Feather wreath tutorial

Have you ever tried to FMQ a feather wreath? Did you know you do not need a stencil to do one?

I have taken lots of pictures to show you how. Soooo… get ready for this picture heavy post!


Before we start:

– I used a Frixion pen to draw on the fabric. The lines disappear when heated (iron), but may appear when the fabric gets really cold. So maybe not the best pen to use on fabric that will be used in freezing temperatures, like in a car.

– In order to create this tutorial I did have to break thread many times. I also did not bury the thread but cut them off with the automatic cutter on my Janome Horizon 7700. So, there will be some bunching of thread visible. I can live with that in a sample, but would do that differently on an actual quilt.

– You can use a protractor to divide the circles in equal distances. I just eyeballed the distances and it worked fine!

– Please look through the whole post before you try this yourself. There are some things you may need to want to do differently.

– I have broken up the marking of the circles to make sure I would not accidentally “hit” the wrong one. You may want to mark the circles all in one go so you do not need to break thread halfway.

– My example is 10×10 inches.


Step 1. Draw three concentric circles on your fabric. I used two bowls from the kitchen. The third (inner) circle I drew myself. Try to get the same distance between the circles. In my example there is about 1 inch between each circle.


Step 2: Mark the middle of the middle circle’s line! Do that in all four quarters of the middle circle.


Step 3: Now guesstimate the middle between the mark you just made and the corners of the quarters. Mark those in all four quarters. (Of course you can use a ruler or protrator if you want your marks to be more accurate. )


Step 4: Now repeat step 2 and 3 for the entire INNER circle.

This is what you end up with:


Step 5: Ready for some stitches?  Start at whatever mark you want on the MIDDLE circle!

Here is a more detailed shot.

Select a starting mark on the MIDDLE circle.

Start with following the middle circle up to the next mark.

Now curve towards the INNER circle and hit the next mark on that inner circle.

Continue INTO the inner circle and hit the next mark.


Step 6: Now we go onto the second move!

A more detailed shot:

Back track to the previous mark.

Stitch another gorgeous bump IN the inner circle while hitting the next mark.

Now curve back toward the MIDDLE circle and hit the mark there.


Step 7: Now go round the whole circle repeating the two previous steps! Do not forget to start with following the circle first for one  whole mark!!! (look at pictures in step 5)

You can do it!!!

Here is another shot of the stitching without the pen lines.

As you can see, there are areas of the MIDDLE circle that are not stitched yet. I have marked them in the next picture.

If you want to you can now stitch the middle circle completely. You can also wait, like I have done.


We are half way now!


Step 8: We are going to divide the outer circle in equal distances. It is up to you to decide how you want to do that!

You could divide just like you have done in step 2 and 3. The  feather petals will become very fat and it may be hard to stitch nice curves.

I decided to first divide each quarter in half (large arrow) and then divide the distance into three equal parts (smaller arrows).

This is what the sample looked like after marking.

Repeat the marking process on the MIDDLE circle.


Step 9: Let’s get back to stitching! We will go through the same steps as before!

Select a mark on the MIDDLE circle.

Follow the circle up to the next mark.

Curve toward the OUTER circle and hit the mark there.

Now stitch out off the OUTER circle and curve back toward that outer circle. Make a nice bump!


Step 10: Now the second part of our movement!

A more detailed shot:

Back track along your bump and hit the mark.

Now bump again and hot the next mark on the OUTER circle.

Now curve back toward the MIDDLE circle and hit the mark.


Step 11. Go round the whole wreath!

Remember that there were some areas from the MIDDLE circle that were still unstitched? Some bits you may have hit already, but there will be areas undone!

Go round the MIDDLE circle and you are done!


Step 12: Add some echoes , stipples and pebbles or any stitches of your liking!

TIP: If you want your whole decorated wreath to fit IN A BLOCK, start with a SMALLER OUTER circle! As you can see my wreath hits the edges of the block. You may want to change that!

All done!

Try some yourself!

Here are some more examples of feather wreaths. All 10×10 inches.

This next wreath was actually my first one. Look at the middle of the wreath on the right. Do you see that the petals are not even? I started the wreath with a whole petal instead of just a partial petal. Please look carefully at step 5 of the tutorial above! Start with an incomplete petal!!!

A careful attempt to use a longarm ruler on my Janome 7700 in the centre of this wreath. Not bad, but not fabulous either. Still waiting for the special ruler toe to arrive from the UK so I can use the rulers without danger of it slipping under the needle and breaking a needle on the ruler.

Simple echoing around the feather creates a ripple effect It reminds me of ocean waves.

You could go fancy if you wanted to!

Please look at the petals on the outside. See that they have a different angle to the one in my tutorial? That is because I hit the “next mark over” instead of just the next mark. (Skip one mark when you start so the petals become more elongated) This wreath seems to “turn faster”

Some teeny tiny McTavishing in the corners…

See how the pebbles directly besides the feather make it POP? It creates a contrast in colour because of the thread colour but most importantly it makes the feather petals really stand out with POOF!

I added another echo to create an empty barrier before adding the McTavishing. With the traditional  feather motifs I like to use more defined spaces for each new FMQ pattern instead of making them flow into each other.

And some swirls in the centre! I could have eliminated the echo there.

Now off you go, boys and girls! Kiss and hug your loved ones and create some gorgeous wreaths! Let me know if you post them on your blog or flickr. I would love to come and admire them!!!



Linking up with Amy’s Free Motion Quilting Adventures for Free Motion Mondays

29 thoughts on “Feather wreath tutorial

  1. Thank you! I’ve tremendously enjoyed the FMQ samples you’ve been sharing and this tutorial breaks things down for a feather wreath so clearly!

  2. Your tutorial is great!! Very detailed and really makes a feather wreath possible–think I’ll try it when our company leaves this weekend. Thanks so much for all of your help!

    • Hello Diana!
      I hope you wreath turned out nice! I have been playing with another wreath idea. I hope to be able to show this next weekend.
      I hope you have a wonderdul day!

  3. Thanks for the tutorial Esther. Your instructions looks very clear and you even make it look easy. One of these days I give it a go. You do an amazing job with your feathers and McTavishing.

    • I think wreaths look gorgeous too with just one side of feathers! 🙂 Especially with some echoes and a filler like pebbles! Simple combinations make the feathers really shine, right?
      Have a great day!

  4. Beautiful! You are an AWESOME teacher; all of a sudden I notice quilting all around me .. from kitchen paper to placemats, to bedding.

    • Hi Diana,
      Yes we all find our own way to do things. I just love that there are more than one way to do things!
      I am really impressed with your wreath! Especially knowing that you did not makr it like I did!

  5. Late to my own party….. Very nicely done! Clever girl. I use the circles to mark the spine and the inner and outer limits of the plumes. Your divisionary marks make it so uniform.

  6. Great tutorial! I always love your quilting. I’m not that great at the feathers yet, but love how they look. Gorgeous!

  7. This is the best feather tutorial I’ve seen, and I’ve looked at hundreds. Can you make a tut on feathers that aren’t in a circle? This is actually the first one i’ve found to be semi easy.

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