Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Feather Swap Tutorial (non-paper piecing method)

I chose to make these blocks this way simply because it worked better for me with this particular block.  If you like to paper piece, go for it!  The rules for this challenge/block exchange are that each participating member makes 15 blocks, the 6 x 12 size, using solids or patterned batiks.  Marija's lovely patterns are here. (The post can be located in the October 2013 meeting post/feather swap)

Hopefully, this will help...though I have been told that my method is confusing...all I can say is that it worked for me and I had so much fun making these once I got into the swing of it. So...onward!

First, choose your range of colors and fabrics.  I love my solids, so that's what I'm using. I like a range of darks and lights.  The strips are cut very straight, selvedge to selvedge (so that they will match up once the parts for the feather are cut.)  In most of my quilting I don't use a ruler, but I used one for this.  Don't forget to add seam allowances for your strips.  Most of them are in the range of 1/2" - 1" finished width.  You need 10-12 strips per feather, depending on your widths.  Once you have them cut, pin them up or lay them out to decide how you want them.
Next, stitch these together.  I stitch them in pairs, chain stitching to keep them in order. I mark the left hand side with a pin so when I clip to press, I can keep them straight.  I do press after each seam - makes a nicer finish!

 Looks like a jumble - but since they are chain pieced and marked they are easy to sort!
 Keep sewing the pairs together ...
...each set is marked with a pin to the left...pressed each time...

Once you get all of the strips sewn together, the fun part begins!  Fold the strip set in half, right sides together.  Double check that your set is wide enough by placing the pattern on top at a 45 degree angle.  The strip set should be as wide as the strips on the pattern with 1/4" at either end to allow for seam allowances. If it's bigger, that's okay, you'll just end up trimming off a bit more.  

 Strip set folded in half, stripes matching up since they were cut evenly with a ruler, right sides together.
 Audition your set both ways by folding down the top part at a 45 degree angle, top to bottom then bottom to top.  Put the pattern next to the set so that you can tell which way the feathers would go.  Do you want the dark stripe at the top or bottom?  It's your choice! 

Once you determine which will be the bottom of your feather, cut a 3 1/2 " strip of white (selvedge to selvedge) and stitch it to the bottom of your strip set. Press. Replace your strip set on the table, folded in half with right sides together again, and open it up with the pattern next to you to make sure you are cutting at the correct angle.

I cut mine 2" wide, but honestly this gave no room for error.  I would suggest cutting them 2 1/4" or 2 1/2" wide. You would end up with 4 instead of 5 sets, but you would have a little more leeway.  Up to you! I had to cut mine a tiny bit narrow at the base for this set.    At any rate, you end up with nice sets of feathers ready to be sewn onto stems! (it's getting fun, now!)
Cut your black stems 3/4", so when they are sewn the stems will be 1/4".
Sew on the first half, chain piecing...
then press.
 To get the two sides to match perfectly, mark the stem 1/4" from the edge...

 Put the other half next to it, then flip over so you know you have it in the correct place...
 mark the other half 1/4 " at the seam...these two points need to match so that the feathers will line up.
 Place a pin through the two points and keep it perfectly vertical...
Take another pin to hold the fabric together, while pinching the fabric at your vertical pin. Once the second pin is in place you can remove your vertical pin and then pin the rest of the seam...stitch and press.
Soon, you will have this:
Now it's time to shape these feathers up.  This is where I pin the pattern onto my feathers--Lining the point of the stem, etc...then fold back the pattern and cut out the feather shape...

Three pins along the stem work well to hold it in place.
Remember, when you trim add 1/4" seam allowance!!!!

So you will get these:
 They are so pretty you will have to play a little! Especially if you have more feathers...INTERMISSION!

Okay, okay...back to work...(but, seriously, doesn't that give you ideas for about 12 more quilts?)
 This is the part I call adding the "hats" to the feathers.  Cut a few 3 1/2" squares in half to get triangles and sew them to the top of your feather...
 trimming and pressing as you go...
Making sure the point forms right in the center of the stem.  So pretty!
 For the sides, cut a 13" strip selvedge to selvedge and cut this into some 6" x 13" rectangles. 

measure each rectangle 2" from one side at the top and 2" from the other side at the bottom and you will get several sets of these side shapes.  Place the wide parts at the top of the feather, and the narrow at the bottom and stitch and press.  Just a little clean up with your rotary cutter and...You are done!!

This is my method...I hope you enjoyed and I hope it helps!  Of course, if you prefer paper piecing or another method...go for it!!  Happy feathers... Anne


  1. Anne! This is amazing- you are a natural at tutorials. I'm inspired to get back to my feathers!!

  2. Me too! A wonderful tutorials and I just love, love, LOVE your feathers - so excited I will have one!! :)

  3. Nice! makes me want to sew some up.... ;-). almost. (i am not starting anything new until I catch up on my "I need/want" list... )

  4. Thank you for the feedback on my first tutorial!