hints and tips ~ feather play

MarveLes Art StudiosArt and Collage Quilts, Blogs, Tutorial 13 Comments

hello ~

at long last… i have put together what i think you may find helpful when it comes to my experience stiching feathers… so here are some of my best hints and tips!

tip #1:  use an open-toed free motion quilting foot.  this happens to be the bernina foot #24.  {learn more about bernina’s feet on their website and click link above to see short 30-second videos on every foot!} i use this foot alot, and love it more, because it gives me the edge on precision and visibility for placement of stitches, especially in tight curves, and tiny spacing.

tip #2:  don’t crowd your stitching!  open space is an important consideration, as it allows the eyes to “rest” and enhances the other, more important details of your stitching, such as the feathers!  the space i quilted in between the feathers is much too crowded, so much so, that you cannot hardly adjust your eyes to what the design actually is, so it basically gets lost.  at the very minimum, i would have liked this better had i only outlined the feathers once… not multiple times.

tip #3: after much quilting time, patience, and practice… i have learned that i need to be more aware of the ‘edge space’ – that is to say this.  keep your original feather design at least 2 inches from the outside edge.  by the time i wish to echo the feathers, or add other motifs around the feathers, i’ve run out of room… and these end up getting cut off when it’s time for me to square things up.

tip #4:  even though i have a large bed to quilt on with my beautiful bernina 830 machine, it is vital that i ‘roll up the edges’ of the quilt.  when i forget and then, all of a sudden i’m quilting along, very focused, and my stiches go awry because the bulk of the quilt is hitting the machine, and causes interruption of the smooth stitching line. {rip it, rip it!} 

tip #5:  this is such a good rule of thumb! i’m not one for always going by hard and fast rules… but this is one of them… and a good discipline to cultivate! always pause at the end of a stitching line. {no matter what motif/style you are quilting}… never pause in the middle of a curve!  you will find it very difficult to keep up the smoothness of your line if you stop in the middle of it.  so stop at the end of the line, before you begin another different line… breathe… make a plan, telling yourself what the next ‘travel lines’ are going to be {focus and concentrate}… and then GO!

if you do need to rip stitches… take them out all the way back to the beginning of where your stitching line began, or design motif started over.  it’s really noticeable that you have started mid-way, kind of a ‘broken’ line look, by the time you add securing stitches, in the middle of a curve.

tip #6:  in order to keep your spine lines smooth, be sure to backtrack—extending that quilting line back to the previous feather… almost before the the feather motif began; {i need to do this even better} … even beyond what you think you need to. doing this will ensure your stitching and spine line will be smooth, graceful, and one continuous line.  it’s amazing how much this one little thing can affect the overall look of your spine and feathers. you may not notice it until you see the ‘whole’ of all of your quilting together {once you’re completely done and it’s too late} so be sure to “go all the way back” when you are adding ‘hyper-quilting’ and a different thread color as you do.  if you’d like more in-depth, and WONDERFUL advice on making feathers… buy patsy thompson’s books and DVD’s on feathers.  i promise, you won’t be sorry!  that is how i learned the best!

below: {just another example of crowding the space with too much stitching!}

tip #7: always  s t o p  stitching before your big girl dog {our wild border collie girl georgia!} comes to visit!  she jumps to put her paws on my lap, say hi, and then guess what happens to my stitching?  ‘bump’ goes the stitching line!!  and always… stop and pet them {cuz they love you!}  so take a break!  xoxo  {the same goes for when you feel a sneeze coming on!!} lol!

tip #8:  {a bit of  a repeat of above #2}… but when beginning… be sure to start at least one inch into the body of the quilt… again, so your feather/stitching won’t get cut off by the binding, etc.

tip #9:  when echo-quilting the outside of the feathers… stop and  p a u s e  at the end of each curve… again, stop, breathe!  move the quilt top, unrolling fabric as you need to, or re-rolling.  be sure to turn the quilt so you can see the overall curve, and when you do, you will help yourself achieve a smooth outline in the echo quilting.

tip #9:  don’t feel you have to go down into every nick and cranny when outlining.  don’t be tempted!  leave that open space alone!!  {lol}

tip #10:  my favorite, “must-have” tool?  These “sewline” chalk pencils… with erasers! i L O V E them!  i have them in three colors; white, yellow and green.  i use them tod raw my initial spine lines of my feathers before i begin.  they easily rub off, too… and the eraser really does work.

not so much a tip, but just know… echo quilting takes lots of practice!!  mine are not always perfectly spaced… but that’s okay.  perfection is NOT the goal.  excellence {and fun} IS!

tip #11:  sometimes when echo-quilting, you do run out of space, but it’s important, that when this happens, you just stitch over one of the other lines of echo-quilting.  that is just exactly what you NEED to do!

{now leave well enough alone… leave that ‘blank’ space be!}

my favorite thread colors… i sometimes choose more of a defined variegated thread… sometimes i don’t!

see what results when you crowd the edges of your quilt?  i’ve now cut and squared up… and these edges will now be covered up with the binding.  it’s not a “big” deal, but it doesn’t make the most of your pretty feathers.

thanks for hanging out in my quilting world today!  i know there is more to share… and know that i am not an expert… just a few little things i’ve learned, and that hopefully will help you, too! 

bless your day!

Comments 13

  1. Thank you Leslie for this very informative post , some very helpful hints that I am sure we can learn from . Your work is beautiful!

  2. Thanks for the tips. It has been my summer goal to learn feather techniques. It has really been a fun challenge. I really appreciate all your excellent sewing ideas!

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience. I love feathers and also learned that all comes with practice. But every little hint helps!!
    Thank you Vendulka

  4. Thank you for all the hints…..I will pull this up soon and practice, practice, practice!!!
    Your work is just beautiful!!

  5. Some great tips! I do have two of paty's DVD's and she's a great teacher. Well worth the $$'s. Love your post and quilting! But you already know that! 🙂

  6. It's beautiful, gorgeous really, but so over my head. Think I will just hang out with Georgia! xox

  7. What an interesting and helpful post. You've really given lots of detail and lots of helpful hints. I like seeing your work up close and seeing that you have not exactly traced over the previous lines of your feathers. I like that effect and will not feel so uptight in the future when attempting them.

  8. Such good tips. Thanks for posting them. I've been having some of these issues, so your advice will help me out. And for me, it is not my dog, but my kitties who want to jump up and "help"! Time for a break, they say.

  9. Thanks, Les. I do need to stop more often as I can see haste will make … messes! lol I luv variegated thread and yes, I can see that less would be more. aah, cute pun. Bless you!

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