How to quilt spineless feathers, and exploring the penguin quilting feather variation
November 14, 2017

This is one article in a series of posts all about quilting feathers. There are many variations on feathers and with a little practice you’ll find a feather style you find friendly. In our first article, we talked about formal Amish style feathers. The second article focused on what is commonly called bump- bump feathers. I hope you’ve had a chance to play with those.

Both of those feathers were placed on a central spine that was stitched out first. One of our super talented APQS dealers in Canada, Tracey Russell, made a video you may find helpful showing a hooked feather on a spine. These types of feathers are very forgiving as you do not need to travel back along any line you’ve already stitched. In the video, you’ll notice she stitches the spine first and then after filling in one side of the spine with hooked feather shapes she echoes along the outside to travel back to the base and fill in the feathers on the opposite side.

When using a spine for your feathers you’ll find it is easier to stitch from the base up to the tip. Trying to make feathers from the top down is extraordinarily hard! However, there are some instances where you might prefer to stitch both sides of the spine as you go so you can travel more easily. On a longarm machine you may even want to roll the quilt forward without breaking your thread so you can fill in feathers on a side border in one push. Stitching spineless feathers is a great skill to develop and it will serve you well over time.

We are going to use bump-bump feathers for this example and you’ll notice these types of feathers are stitched out in pairs. You’ll first chalk out a spine using your favorite marking device. This will give you a target upon which you’ll place your first feather pair.

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For this method you’ll flip back and forth crossing from one side to the other working with one pair at a time. The key to creating the illusion of a stitched spine is to really tuck the tail of the feather into the base of the previous feather you’ve stitched.

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Keep building the spineless feather using this back and forth motion as you work through the space you are filling with feathers. As you practice feathers try each feather style you are working on with a spine and as a spineless variation so you can find the method you prefer.

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The feather variation I wanted to share in this article is my favorite feather. I call it a penguin feather because it reminds me of a little penguin beak tipped over in every other plume giving it a tucked ribbon look. Plus, this feather variation has no backtracking so it is very forgiving! I’ve drawn these out as spineless feathers for you.

You’ll start with a hook up from the chalked spine. Inside the hook space you’ll add a little letter “v”. That is the beak of the penguin and it allows you to travel to the intersection where the second portion of this feather pair will kick out to create the second plume before heading back down to the spine.

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You’ll work your way up the chalked spine doing one pair at a time and crossing over to sew the opposite pair as you work.

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Let’s take a look at how formal and lovely this feather variation can look on a spineless feather. Doodle this one out on paper and see if you prefer it on an actual stitched spine or if you like it spineless.

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Finally, take a look at the Penguin Curl border video showing a slight variation using this feather style for a beautiful border. Have fun and go play! Then, post them over on our Facebook page. We’d love to see what you are working on!

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