Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #54

thread-talk1From my experience, feathers are probably one of the least forgiving quilting motif.  Sometimes I look at the feathers I quilt, and I can instantly tell whether they are on or off.  I have discussed the anatomy of an “on” feather here.  And I think the key is really that curvature that we round off in forming those feather lobes.



So, the question becomes how does one practice this almost mystical rounded curvature?  I personally don’t really like to practice for just practice.  I like to actually still achieve something when I am practicing.  I had a light bulb moment when I was quilting these “pseudo” informal feathers on my Woodland Snapshots quilt a few weeks ago.


These pseudo feathers are much more forgiving and much easier to quilt, and I think they provide the perfect opportunity to practice that rounded curvature in the midst of the quilting process.  I hope the following schematic helps.  The basic idea is to form a feather lobe (solid line), but after the rounded curvature is formed, I would echo along the previously stitched lobe (dotted line) to return to the spine before forming the next lobe.


The goal is to form the lobes with a curvature as gracefully round as possible.  I have shown in the following some lobes that are kind of “off”.  Hopefully you will be able to compare the shapes of your feather lobes when they are “off” and see what I mean about the rounded curvature… and more excitingly you are on your way to quilting more “on” feathers than “off”.


Here you see more of the pseudo feathers in action.  You will notice that not all are perfect, but as a whole, these feathers are forgiving.  I gained some insights as to how to better round off that curvature when I free-hand quilt my future feathers.


Also, I have meant to mention to you that my online “Learn to Machine Quilt” class has been made into a DVD.  For those who find it a little tedious to have to follow the class via the internet on a computer and prefer to pop the class into a DVD player – it is available for you now!

Click here to read more about the class.

Click here to purchase the class online, or DVD.  By the way, the online class (NOT DVD) is offered at 50% AGAIN!  Do take advantage of the great deal.

Click here, and here to view students’ projects from the class.  I will be posting more pictures from students in the very near future.

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy Quilting, and Happy Weekend – everyone!


23 thoughts on “Thread Talk from My Sewing Machine #54

  1. I really do like these informal feathers. The look a little more doable for me. I will have to give them a try. Thanks so much for always being so generous with your info.

  2. Very interesting thoughts, many thanks, will give this a go for sure. I just know some of my ‘curves’ are a bit dodgy sometimes, but practice as they say makes perfect…not that I wish to be perfect I would like to keep a sense of, ”the girl’s trying” about my work if you know what I mean…… :-)

  3. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah….I can’t quilt, just make tops and send off. And that gets pricey! But yours are just gorgeous!

  4. What a great idea Wendy – forgiveness is ALWAYS good lol. I wish they would design a big truck suspension that would offer a smoother ride so that I could bring my sewing machine with me and sew a bit while hubby drives lol. Oh well… I love your work – thanks for sharing!

  5. I really like the look of those skeleton feathers. I have a quilt waiting that is made up of random 5″ wide strips. I couldn’t think what to do on it but might try those on alternate strips. No idea what I will put in the others!
    Many thanks for all the lovely ideas. You are very generous to share so much with us.

  6. Thanks so much for this latest Thread Talk ! And it’s quite a gift to us all when you’ve had such a busy week. Yes, the rounded curve–my brain knows what it wants the curve to look like, but somehow my hand seems to square them off a little every time. Your idea is a great one to get the basic shape in for some practice. Blessings to you and yours, Sue

  7. I’m very much learning the free motion quilting and I loved your piece ‘I personally don’t really like to practice for just practice. I like to actually still achieve something when I am practicing.’ sounds like we should be friends ;-) I also like to concentrate on the angle at the feather stem – I have found concentrating on that area has helped me make feathers as opposed to rounded bananas.

  8. Wendy thanks again for another great Thread Talk! Feathers seem to be a challenge for me and until recently I’ve never been happy with them. But I wanted you to know that my feathers are getting better each day — and I attribute that to scrolling through page after page of your feather quilting. I starting seeing the pattern of the rounded tips in your quilts and then started practicing on paper. My feathers improved immediately. This Thread Talk is exactly the kind of information that made my feathers improve to begin with. Thank you so much. I have an oversized MorningStar Quilt to do in feathers soon — I can’t wait. Thanks again for sharing your skill and expertise with us – it is so much appreciated!! Karen

  9. You’ve probably been asked this question a thousand times….are you a long-arm quilter or do you quilt on a home sewing machine ? I hope you say a home machine ! Thanks

  10. It’s always so sweet and also full of a lot of fun for me personally and my office colleagues to search your blog a minimum of thrice in a week to see the new guidance you have got.

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