Free Motion Quilting Feathers

Awhile back, a friend of mine and fellow Indy Modern Quilt Guild member, Meghan asked if I could longarm quilt a top she had made that was too big for her machine. I don’t blame her one bit for not wanting to wrestle with that quilt sandwich! Measuring at 80″ x 100″ that is one massive top. It fits nicely on a queen pictured below.

meghan quilt front

Since I only recently started longarm quilting, Meghan understood that this would a “beginners” quilt. She was very into random designs all over the quilt, so that’s what I gave her. 🙂 It provided me the chance to work on some new designs and work out my current thread breakage and tension issues.

meghan quilt front detail

As I worked through the thread breakage issues, I found that my machine can *only* take 100% poly thread. Yeah, yeah, I know. Experienced longarmers swear by poly thread, but I wanted to make sure on my specific machine. It’s good to know your options for the future. 🙂

So, once I decided on poly, my color choices were limited since I mostly have cotton thread in stock. I ended up choosing a light brown, which turned out shiny on the quilt. AWESOME! Meghan even asked if I used metallic thread it was so shiny, which is pretty cool since I didn’t. lol. I suppose having to use only 100% polyester isn’t so bad after all.

meghan quilt back

While Meghan’s top is pretty cool, I’m really digging the back. But that’s just because I was super nervous quilting this quilt (did I mention it was my first quilt on the longarm that was someone else’s top??). It was also my first time free motion quilting feathers on an actual quilt top (as opposed to a practice sandwich).

I LOVE the way the feathers pop when using a dense-er filler. Normally I’m not one for dense quilting (it’s just so heavy to lay under), but this looks fantastic. So now I’ve accepted that dense quilting is okay, if it’s on the right quilt project.

meghan quilt center feather

There is a large feather down the center of the quilt (picture above). I’ll be honest, the fact that it is in the center was a happy accident. I was so focused on making the quilting look good, that I didn’t really plan out where the feathers sat overall on the quilt.

I’m actually very proud of this feather. As I worked through Angela Walter’s Craftsy class on fmq feathers, I had a lot of trouble with the “Custom” feather. I just couldn’t get the shape of the petals to form and look anything remotely like a feather. BUT when I went to quilt them on Meghan’s quilt, something clicked in my brain and they became so much easier! I still need a lot of practice, but I think this feather looks pretty good for my first quilt. 🙂

meghan quilt filler

For my filler next to the feathers, I used Amy’s blog tutorial on Graffiti Quilting. I combined swirls, paisley, meander feathers, meander flowers, stacked coins, and pebbling. The key thing to remember with filler is keeping it all at the same scale. I tend to make the paisleys and swirls bigger than the other designs, possibly because I’m more familiar with those two fillers? So it was hard keeping track of the scale and making it even.

meghan quilt small feathers

Here are just a few more eye candy detailed photos of the feather quilting. Some are basic feathers and some are custom. I really tried to work on all the different kinds of feathers in Angela’s class since this was the perfect quilt to do so. 🙂

meghan quilt side feather


I hope you like my work! I look forward to more longarm practice, and hope to take on a few more quilt tops in the future. 🙂

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