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.
The traditional uses of feather stitch are easily given a contemporary twist 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
Keep the centre of the stitch on the curved line you want to follow, and 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.
Here Feather stitch is used on Block 93 of my I Dropped the Button Box Quilt. This sample is worked 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.
Feather stitch, is here embellished with seed beads and bugle beads.
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.
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 in the sample above, I have worked 3 arms to one side and 3 to the other creating a totally different look to the stitch.
In the top part of this sample ( above) I added a detached chain stitch to the ends of the arms and then 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.
Instructions on how to work feather stitch
When working this stitch, imagine or mark 4 parallel lines with a dissolvable pen.
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.
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.
Work these movements alternatively down the line.
Hopefully, there will not be too many tangles!
Have you seen my book?
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 using colour, texture and pattern to direct the eye around the block. I cover how to stitch as well as creative and interesting ways to build decorative seam treatments. My book is profusely illustrated to be both practical and inspiring.
As someone who loves embroidery and crazy quilting, I designed these templates with real stitchers in mind. You can use them to create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily. And they are compact enough to fit easily in your sewing box.
To see what they look like, find out about the free ebook of patterns that come with them, visit the information pages in the Pintangle shop.