Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quilted Feathers

The main reason why I created the "Strawberry Fields Layer Cake Pattern" was to challenge myself to quilt a sampler of as many feather wreath motifs as I possibly could.  The idea was to quilt a different one in each of the 25 squares.  It turned out gorgeous!  While it was nerve-wracking to quilt all of those different motifs (most of which are new to me), the challenge created beautiful results.  I've done my best to crop and frame some of the photos of motifs quilted.  Not all of them show the quilting as well as I would like.  I used a muslin backing and most of the quilting shows better there than on the printed fabric squares.  This quilt has given me the confidence to attempt white work.

Traditional round wreath with center scrolls.

Overview of the Quilt's Back.

Circle Wreath with plumes and swirls.

I have tried many different ways to create the traditional quilted feather motif both on a domestic and long-arm sewing machine--always with inferior results.  I've even taken classes from authors on "bump-back" feathers only to be disappointed in the outcome.  To sew traditional feathers, it uses your muscle-memory.  This means that one person's technique may not work for another individual.  When I quilted from the top of feather down, my plumes never carried the correct angle with respect to both sides of the spine.  This bothered me.  The bump-back method of feathers only looked good on paper and my plumes always were too plump.  Not to mention the whole inconvenient back-tracking required. 

At my local fabric store, I stumbled upon the book "Feather Adventures" by Patsy Thompson.  In its first pages, she described her quilting journey of feathers--and it was the same as mine.  She began as a hand quilter and could do beautiful feathers only that way (me too!).  Her challenges were the same that I experienced and as she taught the bottoms-up method of quilting feathers that worked for her--worked for me.  So....don't give up if you're new to quilting feathers, just find the motion that works best for your  muscle memory.  One person's path is not the same as another's!