Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feathers Together


Way back when, about 10 or more years ago, I began quilting freehand feathers with the "echo" technique, leaving a small corridor or space between each feather, and echoing once around the finished design to tie it all together. 

I still love quilting them this way, although longer thin "finger feathers" as in the design above, are a tad difficult to do in a home machine.  Moving the quilt smoothly and keeping that space even isn't easy, but you do develop the skill with repetition and conscious effort.  Concentration is the key, and then it becomes a non-thinking task, more of a muscle memory.

The photo above shows a portion of a small design/quilt I drew, traced, and then quilted with this technique.  If you find it too difficult to do feathers with no marks, then try drawing your own, tracing them to your quilt, and quilting them with the technique.  Quilt on the line for the feather, but echo it back up to the top until you reach the marked top of the next feather, then quilt on that line.  Remember to echo the outside tips of the feathers as the finishing touch.

You can also use stencils and quilt them this way.

In my designs I include fat rounded feathers, long thin ones, feathers that look a bit like real bird feathers with hardly any variation in the width, large and small feathers.  It makes the design interesting to combine a variety of sizes especially, but even shapes.  Don't go overboard on this or it will look very busy and distracting.

The complete design, below, is still one of my favorites.  The good thing about drawing a design is you can tinker with it and get it so it looks right before proceeding to mark and quilt it.  Also, you have it in your drawer of designs to use again and again.


"Joy"

Note the two plumes I added at the bottom to balance the design.  Fun!  The main design was begun with the urn, then I added a branched spine.  Now, I would only draw that much, and quilt the feathers freehand, spontaneously, but at that time I drew them all and traced them. 

I am better at quilting them now, but any feathers, at any time, beginner or advanced, give beauty, movement, elegance, charm to your quilts.

Enjoy your feathers, keep working at them, add them to other designs to keep up your skills.

FMQ Challenge members, good luck in March!  You will enjoy Ann's tutorial.

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day,
Diane

37 comments:

Can't Stop Stitchin said...

Thank you Diane, for all your teaching and sharing what you have learned with us in the 2012 FMQ challenge, and in your books and on your blog! I love your work, and have learned so much from you! I own both your books and they inspire me to quilt! Godspeed,
mary

What Comes Next? said...

Thank you so much Diane for sharing your expertise and knowledge with us. I love the echo back on the feathers, and have thoroughly enjoyed my month of practicing feathers.

Diane Wild said...

These are beautiful. If only I could get close to these I'd be happy. Thank you for the Feb. tutorial. It really opened up my mind to a new way to approach feathers.

Joan said...

Thank you Diane for your wonderful tuition this past month with the FMQ Challenge 2012. I too own both your books and refer to them often. I have learned such a lot from you.

Mary said...

This is just so beautiful. I just love looking at your work. It is just so inspirational. From a former Wisconsinite... (but I am flying "home" for a visit on Thursday - can't wait!)

Anonymous said...

I'll echo the other comments and say a big thank you again for your inspiration and positive comments on everyone's work this month. These feathers have been a challenge for many of us who are fairly new to FMQ, but what a goal to aspire to! Your quilting is amazing and inspiring, and your books are so practical and well illustrated, and they answer many of the nitty-gritty questions that others don't begin to touch on. We were blessed to have your tutoring this month - thank you!
Pat in Oregon

Colleen said...

Ditto!! Love your work. Own both books. They are the backbone of my FMQ books. I couldn't live without them. Thank you.

Feather on a Wire said...

As always, your work leaves me breathless. Lovely lovely feathers.

Ulla's Quilt World said...

Your quilts/crafts are so fantastic! It's so nice to find other quilters all around the world!
www.quiltworld2.blogspot.com
Hugs, Ulla (from Finland)

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks to all of you too, for your lovely comments and for working so hard at this. When I decided to do the tutorial I knew it might be fun to do a simple background design, but ended up with the feather plume because it teaches a whole range of skills that translate over to other designs. Even if you never quilt another feather again, you have become a better FMQuilter because of it.

Now we see feathers in all styles of quilting, from more traditional to art, landscape, portraits, pictorials of all kinds. You are only limited by your imagaination!

Mary, it is still cold and damp here in Wis., but not COLD and the snow is about melted. More on the way for the north though, and I think we will have thunderstorms, weird in Feb. But ok by me.

方糖anna said...

Thank you --My teacher..Love YOU~^^~

Robbie said...

I just loved your tutorial for the challenge this month and I'm SO pleased with how my feathers turned out!!! THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU!!!! Love your work...always have...you are an inspiration.

susan said...

Diane it has been a pleasure to be a student once again! Thank you for all the time you spent doing the tutorials! I know that having been your students, we now have a touch of Diane in our quilting and I can't thank you enough! Thank you for passing on your tips and techniques! What a legacy!

The Crafty Quilter said...

Thank you, Diane, for the lovely tutorial. Your work is divine and you are such an inspiration. I loved completing this month's feather project. I even tried your bouncing bananas in the background and it came out great! Thanks for all of the time and effort you put into this!

SewCal Gal said...

Inspirational post Diane. These quilts are absolutely spectacular. Truly beautiful workmanship, of museum quality art to be admired and loved for generations to come.

SewCalGal
www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

Renate said...

Thank you for taking the time to share your expertise with those of us that are still struggling with our machines and FMQ. Your tips and encouragement are motivational. Thanks you so very much!

Laura said...

I'm in the challenge too, Diane, and I also want to thank you so much for your generous sharing! You are an inspiration! I won't be posting my practice until the morning, but better late than never!

