How I Stitch Floppy Feathers

Floppy Feather FMQ

I promised you I would share how I stitched the floppy feather design on the bird quilt. I drew the design on drawing paper and also made a video for you. However, I’m having difficulty getting the video uploaded. Hopefully I can fix whatever the issue is (I’m thinking it’s my satellite internet and all this snowy weather), and you’ll be able to see it soon.ย  Until then,ย  I hope the following makes sense to you.

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Are you ready? Let’s go get our stitch on!

First, let me give some credit here. This is NOT my original design. I first saw it on Instagram. Rebecca (@rubybluequilts) uses these feathers on her quilts and I wanted to learn how to do them as soon as I saw them. She also has a short video on how she makes them. If you like to see inspirational quilting, I hope you’ll hop over to Instagram and follow Rebecca!

Okay, now we can get our stitch on! ๐Ÿ™‚

Floppy feathers is an easy design, it fits in any space, it’s a good filler or edge to edge design, and it can be stitched in pretty much any size.

So the first thing to do is stitch your first feather. You won’t have a spine to work from, and it doesn’t matter which side you start on. You will want to work from the bottom up, as that is what makes this feather so easy to stitch.

Floppy Feather FMQ

Then, add a second feather on the opposite side:

Floppy Feather FMQThe thing that makes these feathers ‘floppy’ is that they don’t connect. You’ll want to make sure to leave some space between the feathers where the spine would normally be. All you are doing is giving the suggestion of a spine.

Continue stitching until you are ready to change the direction you are traveling in. The feathers need to twist and turn in different directions. You don’t want them all running in a straight line – they will lose the floppy affect.

When you are ready to make a turn, stitch two or three (or more, if needed) feathers on the same side. In the picture below you can see the last three feathers I drew are all on the left side. That’s because I’m getting ready to turn to the right. Hang on, you’ll see where I’m going in a minute… ๐Ÿ™‚

Floppy Feather FMQ Now I’m ready to turn so I make another feather in the direction I want to turn (in this case, to the right.)

Floppy Feather FMQ

And now I can just keep going to the right..

Floppy Feather FMQ

When I’m ready to turn again, I just start stitching multiple feathers on the opposite side of the direction I want to go. In the pic below, I want to take the design up (or to the left), so I stitch several feathers on the right side.

Floppy Feather FMQ

As for the path that I followed, I worked with the throat space on my machine. I wanted to fill in the entire area, so I just loosely followed an imaginary wavy line. You can see what I mean in the picture below:

Floppy Feather FMQYou can also see that the row of feathers on the farthest right side is taller than the first row. This design looks best if you let it be organic. You don’t want everything to be symmetrical – that will allow any mistakes to jump out. Just let it ride up and down and go where it wants. When you start the next row, you can fill in any spaces with feathers and it will look fabulous.

Floppy Feather FMQStitch each row in opposite directions. This lets you have feathers running every which way, up, down, right, left.

Floppy Feather FMQIn the above picture, you can see how I stitched three feathers on the bottom right, in order to make the turn to the left. Even though this design looks sloppy drawn on paper, it looks so good when stitched out and gives fantastic texture to a quilt. I hope you’ll try it and share your projects. I’d love to see your Floppy Feather projects!

I’ll let you know as soon as I can upload the video. I think seeing it stitched will be helpful. I know I’m a visual person, and I always enjoy watching FMQ videos.


About Beth

I'm a wife, mother of two, and lover of all things crafty. I love to cook up new things in the kitchen and in my craft room, and sometimes get "licking the spoon" mixed up with "licking the fabric"!!
This entry was posted in Free Motion Quilting, Tips & Tutorials, Tutorials and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to How I Stitch Floppy Feathers

  1. I think your drawn diagram is excellent to show how you did it! I love feathers, and haven’t seen this one. Definitely going to give ‘er a go in the not-too-distant future!

  2. Nice tutorial! I’ll try this soon and let you know how it goes! What is your youtube user name? Or do you upload your videos somewhere else?

  3. SarahZ says:

    This is awesome, Beth! I am about to jump into the FMQ pool, so I have to start paying attention to these things!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. helen says:

    your feather quilting is beautiful, as is all your quilting. Now video , that would take me into a whole other dimension if I tried it

  5. I think you did a fantastic job with words and pictures. Who needs videos??? Thanks for this tutorial and I am looking forward to trying this!

  6. This is a great photo tutorial, Beth! Thank you so much for sharing and I hope that you can resolve the video issue without too much headache.

  7. Kathleen McCormick says:

    Great explanation! I never believed in the drawing thing, but I do now understand how it helps with muscle memory. I love the way you taught the pattern, Flop right, Flop left, interlock the row! Good way to keep the โ€œhumโ€ in your head and on the machine.

  8. Vicki in MN says:

    Great drawings, I think I did something like this after watching a Patsy Thompson DVD. I remember they were scary to start only because I was afraid to get caught in a corner, but after just one pass I felt comfortable and it was very fun!

  9. Great tute! You make it look doable. Thanks for sharing!!!

  10. Tish says:

    Me thinks, I shall have to give this a go ๐Ÿ™‚ I need a good edge to edge design that can be free handed.

  11. You make it look so easy. I like the design, and it’s great for the bird quilt!

  12. Laura Links says:

    Thank you so much for sharing how you make floppy feathers! Your drawings and instructions were very clear …and now I have something new to play with next time Iโ€™m doing FMQ.

  13. Thanks Beth. I was looking forward to finding out how to do the floppy feathers. They are a great fmq pattern and look very effective on your lovely quilt. Hope you get the internet sorted soon having gone to the trouble to make a video.

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