Feather Stitch

Feather Stitch

Feather stitch sample

Feather stitch is a wonderfully versatile, decorative, surface embroidery stitch. It is also known as single coral stitch, and briar stitch. Feather stitch is found extensively on traditional English smocks, Dorset embroidery and on crazy quilts.

Feather stitch sample on crazy quilting 1

You can easily give a contemporary twist to the traditional uses of feather stitch, particularly if you use modern variegated threads or add a bead or two. In this sample I added cast-on stitch to the arms of feather stitch

Feather stitch sample on crazy quilting 2

Keep the centre of the stitch on the curved line you want to follow. That way you will find that Feather stitch will easily sit on a curve. This ability to hold a curve, means the stitch ideal to use in any motif that is organic in feel, such as floral sprays, vines, and twisting twig-like stems. It also looks great in underwater scenes, as the flowing lines are very suitable to represent corals and seaweed.

Crazy Quilt Block 93 detail 604

More examples

Here I used Feather stitch on Block 93 of my I Dropped the Button Box Quilt. I worked this sample using cotton perle #5 and I added white seed beads to the arms.

Here a small seam covered with Feather stitch used on Block 77 on my I Dropped the Button Box Quilt. I then added bullion knots. Both the feather stitch and the bullion’s are created using cotton perle #5 thread.

Crazy quilt detail 507

Feather stitch, is here embellished with seed beads and bugle beads.

Crazy Quilt seam detail
Feather stitch sample underwater marine scene

Feather stitch can vary greatly depending on the width of space between the two tops of Y, the angle of your needle, spacing changes in the length of stitches and regularity of stitches.

Feather stitch sample 1

It really is one of those stitches you can experiment with for years and still discover new ways of using it. As you can see above, I have worked 3 arms to one side and 3 to the other. This creates a totally different look to the stitch.

Feather stitch sample 3

In the top part of this sample ( above) I added a detached chain stitch to the ends of the arms. And then I worked a second row of the pattern to create a fill or complex border. You can also work it row against row to create wonderful patterns and designs.

Feather stitch sample 2

Instructions on how to work feather stitch 

When working this stitch, imagine or mark 4 parallel lines with a dissolvable pen.

Step by step instructions for feather stitch 1

Bring the thread up through the fabric at the top left of where you want to create the stitch. Hold the thread down with the left thumb and insert the needle to the right, and level with where the thread emerged. Make a stitch on a downward angle so that the needle emerges between the two points, as illustrated. With the thread wrapped under the needle, pull it through the fabric to make the stitch.

Step by step instructions for feather stitch 2

Insert the needle to the left and level with where the thread emerged. Make a stitch on a downward angle so that the needle emerges between the two points as illustrated. With the thread wrapped under the needle, pull it through the fabric to make the next stitch.

Step by step instructions for feather stitch 3

Work these movements alternatively down the line.

Step by step instructions for feather stitch 4

Hopefully, there will not be too many tangles!

Feather stitch sample on crazy quilting 3

Have you seen my Crazy Quilting book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results shares detailed practical methods about how to design and make a crazy quilt. From fabric choice, to balancing colour, texture, and pattern, in order to balance and direct the eye around the block.  I cover how to stitch, build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

Please note if you buy one of my books via this link as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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  1. Yay, another one of my favourite stitches! Not just because of the swedish name, kråkspark, that literally means crow kick. My fingers are already itching to start.

    Just wanted to show something I did a few months ago in a simple beaded version of feather stitch:

  2. Pingback: embroidery stitches feather stitch - Studio Paars: embroidery classes

      1. Yay, satu lagi jahitan favorit saya! Bukan hanya karena nama Swedia, kråkspark, yang secara harfiah berarti tendangan gagak. Jari-jari saya sudah gatal untuk memulai.

        Hanya ingin menunjukkan sesuatu yang saya lakukan beberapa bulan yang lalu dalam versi jahitan bulu manik-manik sederhana:

  3. Pingback: ,,,TAST 2012 #3: Feather Stitch - Studio Paars: embroidery feather stitch

  4. Pingback: ,,,TAST 2012 #3: Feather Stitch - Studio Paars: borduren feather stitch

  5. Sharon, as always your work is so exquisitely inspiring!! The piece with the red and hold cloth is so beautiful that I unmediated captured it for my next screen wallpaper as it reminds me of the sea!!

  6. I finally finished my Week 2 – Buttonhole Stitch! Yeah…it took me forever because I decided to try making a sort of stylized flower thingy. I'm afraid it's not the greatest. I definitely need practice doing this stitch–it's not one I use a lot. But, I can see it's potential and it would be a great stitch to have in my library. OK, so I'll do a sampler of buttonhole stitches and see if my flowers improve. LOL. Here's the link to my photo for Week 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sue_u/6740072273/in/set-72157628709486935


    Sue Utterback
  7. I was rather intimidated when I saw this stitch, and put it off until Saturday. After learning it, I think it may be my second favorite stitch (my top one is still the blanket/buttonhole). What a joy to learn the feather stitch this week!

    Had fun putting together a two-page spread in my embroidery journal with feathers I found in the pasture, postage stamps of birds, a journal entry, gratitude list, and the stitching. Here's the link:


  8. Go here: http://beautifulmetaphor.blogspot.com/2012/01/tast-week-three-feather-stitch.html

    to see part of my adventures with this stitch. I incorporated it again into a bigger work I'm already embarked on, and had a good time doing it! I do enjoy the surprise each week of a new stitch to either review or learn, and incorporate into ongoing work. And I've been very pleased with the nice people who've stopped by and commented on my blog, an expected side benefit!

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