Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bump-Bump Feathers

Recently I have realized that my favourite feathers to quilt are Bump-Bump feathers, so I thought I should add a tutorial here.

I find that bump-bump feathers are easier to quilt than traditional feathers, and that they are more organic in appearance, which I seem to really like now. Traditional feathers tend to be more symmetrical and even.

This is just how I quilt the feathers. Feathers are like signatures and everyones will be different. This is also how I like to quilt - everyone is different and will figure out what works for them.

I have talked about free motion quilting feathers on a domestic sewing machine before (here is the link for my first feather tutorial with video), and I went more into depth about FMQ. For this tutorial and video I assume that you already have seen the other post.

This is my wonderful sewing machine - Sapphire 870 Quilt by Husqvarna (in its lovely new cabinet - the best investment for FMQ).

I use a spring action quilting foot (and set my machine to the Spring Action setting in the menu), there is a single hole throat plate on my machine (that has really helped with tension problems that I had with quilting), and the feed dogs are up (I find that it is easier to control the movement of the fabric this way). I don't have a slider or any other fancy gadgets other than quilting gloves (clean gardening gloves or rubber gloves work in a pinch).

Here is a video (this one works now) of me quilting Bump-Bump feathers (I have already pulled up the bobbin thread and taken a few anchoring stitches) -

You will notice that I quilt slowly.

the completed bump-bump feather

I used a 50Wt Aurifil thread, in a contrasting colour, so that it would show well on the video, usually I use thread that matches the fabric, and I prefer a finer thread (100WT) so that the back tracking is less visible.

Concentrate on getting nice smooth shapes, and worry about stitch length as your quilting improves. Short stitches are better than stitches that are too long (long stitches make corners in curves). It is important to listen to the sound of your machine, without really thinking you will know how fast to move your hands (all that sewing pays off here).

I thought I should add some written explanations for quilting bump-bump feathers too -

I start from the bottom (and it is easiest for me to work towards myself, but we are supposed to be able to free motion quilt in every direction). Make a nice shape at the tip of the feather, and backtrack down the stem.

Stitch a complete tear drop lobe at the base of the stem. This can be quite small. Make sure that the tear drop comes off at a nice low angle (less than 45° to the stem).

Come out at a nice low angle again, between the stem and the first lobe,

stitch around to touch the previous lobe,

stitch back over the top of the lobe you just made,

and then bounce back out to form the next lobe, coming back around to the stem.

This is how the Bump-Bump feather gets its name.

Keep working up the side.

When you get close to the tip, decide if one more lobe will fit or if the space can be divided in half to fit two more bump-bump lobes.

Travel back down the stem and complete the other side.

If you want to make a split feather, before traveling all the way back down, add another stem from the centre (it is at a low angle too).

To work the lobes you need to start with a tear drop shape between the two stems.

Create the bump-bump lobes the same way as above, making sure when you work the lobes on the first side that you leave enough space for the lobes on the other side.

A close up of a split feather from my Vase and Feathers sample.

Tight inside curves are easier to quilt with organic bump-bump feathers, because you can make small lobes, with bigger ones curving around.

some tight curves on my Vase and Feathers sample

Another tight curve from my 72 Shades of Red table mat.

Since the feather border went completely around this quilt, I stitched the centre stem first, and when I was back to the beginning I started the lobes (no back tracking).

The feathers in my Bali Baby Jane border are between corner blocks, and so back tracking was involved. On this feather I didn't quilt lobes along the whole stem, one side is missing a few lobes near the seam (click on the photo to enlarge).

Here is a variation for the stem -

Instead of back tracking directly down the stem, leave open areas.

After completing the bump-bump lobes on the first side, travel down the stem creating pearls in the open spaces (the pearls are like figure-8's, but you complete one full circle before traveling to the next and completing it in the opposite direction - I hope that makes sense to you).

Here is a feather with pearls down the centre (this is from my October Free Motion Quilting Challenge sample quilt). I also added some extra embellishments to this feather.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!
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