In this post, I will be sharing with you a simple tutorial how to free motion quilt feathers and examples of feather quilting. While there are many ways to go about quilting feathers, the method I am going to teach in this post is one of the methods that I have found that works for me in order to create those organic looking feathers with practically boundless possibility.
Examples of feather quilting
Feathers are one of the most versatile and classic quilting design that is widely used in the quilting world. I personally have fallen in love with feather quilting the minute I was introduced to the design. Feathers can easily fill a space and can be adjusted to fit just about any shape or area.
Below is an example of free form feathers all over quilting I did on a mini quilt.
Mixing feathers with other quilting motif
Feathers can also be mixed with other shape and they add more character to a negative space. Below is an example of mixed shape free motion quilting which includes some feathers threading along filling in space among the pebbles, hexagons and spirals.
Feather quilting in borders
At the beginning of my quilting journey, I thought that these feather quilting were only possible to do under the long-arm machine but as I dig through the net, it is actually not limited to long arm machine and can be easily done on your own domestic machine too. However, you do have to have at least the basic of free motion quilting.
I had done a pretty large feather border using a small machine on the quilt below (at that time I own a Janome DC2050). You can read more about the quilt and watch a video of me feather quilting here.
Here is a step by step on how you can do so.
Feather Quilting Tutorial – How to free motion quilt feathers
1. Drawing the spine
I first start by drawing the feather spine with an erasable marker. I personally love using frixion marker as it stays put well while I need it and goes away easily just by swiping it under the iron. I find that the curvier the spine, the flowy your feathers are, but I do suggest you begin with a rather soft curvy line to start with. You can trace the template if you wish to.
2. First feather
Once the spine is drawn, it is time to bring it under the needle. I start with the first feather on the left side at the bottom of the spine – as in the diagram (it does not matter whichever side you start with).
The feather is a paisley shape with a rather rounded head and a curved pinched end that comes back on the spine. I find that this shape is easier to be done if the motion is anti-clockwise for the left-hand side feathers ( meaning that the top part of the feathers is done first). I feel like going this way round allows me to make the head of the feathers more rounded, therefore much smoother in movement.
3. Second and consequent feathers
Repeat with the second feather, being aware of the space it requires and tracking back on the first feather as it stacks.
At the concave (inward) curves, I have the feather’s body mostly laying on the spine (feather number 6, 7, 8 in the diagram).
To make the turn and a floppy feather, I have feather number 7 going around slightly further than the head of feather 6. This adds character to the feathers and makes the feathers more organic and flowy.
4. Tracking back down the spine
The last feather on the left side is the feather that is at the top of the drawn spine. After stitching this feather, track back all the way back down along the drawn spine back to the bottom of the feather.
5. Repeat on the other side
Repeat the same stacked paisley feather shape on the right-hand side of the spine.
Varying the size of the feather paisley will also add more character to the feather design. Play around and have fun!
Go ahead and try it. I am sure you will find it so much fun!
Make sure you pin this so you can refer to this post when you decide to try feather quilting.