Feather Quilting Tutorial + Free printable template

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.

Allover feathers

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.

improv modern quilt| improv hexagon |free tutorial how to | modern quilt

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.

feather-quilting-border quilt


So are you intrigued yet to try free motion quilting feathers?

Here is a step by step on how you can do so.


Feather Quilting Tutorial – How to free motion quilt feathers

How to quilt feathers | Step by step on the blog | free printable template

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.

How to quilt feathers | Step by step on the blog | free printable template

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!

Feather quilting - How to quilt feathers | Step by step on the blog | free printable template

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.


eather Free Motion Quilting Practice template | Free Template | Mini Quilt Practice





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  1. Nora McCollister

    I got your template and did my first “feather”. You picture made it quite easy to do it. But I do have a question. I know they will look better with practice but the spines are messy with going over them so much. Am I doing something wrong. My first try I went down the spine but didn’t like the look so after reading your instructions a second time I got that I should start with the petal. But I did the first petal ( looked good) then the second but the second added to the first. And I noticed that when I did the second side I added more to it. Any suggestions on how I can make it neater? Thanks.

    • littlemushroomcap@gmail.com

      Hi Nora,
      If you are having trouble backtracking along the previous stitches, just separate the feathers from each other with a small space between them. They still look beautiful – slightly different look but still feathers. The spine goes the same way. You can always come down the spine slightly away from the previous stitches (the spine that build as you make feather petals going up). This way you will have a broader spine. it is always fun to experiment with variation and see what works best for you until you can master it. Hope that helps!

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