Feather Stitch

Feather stitch sampleFeather stitch is a wonderfully versatile, decorative, surface embroidery stitch that 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 1The 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

Feather stitch sample on crazy quilting 2Keep the center of the stitch on the curved line you want to follow and you will find that Feather stitch will sit on a  curve easily. 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 twiggy like stems. It also looks great in underwater scenes as the flowing lines are very suitable to represent corals and seaweed.

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

Feather stitch sample 1It 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.

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 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 with a dissolvable pen 4 parallel lines.

Step by step instructions for feather stitch 1Bring 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 a level of 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 2Insert the needle to the left and a level of 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 3Work these movements alternatively down the line.

Step by step instructions for feather stitch 4Hopefully there will not be too many tangles!

Feather stitch sample on crazy quilting 3


Have you seen my 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 on how to design and make a crazy quilt. Topics such as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to create movement to direct your viewers eye around the block are covered in detail. I also explain how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help you take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish your seams  with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

using my stitchers Templates set 2These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 


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

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

  3. 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!!

  4. 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
  5. 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:


  6. 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!

  7. Here's my attempt at doing a feather stitch incorporated into a seam treatment on a challenge block I'm doing on one of the CQ lists. I used a variegated green thread from ThreadWorx for the feather stitch, then added some small beaded flowers using 7-8 beads of 3 seed bead colors. The seam is finished off with some SRE leaves. Hope you like it! Here's the link to my photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sue_u/6715060883/in/photostream/


    Sue Utterback

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *