My quilting thoughts and inspirations sprinkled with a glimpse of life down on the farm

Monday, October 28, 2013

Feather Fun

aka 2013 FMQ Challenge #3
Another of the challenges for this year's FMQ challenge run by SewCalGal is called Feathers. As a budding free-motion-quilter, that really excited me - oh to master the beautiful feather!!
The tutorial for this challenge was provided by Joanne of Thread Head. Joanne encouraged us to have a look at different styles of feathers, figure out what we like and try quilting some feathers to work out our own unique style.
On her blog, she backed the tutorial up with a post titled "The Evolution of my Quilting Style".
Armed with my own blank canvas, I made my first sample.
For this sample I really wanted to determine how I best liked to quilt my feathers. I already knew I'd much rather sew them freehand than following lines but I really wanted to know if there was a 'correct' way and if it really matters what method I use?
The first feather of the sample was stitched in one
continuous upwards movement - L-R-L-R-L with
no stitched spine first
This branch was made using the bump-bump method.
This was the echo-feather as taought by Diane Gaudynski in last year's
FMQ challenge
These lobes were -sort of - echo swirl. Tutorial used to be here but
has been removed. Mine aren't quite swirly enough!
This is the whole of my first sample.
 I (literally!) pulled my first sample to bits, analysing what worked for me and what didn't. It was only ever meant to be a bit of a sample so I wasn't too concerned about the sewing imperfections :-) but looked at things liked the structure, shape of the lobes, balance etc etc. I decided I preferred to stitch a feather by completing each lobe individually and then over stitching as I start a new lobe. (Not sewn on the sample!)
One thing the sample piece showed me was that I really needed to do a better job of branching out my new plumes of feathers. The branches looked like they have just been poked into the main plume like a flower arrangement done by my husband. So all the spines needed to be drawn in and stitched out right from the start so that they would flow out from the main spine nicely.
So — second sample traditionally stitched feathers and all spines pre-stitched.
Sample #2
The branches all flow out from the main spine quite nicely.
Even the back looked good.
So I was pretty happy with how that sample looked. But then I put my critical eyes on and decided that while it was pretty it was a bit unexciting. And if I'm stitching feathers why is most of the sample background filler? And the base of the spine looks a bit silly sitting there in mid-air. I was happy though that I was starting to get a shape I liked with my lobes.

 So — third sample.
The spine emerges from a corner which then enabled me to base my main feather shape on the Koru (a spiral shape based on an unfurling Silver Fern frond, used alot in NZ Maori art).
I tried to make this one take up most of my fabric!
And decided simple background fillers could possibly be quite effective. 
I also experimented a bit with overlapping the plumes, and how to do
feather lobes in the middle of a spiral!
Ok, but could I stop there? No!! How about the feather sitting in something? How about a bit more whimsy, a bit more playing...?
So — fourth sample.
I sat this feather in a horseshoe and played a bit with spirals and flourishes within the lobes.
Sample #4

 I realy loved stitching this one up and can see me playing some more :-)
Here are the 4 samples together, showing you the actual colours used!
Each bound one is about the size of an A4 piece of paper.
They were all stitched with Aurifil 40 weight and the batting used is
a 90:10 wool:poly mix.
Thank you Joanne for a great tutorial and for getting me to think outside the square with my feathers. Thank you to SewCalGal for hosting the FMQ challenge. To see more feather adventures from this challenge, go to this link and click on everyone's link-up pictures.
Happy sewing! See you another time,


margaret said...

I am in total awe at these samples Raewyn, they look as though they have been stitched by someone who has been doing them for years. You are so hard on your work when it is already wonderful.Popped over and read how to try a bump bump method.
Your echo quilting one I was convinced that you had used a twin needle as your lines are so accurate but popped over to the link and see it is single needle, another wow from me.

BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Your work is breathtaking!

Susan said...

Wow, that's really impressive quilting. I think they all look fantastic.

Janet O. said...

Oh, my goodness, Raewyn, this is amazing! Makes me feel like I need to go back and do mine over again. You have been so creative--and so good!! Lovely work!

Deb R said...

Ohh how I love these! I had a goal to learn how to machine quilt this year. I bought 2 craftsy courses and its October lol

Peg - Happy In Quilting said...

Oh My......they are amazing all of them.......

Fiona said...

they look fabulous... you seem to have a really good eye for keeping on the same line when you track over a stitched line.... I love feathers as they are so forgiving ... and I learnt lots from your samples and explanations!!

marina said...

how amazing, I love sample no three. Definitely looks like an unfurling frond, so beautiful and all pieces look so perfect!
well done.

Lesley said...

Fantastic feathers!

Doniene said...

AMAZING!!!!! I too have been thinking about feathers - you and Janet O. "intimidate" me - so I'm still just thinking!! LOL Really, you both inspire me so!!! I've just had so many "have to get done" projects that I've not played with new designs yet. I did use hooked feathers on Nene's Royale, but haven't quilted a feather since!!

Sorry I didn't comment on your last post - some how I missed it. Cute little reindeer!!! And can't wait to see the border!!!

Blessings and hugs from Texas!!

JoAnne said...

Wow! I am amazed. I guess I must make some sandwiches and get to watching tutorials. I want to conquer the feather, but my biggest problem is that I have a hard time visualizing it, so I should practice drawing, too. I love the spiral/Maori image you incorporated for the NZ-feel.

Sheila said...

Wow ! They are perfect Raewyn , you have really mastered feathers , love your samples :-)

Linda said...

Wow! I am in awe. Just gorgeous. You sure know what you like and went after it.

Wendy said...

Wow Raewyn, your quilting is amazing! All your samples are beautiful.

Sharon @ OSEWDIVINE said...

Boy what fantastic feathers, I've been dreaming about trying these you make them look easy. Great work just love your projects

Kerry said...

Raewyn they are sooooooooo good. Well done. Hugs xx

Charlotte Scott said...

Wow, that takes dedication to really sit down and work through like that. I could really see your development too from sample to sample. Loved the koru one - very different and unique. And how often does your husband arrange flowers?!

Carrie P. said...

WOW! I think you got the hang of quilting feathers. That are all so great.

SewCalGal said...



Tatkis said...

Wow! Fantastic quilting, you are a real master!


Karens Quilts, Crows and Cardinals said...

Raewyn -- these are just beautiful! Congratulations on FMQ Challenge Win.... now -- don't go MAD because you may have to help me learn and perfect feathers... ha ha ha! Hugs, Karen on Keuka