Fanning the Seam

Before we start the September Quilt for an Hour project, which due to commitments this month, I may just give you the pattern right out and not break it down to one hour increments. I’m a bit overwhelmed right now. I’ll decide between now and in the morning what I’m going to do.

But, in this quilt, there is a spot where fanning a chunky seam makes for a nicer block.

When joining pieces where you may want to fan the seam allowance, start sewing 1/4″ from the top. See how I didn’t begin sewing all the way at the top?

Press the seam to one side or the other.

Let’s say the seam allowance on the top strip is pressed to the left and the seam allowance on the bottom strip is pressed to the right. That way, when they’re sewn together, the seams “nest”.

Sew the seam as usual.

When pressing the seam, fan the center part, pressing one side of the seam up and one side down. This helps insure that you’re going to get a flat center and not a little “boob” looking center.


  1. 1

    mereth says

    I first saw this in the Sharyn Squier Craig and Harriet Hargreaves book (can’t remember the title ) and have used it ever since. I used to avoid pinwheels and 8 point stars because I hated pressing the seams and this makes them an absolute joy to piece. Clever ladies they are.Post the pattern all at once if it makes things easier for you. There’s a lot on your plate at the moment!

  2. 2

    Lindah says

    Judy, thank you for this refinement of the fanning technique. All the directions I have seen in the past have said to clip the threads, in order to fan. That always bothered me. I know the seams have crossed, but I don’t trust the crossing. It makes such good sense to start sewing with a backstitch 1/4″ down so no clipping is necessary. Now, why didn’t I think of that! 🙂
    Thanks, Linda

  3. 5

    Anonymous says

    Thanks Judy
    this is a great tip and I love that doing it this way I don’t have to clip the seams….
    oh I hope your not too stressed this month….
    and everything works out well for you.
    kathie in nj

  4. 6

    Nadine says

    Judy, your a “golden mine” ! THANKS for that well illustrated tip (among others) ! You should issue a book with all your tips !

    Hugs & smiles,

  5. 7

    Vicky says

    I tried this last night, and it worked beautifully. I always sewed the full seam in, and then pulled loose a stitch or two when I was getting ready to press in order to fan them. This is a MUCH better way! Thanks!!

  6. 8

    Mrs. Goodneedle says

    Great tip, any helps such as this for flatter more accurate seams and matching make us all better quiltmakers. Thanks, Judy!

  7. 9

    Amanda says

    I love that tip! That’s so much better than clipping the seam, and then fanning it out. I am always afraid I am going to cut the threads, but with your method I won’t have to worry about that! Thanks!

  8. 10

    Elta Field says

    I just saw your tip on fanning and only wish I saw it a week ago with the baby quilt I just completed. I am certainly going to try this method next time. Thank you!

  9. 11

    Trudy says

    I’ve begun reading the Harriet Hargreaves book mentioned in top comment called quilters academy, but I only have vol 3, where they mention fanning the seams but don’t explain, because you’re meant to start at book one. Thank you so much for this information! Now I know they’re just talking about flipping the seam down which I already do.