If you can successfully quilt one simple feathered plume, you can link them to form a whimsical, organic, gently flowing line of plumes that connect.
You can also leave a space between each and it will look as if they were dropped casually on the border and landed naturally, like leaves falling from a tree. This design works well in wider sashing too.
In the sample above I used muslin fabric, Hobbs wool batt, YLI #100 silk thread in a pinky beige color, with background done in ecru silk thread.
The first plume is quilted, thread is cut. The second one is done by inserting the needle and beginning at a point at the top of the first, perhaps not on the exact tip, but offset a bit to look natural.
I curved the second spine in the opposite direction, but they could all be in the same direction and it would look more organized, formal, like a swag. Your choice. Or curve them completely randomly, don't even think or plan, just quilt and have it look very natural.
Below, a closeup of the junction of two plumes.
If you look closely, you will see that each plume is different. But, to the eye, they look similar because they are about the same size, the spines are the same length. This gives consistency and smoothness to this design idea. You can have many differences if the base is the same. The curves all blend in so the fact that the feathers are not identical simply does not matter.
Sketch each new spine after you complete a feather plume, to keep you on track.
You can even plan on more variations. Add a few spirals in the feathers, exchange one big fat feather for a run of tiny ones in that space (a separate quilting unit). Try small even feathers on the inside curve, and big flowing ones on the outside.
Devote some practice time to playing with ideas on sample squares. Use these as your reference library for future quilts. Sometimes when a quilt is made it is hard to come up with ideas, so go to your samples and see what might work and use one of these ideas.
Also make your practice pieces large enough to handle well, and quilt samples towards the center. Small pieces are hard to handle in the machine and it's most difficult to work at the very outside edges. 18" squares work great.
Have fun playing. It is not wasted time. It all builds skill and muscle memory. Charity quilts are good to quilt as well; give them your very best effort, don't be sloppy. If bad quilting is done because it doesn't matter, it will only reinforce bad habits.
Devote one quarter of the Super Bowl game to quilting some plumes, perhaps the second quarter. Then after the game, quilt a few more. No one will even notice you left the room....
Have a wonderful weekend!
Keep quilting! Your work gets better every day,
thank you so much for this wonderful post. We don`t have a Super Bowl Game but a game of soccer have the same effect. Love your feathers...
Have a wonderful weekend.
Thank you so much for your wonderful posts. The post today is especially helpful to me I have a quilt ready to be quilted it has a wide border I want to do feathers and I think this may be the way to go. Thank you also for your tutorial it is just great.
Simply amazing! I hope someday to have the control over my machine to do this!
As always your tutorial posts are so informative and the help and encouragement there is fantastic. Thank you for sharing so much of your talent.
Hi Diane, this is simply beautiful. Do you completely quilt one feather, end your thread and then move to start the new one? Or are they done continuously? I am definitely going to try this!! It looks so different from a single long feather. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks everyone, I hope you enjoy trying feathers!
Karen, yes, each one is done as a complete unit, thread is cut, then the next one is done. It's nice because you are only doing one at a time, concentration can be kept for that one plume much more easily than an endless line of them.
I found that my students who were new at this could do this far more easily than a daunting long line of them. A "built-in break" is part of this when you stop, cut thread and decide on the next one. This break helps you refocus and keep plumes looking great.
At corners, curve a plume around it, facing in, and space them so there is one plume in each corner. Each one can be slightly different in length so this is easy to do.
I'll discuss a continuous line of feathers in a future post. Once you get the hang of how to feather, you never want to stop!
Thanks so much for the ideas and great instructions.
Your feathers are absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for the "Echo Feather Plume" tutorial on Sew Cal Gal's 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge and "Feather Plumes Linked" tutorial posted here. Bravo to you for sharing your talents with us. Have a super duper day!
Thanks Diane for the tutorials! I have been reticent to really work with machine quilting since I do well with hand quilting. The instructions you have given have been so helpful and I'm finding the whole experience enjoyable despite all of the misshapen forms I have been creating.
Dear Diane, thanks so much for your guidance. I fear, I become still a serious quilter, instead of scratch - scratch ;-))
I have many questions, but unfortunately my English is not the best.
But I try it: I get difficulties if Paisleys "Pharynx" (?) becomes very long - thus if the angle is very steep in relation to the Spine. Or as an other example: your 2. Photo, right side, 2nd feather from above. Then the distance between the begin und the end from this plum paisley (on the Spine) may be quite large. This is so correct? I hope, you understand what I mean and must not reading tea leaves.
Thank you very much
your moehi in feather fever
Moehi, yes, you are correct, the distance does increase when the feather is on the inside curve. That's one of the reasons to do a very gentle curve, not a tight one, so the feathers won't get so long and difficult to keep smooth and even.
The only time the angle to the spine is the same in each feather is when they are built on a straight spine. Then they are evenly spaced, same angle, etc. On curves, anything goes, just so long as they blend and merge in with the curved spine in a pleasing way.
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