How I Learned To Machine Quilt Feathers

Updated: Jun 21, 2019


Feathers are perfect in all types of quilt tops. But how do you learn?

Here is how I learned to machine quilt feathers.

There are 3 elements to a feather:

1. the tip

2. the body

3. the tail



So to machine stitch feathers start at the tail and bounce off the spine at a 45 degree angle, coming out between the body of the last feather and the stitched or marked spine. That way you will get the angle right which will help you stay consistent with your feathers.



It is up to you if you want to stitch the spine.


I usually do not stitch the feather's spine. If I backtrack the spine is already in there. And if I do stitch the spine and miss it, well I have to either rip it out or use Pigma Pen and make the thread match the background and not rip out.



The body angles off the spine at a 45 degree angle. This how you travel around curves and corners without having your feathers get wonky! And we don't want that. Make the body of the feather layover at a 45 degree angle to the curve. They will sweep around the big wide curves and small tight curves gracefully using this technique.



So now we have covered the feather tail and the body the most noticeable part of the feather is the tip. That is where the eye most likely goes and that is where the skill of feathering is seen. This is how I learn to get my feathers consistent as well.




Chandelier Feather Heart Pattern by Sally Terry

Did you know there is a round ball at the tip of every feather?


While you are practicing strive to make the tip of your feathers perfect round. It easily done when you visualize that you are stitching around a round ball. In the sketch of the Chandelier Feather Heart Pattern above, which I drew with a permanent marker, you can see I tried to make the tips of the feathers round.


When I am machine quilting I am continually saying to myself the entire time as I machine stitch the tip of the feather...round ball, round ball, round ball. My round ball is red, what is the color of your visualized round ball?


4 Feather Types Machine Quilted by Sally Terry

Did you know you can machine quilt 4 different types of feathers using a basic feather stencil?


This feather heart is machine quilted with 4 different types of feathers. From left to right: Chandelier Feather, Hooked on Feathers, Heirloom Feather and Traditional Feathers. I strive for a round ball at the tip of the feather with each feather style.


This is taken from one of my Feather Video Course Sections.


I have always felt that feathers define the quilt, and feathering defines the machine quilter no matter if you use a longarm or home quilting machine. Sally Terry



Be sure to check out my YouTube Channel Machine Quilting With Sally Terry for more videos that could help with your machine quilting and sewing. Go here and Subscribe if you haven't already and be sure to ring the bell so you will know when I've uploaded another video. Yours in the ❤ of quilting, Sally :)


#machinequiltfeathers #freemotionfeathers #howtofreemotionfeathers




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Have been happily sewing since the age of 3, as soon as my grandmother could put a needle in my hand. Sally Terry Designs began in 1999, instructing machine quilting, quilting for others, authoring books, and helping all piecers and quilters with creative patterns, techniques and classes they love.

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