Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #6

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!

[Cascade of Leaves, featured in Quilter’s World, October 2010]

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]

[Poinsettia Fiesta, to be featured in The Quilter, Holiday 2010]

[My Wholecloth Sampler, featured in The Quilter, March 2008]

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]

[Pieceful Garden, featured in The Quilter (November 2008) and UK’s Popular Patchwork (March 2010)]

[Quilting Around the Block, to be featured in Quilter’s World, Februray 2011

Stitching suggestions:

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!


33 thoughts on “Thread Talk from my Sewing Machine #6

  1. Beautiful feathers! Depending on the time of year, I would love to drive to Arkansas and take one of your classes. Quilt classes make great mini-vacations.

  2. Absolutely phenomenal quilting. I’m going to try drawing some feathers — but oh, how I wish we lived closer to you as I’d sign up for that class in a second!

  3. My jaw wide open :). That is fabulous quilting. I’ll take your word for it that paper first is good. I doodle too first when free motion quilting, but wow – your design and outcome is fabulous. Well done!

  4. You didnt “draw” those patterns on paper right!? (Picture 2 from top)… they look so perfect!!! Tell me you didnt draw those free hand! :) I’m so amazed with your artistic talents!

  5. My, oh, my what I woke up to this morning in this blog. I love to do feathers and this has given me the utmost inspiration. Marking my quilts takes so long as I usually draw most everything out and then mark.

    My son is driving to the Ozarks today I wish I were along with him and I’d come take a class….Hmmm. Oh, well, I guess that won’t work I’m on the other side of the country.

    Please don’t ever go to longarm–us domestics need this and more importantly YOU!! THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO FOR US.

  6. This is more of a question than a comment. I’m new to your website, and a real fan of feather quilting. Are you using a home sewing machine or doing this on a longarm?

  7. Your feathers are fantastic. I had not mastered them on my domestic machine as you have, but when I got the longarm, they are all that I really wanted to learn to do. I doodle constantly too – it is the ONLY way, short of wasting a ton of fabric, to train new designs to memory. I may be doodling some of your patterns soon too (very lovely!). BTW, how does one have so many magazine jobs??! what a great treat-

  8. How we all love those feathers as well! They seem to be viewed as the “ultimate” and give that wonderful vintage touch.
    Such excellant advise to draw on paper first. I would add Constantly doodle quilting designs, it helps SO MUCH!!!Gets the brain tuned in to your hand movements.

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  10. Dear Wendy, I just saw the sampler Pat Stocker did with you at Roger’s Bernina Center. I live in Europe and can not take a class with you. Would it be possible to teach it online some how ?
    Your quilting is the most beautiful I have found in the web.
    Thank you for sharing your amazing work and tips.

    Let me know if it is possible to learn with you per e-mail or online class.


  11. I love feathers. I wished I lived remotely close enough to attend a class you would offer. In the mean time, I have a feather table runner pattern I purchased several years back. I think it’s time to get it out to do more practicing. Thanks for your Thread Talk blog posts, you’ve given me confidence to just practice.

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