How to Machine Stitch with the Feather Stitch – Quilting Daily

Machine stitching a
basic feather.

Have you noticed that feathers are all the rage these days? Feathers in your hair, feathers inclothes and accessories, feathers in art, and the feather stitch in the October/November issue of Quilting Arts.

In this stitch-intensive issue, Heather Thomas continues the “Stitch This!” column she’s been writing for the past few issues with a focus on the feather stitch for free-motion machine quilting.

The feather stitch comes in handy as a motif by itself or used as an all-over pattern. You can keep it simple or fancy it up. Here are Heather’s basic instructions, plus some tips for beginners.

The Basic Feather Stitch

1. Begin at the bottom of the feather. Stitch one side of the spine by making a line that is a very slight “S” curve.

2. When you reach the top of the spine, stitch a teardrop shape. Once you have completed the teardrop and returned to the top of the spine, form the first half-heart by stitching out and up, and then back down again.

3. Continue stitching half-hearts all the way down the spine until you reach the bottom. Now stitch back up with another gentle “S” curve that is just a bit away from the first side of the spine. As you near the top of the spine, gently angle the line so that it meets at a point with the first side of the spine (right at the base of the teardrop).

4. Start stitching half-heart shapes down the remaining side of the feather, striving to keep them the same size and shape as the half-hearts on the first side.

free motion quilting feather stitch
Variations on the feather stitch.

Heather says, “When I teach feathers to quilting students, one of the most common difficulties I see is the angle of the half-hearts. If you struggle with doodling feathers, make sure that as you draw or stitch the half-hearts you begin each one with an upward motion. Draw/stitch up and away from the spine, and then form the curve and come back down toward the spine. You can double back up on the downward stitch line of the previous half heart as you begin the next one or you can leave a tiny bit of space between. It doesn’t matter which way you do it, but strive for consistency.”

Heather includes more tips for all-over free-motion stitching with this stitch as well as how to practice on paper and sample sandwiches.

There are many more tips and tricks for free-motion machine quilting in this stitch-intensive issue of Quilting Arts, and we have plans to keep ’em coming well into the next year. There’s only one way to be sure you don’t miss anything, and that’s to subscribe to Quilting Arts, in digital editions or print.

P.S. Have you tried the feather stitch? If you have any tips to share, leave a comment below.

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