The Free Motion Quilting Project: Day 86 - Feather Flower

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 86 - Feather Flower

Way back on Day 70 I threatened to start combining loads of my existing designs with pebbling to see what would happen.

Today I'm making good on my threat! Here's a nice combination of Feathers and Pebbling which form Feather Flowers!

free motion quilting | Leah DayI admit to being terrible at feathers up until very recently. Every book I ever picked up had another solution and revolutionary way to form this motif, but none of them ever made sense to me.

This was one of those shapes that no matter which way I drew it or quilted it, I always felt like I was trying to sign my name with my right hand (I'm left handed).

That weird, slightly uncomfortable feeling stuck around until I finally decided to chuck all the advice and tips and just started drawing it MY way, or the way that felt right to my hands.

If this is a problem that's been troubling you, I invite you to also try drawing the design, keeping your mind independent of everything everyone has ever said about it, including me!

Inspiration - I'm still slowly working up to having 70 center fill designs to fill in the circles of my Gelato quilt. While I'm not much of a flowery-floral loving person, I've been playing with several flower motifs that you'll see over the next few weeks.

Design Family - Center Fill. This design is started in the center of a space, then expanded to fill in everything with the feather shapes.

Because feathers are so free form, I really thing this could go in just about any area of your quilt. You may want to choose areas that have enough space for the feathers to stretch out a bit, but even in tight spaces, this design will look beautiful.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Feathers aren't as difficult as I used to think, but they can be challenging if you don't have the shape and flow ironed into your mind.

Flow and rhythm is something I haven't spoken a lot about.

Each design on this project has a particular rhythm and flow. Once you master a design, you'll find yourself getting into an almost hypnotic trance when you quilt it.

For example, McTavishing is one of my favorite quilting fillers because I can sit down at my quilting machine and within 3 minutes be in a totally different world. My hands are still quilting, but my mind is not actively engaged.

That's honestly what I love the most about filler designs. There's no marking, so you're free to make it up as you go. Once the design becomes so well known to you that you could quilt it in your sleep, your body takes over the rhythm leaving your mind to wander.

This is why I always listen to audio books or music while I quilt. It engages that part of my mind seeking entertainment so I'm able to sit and quilt for hours at a time.

I've found from personal experience that the flowing designs, those with curves and a continual movement to them, seem easier to gain a natural rhythm with.

Sharp angles and constant direction changes are not as easy, which probably explains why stippling is still one of the most popular quilting designs!

Directional Texture - All Directions and Center Focused. This design is pulling your eyes to the center, but the feather flower petals are also so attention getting that it really creates a solid all over texture.

Suggestions for Use - Do you have a desire to have this design branded into your brain and be able to quilt it in your sleep?

Here's an easy way to get your wish: Take 1 yard of 44" wide fabric (so 36" x 44") and sandwich that "quilt top." Yep, I know it's just a plain piece of fabric, but unless you want to ruin a perfectly good quilt top, you'll take my advice.

Now start quilting your quilt top from the center out. Don't worry about small inconsistencies, don't sweat every mistake, and don't seam rip anything. This is practice, don't judge it.

Quilt multiple feather flowers all over your quilt top until you start to feel bored. Put on some music that you love to listen to and quilt every square inch of your quilt.

I promise, if you quilt a full yard of fabric with ANY design, by the end you will know how to quilt that design better than you know how to sign your own name. Go try it!

Back of Feather Flower
free motion quilting | Leah DayFeel free to use this free motion filler designs in your quilts,
and make sure to tell your friends where you learned it.

Click here to support the project by visiting our online quilt shop.
Let's go Quilt!

Leah Day


  1. This is gorgeous. Hopefully I'll be able to stitch something like this one day soon. Even drawing feathers is a bit of a challenge.

  2. Great design, I love the freeform feathers versus what we usually see.

  3. You've got it! But the further thought is to think of your machine neeedle as a pencil point - works every time!


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