To some, feather quilting is considered the ultimate goal to some free-motion quilters. I am certainly one of them. For some reason, feathers on quilt just make me swoon!
From my experience in free-motion feather quilting, one thing that has helped me the most is learning how to draw feathers on paper. I learned that being able to put my designs on paper first helps me quilt my feather better later. Doodling feathers on paper helps jump start my brain cells into being able to quilt my feathers unmarked on a real quilt. If you want to know my secret, I always try on paper first to see if I can draw any free-motion motifs before I attempt them on my quilts. If it is possible on paper, then it is not impossible on quilts.
Here are some examples from my quilts showing marked feathers prior to quilting:
[Harrison Urn, first place in 2008 Tippecanoe Block Challenge]
[Song of Williamsburg, inspired by the design on an 18th century Virginian Bird Bottle]
And here are some examples from my quilts showing unmarked feathers prior to quilting – being able to do free-hand feathers comes in really handy when you are under the gun getting a quilt completed.
[Twilight Trails, featured in The Quilter, May 2010]
[To a Garden Tea Party, featured in Quilter's World, June 2010]
[Fruit of the Vine, featured in The Quilter, November 2010]
1. I generally go pretty slow when working with feathers, especially when stitching the feather spine.
2. I always try to use wool batting when I do feather quilting. The wool batting makes my feathers pop really nicely! Silk batting works really well too, but keep in mind the loft isn’t as lofty as that of wool.
So give drawing a try — you might be surprised how much your free-motion quilting benefits from the ol’ pencil and paper! Remember, if it is possible with a pencil, it is possible with a needle!