I have been looking at the FMQ Challenge results that many of you have posted, and they are fabulous! There are feather plumes everywhere, all over the world, looking individual, unique, lovely.
Practicing drawing, quilting, going back, trying again, all of you worked so hard and came up with some spectacular results. The best thing? You are quilting them already in your quilts.
They look terrific, and of course, the more you do, and keep at it, and try new things with them, the easier they will be, the better they will become. Try different threads and needles. It's always fun to experiment, and yes, it is a process, a journey, and seeing improvement so quickly does keep you going. I am really happy so many of you are doing quite well with this tutorial.
The echo quilting background I did is more difficult and takes a long time to do. Simple echoes that repeat the design are easier, with more spacing. If you use a contrast color thread that shows for the feathers, choose one that matches background for echoes or other background design so the feathers are highlighted, and your "oops moments" in echoes are not as obvious. But echo quilting is a fabulous technique to learn, so keep at it, love seeing your results.
The hardest thing in doing echo quilting is having good visibility in your home sewing machine. Some machines make it truly difficult, others are great because of the foot placement, no big thumb screws or added hardware getting in your line of vision. Big thick plastic feet are hard to see around, as are feet that are not offset from the central post but block your view at "noon."
Time for another idea for your feathers.
The photo, above, is a variation of the feather plume that you can try. It works placed around anything, other designs, applique, open spaces.
I used the Perfect Spiral tool by Anita Shackleford at www.thimbleworks.com to trace the spiral lines that became the spines of the feathers as they radiate outwards. I only traced one line, quilted it out from the base at the echoes around the pile of Headbands (directions in my Quilt Savvy book). Then at the outer edge, and just as in the spine in the tutorial, I echoed it back to my starting point and then feathered it.
It's easiest to feather on the outside curve, the edge that is like the outside edge of an inflated balloon. Here I quilted on the left side of the spine and it was the Dreaded Inside Curve, but it is so gentle it is not a problem. This side can be tricky and more difficult as so many of you found.
This design lets you quilt on either side, pick your "best" side and do that. If you found it was always hard to do one side, but the "other" side was good, pick that side and quilt it in this design.
You can also quilt this design in plumes, so each line has feathers emerging from it. Be sure and double the spine so you don't get thread pileups going to a single stitched line.
The feathers also fill the background space, no need for any other quilting that can be so tedious.
I loved reading someone saying that she decided to quickly add a few more feathers as it decreased the amount of echo quilting! Something I discovered years ago too.....:-)!
The center part could be an applique, and actually this spiral technique was devised by Anita as an applique block background. Feathering it is just a way to make it more interesting and give more excitement to the central area.
You could divide a border space with these curves and do areas of this design like a fractured design. It would not be difficult, it would give you areas to quilt and take a break, and would look new and fresh and interesting.
Yes, you can use straight lines for this if you like, but the soft curves look so flowing and natural. And yes, you can sketch these yourself without a tool, give it a try.
Straight lines would be perfect to give an architectural look or more geometry to the feather design.
The lines control and contain your feather shapes. You have boundaries for your feather exuberance! Here you quilt the feathers to fill the space, so deciding on how big to make them is so easy, and they graduate nicely in size too.
I'll keep checking your results on SewCalGal's blog, and ....
Keep quilting! Your work really does get better every day!