CaroleM said...

Thank you Diane. This really was a challenge for me, but I had fun 'impressing' people with what I did. I never, ever would have tried this design before. Thanks again!

Coral said...

Thanks Diane. Great tutorial and wonderful books. I hope to take a class from you in person someday.

Sally King said...

Thank you so much for sharing your qift with us. I for one will continue to practice. Hopefully I can one day can make a feather to be proud of thanks to your teaching.
Sally@BabyStepsQuilting.com

mimi said...

Thank you so much Diane for this tutorial on feathers. I had your book, but I was really too intimidated to try my hands on feathers! with your very good explanations I decided to give it a try. And you are right, you improve with practice! I have also bought your second book, which is also full of good advices and pictures. Is there another one coming in the future?
Many thanks,
Michèle Gagnondtianve

Joannag said...

Dear Diane,
Thank you so much for your February FMQ lessons! Your work is so inspiring and you are so generous in sharing your knowledge.

Happy Spring (almost)!
Joanna

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tutorial for February on Sewcalgal's site. I have always found feathers intimidating, but am practicing.
Your first book enticed me into free motion quilting, and I have recommended it to many a novice quilter.

Linda B

teachpany said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful instruction, and the support through the month. I'm so grateful for the encouragement and informantion.

Cornwoman said...

Like all of the others, I want to thank you for your feather tutorial and how you really invested yourself in making it easier for us to be successful at doing them. I was terrified because I was positive that I could not do them, but your clear instruction and encouragement pressed me to give it a try.

I saw all of my mistakes as I made them, but when I looked at my feathers after I finished, I was amazed at how good that they looked! This will not be the last time that I FMQ feathers! Now I feel like I can be successful at whatever FMQ I set out to do, if I take the time to master it. Thank you!

Martha said...

Thank you for your Feb. tutorial and all of the suggestions and tips that followed in your blog. I've gained so much confidence in doing feathers. Still need to work on the background fill but I'm learning. I will follow your blog for any and all new ideas.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for teaching us! I had never quilted a feather in my life until this month, you explanations are clear and easy to understand and do. It's been so much fun and I feel that I can do them now. It's wonderful!
Sending you some sunshine and warmth from the tropics,
Cathy
at the happygreenfrog.wordpress.com

Unknown said...

Thank you for your tutorial in February.
Your first book inspired me to try free motion quilting, and I am hooked, although my feathers need much more practice.
I have recommended your book to many other people getting into FMQ.

FarmNana said...

Thanks so much for your wonderful tutorial. I'm still "feather challenged" but thanks to you, I'm improving - and inspired! Love your beautiful feathers!

Nancy said...

Diane - Thank you, thank you! Your tutorial was inspirational and so informative. I think I may actually be able to quilt feathers some time soon.

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

Hi Diane....thank you for your wonderful tutorial last month for the FMQ Challenge...I simply loved it...I am taking the challenge. Not good at it; but improving. You make the most beautiful feather motifs I have ever seen....you're an inspiration; really...

Diane Gaudynski said...

A huge thank you to all!

I am so pleased and happy that my tutorial helped so many of you conquer the fear of feathers, and others improve their skills. It was wonderful you took the time to comment and let me know "what happened"! I saw many of the results online, and can only say "Wow"!!!

The feather configuration I showed you in the tutorial is organic and natural. It works in all styles of quilts. If you make a mistake in a design like this, it doesn't show that much. Our eyes can't detect variations in all those curves.

Mistakes stand out in formal quilting designs or straight lines, such as grids. Feathers let you be whimsical and original while still keeping the basic shape going.

Many of you discovered you need to slow down, you need to concentrate and pay attention. You might need to echo at a different, slower speed too.

You will discover what works for you the best, and many of the things you learned while conquering this feather plume will also work for you in future quilting.

Good luck with the challenge; I'm so glad I could "teach" to so many I would otherwise have never been able to have in a class.
Diane

Sharmond said...

Thanks Diane for your tutorial on feathers. I so want to learn. I am enjoying the FMQ challenge. It helps me to keep trying where I might not on my own. Maybe, someday...

Kearstie Grenier said...

Diane, thank you so much for sharing your techniques, thoughts, and encouragement. I am one of SewCalGal's FMQ Challenge beginners and while I found February very challenging, your tutorial was enlightening. You are one of my quilting heroines. I find your work truly inspirational!

Vicki said...

Thank you so much for your detailed tutorials. I had given up on feathers a couple years ago because of shredding thread. This challenge reignited my love of free-motion quilting. I feel so much more determined to conquer any problems that arise. I tried silk thread and cotton sateen for the first time and love it. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish in February thanks to your inspiration.

Rosemary said...

Thank you so much for the February tutorial on your gorgeous feathers. I was afraid to try them. I did improve but still have progress to make. I'm hoping to buy some different threads. I really enjoyed how you tried to make it as simple as possible. My friends think my feathers are gorgeous but I'm going to keep practicing. Your feathers are just incredible! Thanks again!

Diane Gaudynski said...

Thanks everyone! The nice thing is even your first feather efforts get raves from your quilting friends. Don't point out errors, simply say thanks.

I'm so happy many of you have had success.

Try different threads and needles, especially if you have issues with skipped stitches (needle size too small), shredding/fraying, knots of thread, etc. These feathers can be quilted with just about any thread and will look fine.

Remember, the finer/thinner the thread, the shorter the stitch length will be. Heavier threads, bigger stitches.

Keep quilting!
Diane