Lace Fan Motifs

Stephanie Novatski 2005

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Fans are a favorite motif in Crazy Quilting and there is a myriad of ways to depict them. One of my favorites is to use a piece of lace. Once the lace is in place, the fan can be left as is, or embellished with beads, silk ribbon, charms, embroidery, or any other method you can think of.

Different types and widths of lace create different types and sizes of fans. Since there is an almost infinite number of laces available, I am going to give only a few examples. The laces I have chosen are a good cross-section of styles and methods that can be adapted to other laces. Below is a picture of three different laces

The first is a metallic lace. It is very soft and gathers well. Second is a Venetian type lace. The shape of the points lends themselves to becoming fan blades very easily. Look in your stash for a Venetian type lace that has a motif with a similar shape repeat and trim away the excess. The third lace is a re-embroidered nylon lace. This lace has a distinct pattern that will define the fan blades and easily lend itself to embellishing. 

Gathered Lace Fan:

Locate a place on your block where you want the fan to be. Mark the top arch of the fan and carefully tack the top end of the lace in place. Tack the sides of the lace in place also. At the bottom of one side, come up from back of fabric and edge of lace. Make a small running stitch along the bottom of the lace and go down to the back of the fabric at the opposite bottom side fan edge. Please Note: depending on the size of your fan and the width of the lace, the side edges may meet in the fan center. This is OK. In my example, the side edges align with the charm that hides the bottom edge of the lace. Gently pull the thread on the wrong side until the bottom of the lace lays flat without distorting the fabric. Do not pull too tight! Tie off. Arrange gathers on right side. Your fan is now ready to embellish with a button or charm on the bottom and ribbon or embroidery. Below is an example of a fan using this lace, but any soft lace can be used in the same manner. 

Venetian Lace Fan 

This fan is about the easiest to do. The lace does all the work! Locate a place on your block where you want the fan. Pin or baste one top and side edge in place. Carefully arrange the points to meet in the center of the fan. The lace you use will determine the number of blades you add. I always try to keep the number of blades odd, though with this lace, 4 repeats made the perfect size.   
Embellish with beads and/or silk ribbon. 

Re-Embroidered Lace Fan

Re-embroidered lace can be nylon, cotton, rayon, silk-almost any fiber. The lace I used is nylon. The embroidery makes the lace stiff so it is not easily adapted to a gathered lace fan. But the lace had lovely motifs that would enhance the blades of a fan and is a perfect backdrop to silk ribbon or beading. I found the best thing to do was reduce the bulk of the lace by sewing darts and then trimming the excess.

First, pin the darts in place on your lace. You want to make them so the bottom edge is reduced to where the sides almost meet in the center. Again as with the Venetian lace, the number of motifs used depends on the size and style of lace you use. I used 5 repeats.    
After pinning the darts in place, open the fan on the right side and make sure is it the right size and shape. If it is, trim the sides if necessary. You can allow 1/8" to turn under, or cover the raw edges with embroidery, beads, or ribbon. Sew the darts in place by hand or machine using a small stitch. Below, I used red thread so it would show. Trim close to the stitching and lightly press on the wrong side pressing the seams toward the center.   

Tack the fan to the block. Attach a button or charm to the bottom of the fan if desired. Embellish the fan with silk ribbon, beads, and/or embroidery. Following are three examples using this method and all using the same lace as above after it was dyed.


Author's note: Fan method 3 is also adaptable to wide, soft ribbon-especially pretty with embroidered or plaid! Try it and send us pictures.

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