The Free Motion Quilting Project: Day 262 - Butterfly Feathers

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 262 - Butterfly Feathers

It's been awhile since we played with a new feathering design, so let's experiment and see what new ideas we can come up with.

Here's a fun variation I created after wondering what it would look like if each feather had a circle in the tip. After looking at it, I thought it looked like the circles found in butterfly wings, hence the name Butterfly Feathers!

free motion quilting | Leah DayFeathers are one of those things I struggled with for a LONG time. When I started the project in 2009, I could barely stitch a marked feather, but over time and by stitching many other designs, the movement and flow of feathers became less difficult.

So if you find yourself struggling with one design, or an entire group of designs, try switching to something else for awhile. Come back to the designs that give you fits in a few months, after you've stitched a few quilts in free motion, and I promise those tricky designs will be a lot easier.

Difficulty Level - Intermediate. Feathers aren't actually difficult for everyone, it just depends on the way your brain works. Try them out and if you get great looking feathers on your first try, then you know that is a design that works great for you!

Design Family - Stem Centered. Most feather designs work from a stem and branch out to fill your quilting space. If you're worried about your feathers being perfectly symmetrical, you can always mark the starting stem first before you get started.

Directional Texture - All Directions. The longer and more swirly your feathers, the more flowing movement they will have.

Suggestions for Use - Feathers are so universal, they really do look good on anything! And these Butterfly Feathers are a bit different - less formal and more funky than regular feathers. So try quilting these funky feathers

Back of Butterfly Feathers
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. I love this design and "Blowing Wind". I still have a hard time with feathers, adding a circle seemed easier for me when I tried it with pencil and paper. I also like the look of curving the feathers in opposite directions. The blowing wind design looks both like clouds and waves. I find it easier to use branching echoeing designs than designs that spiral in and out. I never leave enough space to evenly spiral out. So blowing wind will be my chosen design for wind and waves. Thank you Leah for your continuing inspiration.

  2. Leah,
    I read your post about your slow revelations. Not having the same background, but feeling some of the same stress about building a business, I want to recommend a book to you I am re-reading after many years. It is called "The Wealthy Spirit, Daily Affirmations for Financial Stress Reduction" by Chellie Campbell. It has helped me innumerable times when I feel financial stress. I am finally getting it, you have to live your affirmations... daily.
    I am just getting back into machine quilting full time after 8 years of working at a full time job elsewhere and finally retiring. I came to your blog by recommendation of a quilting friend. I needed a good filler for a quilt I am starting. I have been machine quilting for 14 years, but am not up on the great stuff out there these days. Your blog is inspirational. Thanks for sharing your personal stuff.
    I have also been teaching sewing and quilting for 17 years. My motto is, "Perfection is highly over rated. If you are happy with good, you will save yourself lots of stress and you will finish your project and do better on the next one."
    Thanks for your work and all you do.

  3. ooooo - neato! It makes me think of one of those sea creature things that I saw one time when we were diving. Let me ask Heather what it's called. . . A nudibranch!! lol (funny, funny name!) These creatures are marvelous sea slug things that come in all kinds of shapes and colors. Beautiful things. Sorry to go off-topic, but you gotta check this gallery out: Not quilts, but quilters will love the colors!

  4. Oh another one I like really well, 2 in 2 days--that's good!


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at