How to quilt Various Feathers, etc.

Want to make lovely feather motifs like this one?

I decided to write  a simple “how-to” for quilting basic feather types.  This post is also for the students in my class yesterday who had questions about simple feathers, “continuous curve” quilting, and how I would quilt a wedding ring quilt.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the post, you will see the difference between a feathered “flurry” quilt and a “feathered meander.”

Here is my simple tutorial for drawing and quilting freehand feathers:

Ever struggle with your feather shape?  Here is a helpful page to print out and practice. HInt- if you print it out and laminate the page, you can practice with dry erase pens over and over:

Here’s my how-to for Heirloom Feathers:

Here is the order for the Continuous Curve quilting in a 9-patch:

I also mentioned the Wedding ring quilt on my table at the moment- and how I take photos of the quilt and send suggestions to the friend who owns it. Suzie, this is relevant for you since you will be teaching a Wedding Ring class. Here are the 4 suggestions I drew for this friend:

jane-option1.jpg jane-option-2.jpg jane-option-3.jpg jane-option-4.jpg

The first two examples are stencil inspiration, the last two are my own drawings and ideas. My friend, the quilt’s owner picked #2, by the way, so I am busy implementing it. See the finished quilt here:

(Click on for larger view)

I also mentioned a technique called, “The Flurry,” a design created by my good pal, Jamie Wallen (thanks Jamie!). Flurrying a quilt is fast when you have the design down pat. Here is what is looks like quilted on a quilt:



If I were to draw it out, it would look like this:

Here is what Megan Best spine method looks like used on a quilt:

and the back:

I do hope this is helpful for all you beginning quilting students our there! Happy Quilting!

Regards, Carla

PS: Here is the link for the finished wedding ring quilt shown above. Some other great posts about quilting are shown here and here.

37 thoughts on “How to quilt Various Feathers, etc.

  1. Doyou know any site where I can find borders to quilt? I bought some stencils here in my city, but we don’t have many options. I live in Brasil, Porto Alegre, and we have just 2-3 quilt stores in my city.
    Thank you
    Carla Fraga

  2. P.S.- Thank you for the comments about the 4 options I presented to the customer. Option 1 & 2 are stencils, and option 3 & 4 are from me doodling and drawing right on the quilt. I’m with you, I would have picked Option 4, too. LOL!

  3. Carla, do you know which pattern was used to make the DWR? I like how it’s actual squares instead of those impossible to piece all curved pieces. Any ideas where it came from?

    Hi Adam, Here’s two articles about general history of the pattern

    I’m not sure which exact pattern version Jane used in her construction, but I did find a FREEBIE Pattern at Hope this helps! C

  4. Thanks for the good information about quilting feathers. I have had a hard time finding anything online, and I am having a hard time holding the fabric the right way while stitching.

  5. Your quilting is absolutely gorgeous!

    I made the Turning Over New Leaf pattern, too. I also didn’t put the sashing in the quilt. I love the photo transfers.

    Thanks for sharing your techniques on machine quilting. You do beautiful work.

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  8. Carla,

    If machine quilting on a frame without a stitch regulator would
    you recommend going slowly until the pattern becomes more rote?
    Whenever I try things besides free motion meandering, loops and hearts I don’t feel like I can control where the quilting is going. Should I just slow it way down?

    • Debbe, When you stitching without a stitch Regulator, if you slow down, your stitches will not be nice and even. So, in this situation, 2 things comes to mind… 1) More time spent practicing the design prior to stitching until you can do it in your sleep; or 2) Mark the design to follow with your machine head until the design is firmly in your memory.

      If you do one or more of my suggestions above, and you still have problems, then you need to consider how smoothly your machine moves on the track.

      Good Luck! Carla

    • Cindy, I draw in Photoshop CS4. That is how I draw on quilts, my cartoons, and all of the drawings above. The colorful bird/quilt header art at the top of the blog was also drawn using Photoshop, too.

      Later this year, I will have an online class in using Photoshop Elements and a tablet to show quilters how to design their quilts (as shown with the DWR examples).

      Take care, Carla Barrett

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  11. Carla, Do you know how (or can you point me to a site) where the feather is drawn where one side of the feather looks as if it’s been folded down? Not sure I know how to describe it, but one side looks almost 3-D.

  12. HI I have been looking for the same thing and did not know how to describe it but I know what you are talking about. I bought a stencil from StenSource in USA and the number is W1202 it was for a 5″ by 11″ Feather Plume that does exactly what you want. I think you can buy bigger ones too. Good luck

  13. Thankyou so much for all the information on how to draw and quilt feathers. I am just getting brave enough to start FMQing my quilts and I am having a hard time with drawing feathers. This information and practice sheets really helps alot. Now my feathers wont look quite so weird. Thanks again, I am a new follower and I love your blog.

    • Debi, you are very welcome! Have fun with your quilting, and remember, you can always use a fabric marking pen to draw guidelines until confidence with the design rises. I share in my classes about which marking pens I use most often- and in what application. My favorite temporary fabric marking pen is Marvy purple fabric eraser pen- look on for the best price. I often buy a dozen when I order. No affiliation with either Marvy or

  14. Just want to thank you so much for sharing how to draw feathers, you have helped me so much!!! Needless to say your quilts are stunning!! Can’t see me ever doing so much but now at least I will be able to do a small feather

    • Thank you for taking the time to write! Yes, practice drawing them and you will be drawing/quilting professional feathers in no time at all! Happy Quilting, Carla

  15. Hi Carla, I have left several messages on “Quilt Whisperer” but haven’t gotten any response and there doesn’t seem to be much activity on the site anymore. I’m still interested in your “Background Class” you had mentioned you would be offering after teaching it in Arizona (I think). Is that class still going to be offered? Thanks so much, Cheryl

    • Hi Cheryl, I have had a time with hackers and spammers attacking the QW site, I started that site to offer classes, then last year moved the education and teaching to, which has special instructional software. I actually disabled the registration feature on the QW site until I decide what I want to do with it.

      Currently, I am still teaching the Tablet Design Class for Quilters, my latest online class at The class is very comprehensive, has about 40+ videos, 20 Lessons, and about a dozen Creative Exercises. Class development takes about 2-3 months of full time work, I found.

      Eventually, I do plan to convert my Doodle Art for Quilters class to become an online class. I haven’t yet decided on a time deadline for myself, but I can certainly put you on my Class list for I do not send out lots of emails, instead, I only send out notices when classes are offered.

      My Tablet Design eClass ends on Sunday evening, so current plans are to get back to my quilting studio and work on some wholecloth designs!

  16. Wow love your site and your instructions are terrific. I finally purchased a machine that does free motion quilting and with all your help, I think I’ll be able to do some very nice feathers.

  17. Pingback: Feather it the F*ck Up

    • Shoshana, Depending on how you view my blog- on a smart phone or iPad vs a notebook, for example- the Follow me by email button is located on the right hand side or down at the bottom of the main home page. Hope this helps! Carla

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