt to be judged.  I learned to make them after reading Mary’s blog, Mary Quilts.  If you haven’t been there go!  She has lots of great free quilting patterns too. You can find her by following this link.  Mary spoke specifically about the baptist fans here and offered a pdf file showing them here.  I LOVE baptist fans.  I just never seem to go wrong with that design and thank Mary for sharing it!!

I have to admit I had the file from Mary for some time before I became confident enough to give them a try.  I would sketch and sketch..then one day I finally got brave enough to give it a go.

Both of the above and below quilts feature Baptist Fans.  (The upper quilt is Odds and Ends…the lower Lazy Sunday)  The Baptist Fans on these are done in a straight row by row fashion.  When I do that I start on the left side of the quilt and work to the right.  I stop at the right, cut my threads and start new again on the left.  Baptist Fans like this have become a real favorite for me.


I recently did a charity quilt that had Baptist Fans on it only this time around I did not do them in rows all the way across.  I tilted them this way and that way.  I’ve been wanting to do that for some time but again..I had to work myself to become brave enough to give it a try.

When using this design option you will often have to back track just a bit to get started again.  Also you will need to occasionally use some segments that don’t have the same number of arches.  If you find yourself in a tight spot sometimes you’ll need to fill in mini arches too.  You can see them in the photo above.  I don’t recommend starting out these Baptist Fan arches that change direction.  Try the row by row ones first to get the hang of it.  These aren’t hard but there is a bit of a learning curve to them.

One of the reasons I love doing charity quilts is so that I can try some of these things on a quilt and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Of course I try to do a nice job but if it’s not perfect the recipient isn’t going to be criticizing.

I said it before and I’ll say it time and time again.  I so appreciate Mary sharing her way of doing Baptist Fans.  It gave me the confidence I needed to give it a try.

Any other questions…email me anytime and ask…

2 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Answering Rosie’s Questions”

  1. jo, this is off topic, but i remembered you posting a while back that you were looking for antique doorknobs. i was in an antique shop over the weekend and found one you might be interested in. email me if you are.
    tammy k. in illinois

  2. That is exactly how I do bindings and have for years and years. No one can believe it’s done by machine when they look at the top. It isn’t until they flip it over that they see my stitching. And yes, they do last forever that way.

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