Saturday, March 18, 2023

Feathers Four Ways: Quilts for Janita, Paula, Mildred + Nanette

Happy Weekend, fellow quilt lovers!  I have been finishing a lot more quilts than blog posts over the past few months and it has created a backlog of unshared photos on my camera roll.  Today I'm sharing four different clients' quilts that I quilted with four different allover feather quilting designs, with a brief discussion of how the design, thread, and batting choices were selected for each quilt.  Here's a quick glimpse of the four quilts I'll be talking about today, made by my clients Janita, Paula, Mildred, and Nanette, and quilted by Yours Truly:

Clockwise from Top Left: Feathers and Pearls I, Angel Wings, Abundant Feathers, Fast Feathers

Janita's Flying Geese Sampler: Abundant Feathers

Janita chose the Abundant Feathers quilting design for her cheerful flying geese sampler quilt (I don't have the name of her quilt pattern but if anyone recognizes it, please let me know and I'll update the post accordingly).  I just love the playful energy of her color palette of red, pink and aqua against a crisp white background!

Janita's 70 x 87 Flying Geese Sampler with Abundant Feathers E2E

Abundant Feathers is a very versatile design that looks good on a lot of different quilts from modern to traditional or reproduction quilts.  There is extensive backtracking/overstitching in this design, which is why I recommended lightweight So Fine 50 wt matte polyester quilting thread in Pearl (this post contains affiliate links).  With a thin thread like So Fine, your eye isn't drawn to the double-stitched quilting lines, and on a quilt like this one that has high contrast between the background and pieced block fabrics, skinny So Fine thread will seem to "take on" the color of the fabric it's stitching across, appearing like a pale pink against the red fabric and pale blue against the aqua.  A thicker white or cream thread would not have blended into the darker fabrics that way.  We wanted to keep the focus on the variety of pieced blocks and fabrics in Janita's sampler quilt, with the feather quilting playing more of a supporting role.  One more thing to notice about Abundant Feathers is how evenly spaced the quilting is across the surface of the quilt with this design, compared to some of the other feather designs we'll be looking at in today's post.  That's something to think about when choosing between similar quilting designs, whether you prefer a balanced overall texture like Abundant Feathers or whether you want to see some variety between the more open feather parts of a design verses the denser details of pearls, echoes, etc.  

Abundant Feathers in So Fine Pearl Thread with Cotton Deluxe Loft Batting

Janita might have been my first guinea pig client to try Quilters Dream Deluxe Loft Cotton batting when I started stocking it several months ago.  Per the manufacturer, the Deluxe Loft is 50% heavier than their Select midloft cotton batting, so it's worth seeking out if you're someone who feels like the most widely available cotton battings don't have enough substance.  I just love the way the Deluxe Loft gives just a bit more weight and definition to the quilting texture while still looking and feeling like a traditional quilt.  This has quickly become one of my favorite battings.

Janita's Sampler Quilt Top Before Quilting

Paula's "Sky and Sea" Hunter Star Quilt: Fast(er) Feathers 

I believe Paula used Laundry Basket Quilt's Sky and Sea quilt pattern as well as Laundry Basket fabrics for her serene Hunter Star quilt, but you could also make a quilt like this using the AccuQuilt GO! Hunter Star BOB (Block On Board) Die if you wanted to.  The Hunter Star is a great pattern for showing off a beautiful collection of monotone fabric prints like Paula's, but it would also look wonderful made up in an assortment of scrappy prints.

Paula's 64 x 64 Sky and Sea/Hunter Star Quilt with Fast Feathers

Paula chose a quilting design called Fast Feathers for her quilt, but "Fast" is a bit misleading!  Maybe it's faster than Abundant Feathers, but there is still a fair amount of backtracking/overstitching in this design.  At the scale I stitched this design on Paula's quilt, it took approximately an hour and forty-five minutes of stitching time per square yard.  So, faster than some feathers, maybe, but not what I'd consider a speedy stitcher!  Notice how Fast Feathers incorporates occasional pearls or bubbles into the feather design with just a bit of echoing here and there.  Those details, along with the pointy curl shaped feathers at the base of each spine, make this particular feather design feel a little less formal than Abundant Feathers.

Detail of Fast Feathers with Blue Variegated Thread, Bamboo/Silk/Cotton Batting

I was originally planning to use an off-white blender thread on Paula's quilt, but when the day came to do the quilting I changed my mind and went with a variegated blue thread instead.  Paula had expressed a preference for 100% cotton thread that would blend in with her fabrics.  Because cotton is a weaker fiber than polyester, the thinnest cotton thread that is strong enough to run in a long arm quilting machine is a lot thicker and more visible than the So Fine polyester thread I used in Janita's quilt, and I didn't like the way the thicker off white cotton threads were distracting when I unspooled them across the blue print fabrics in Paula's quilt top.  On a whim, I grabbed a cone of King Tut 40 wt variegated cotton thread in Angel Teal (another misleading name -- there is no green or teal in the Angel Teal thread) to audition instead.  Love at first sight! This thread was such a perfect color match that it was like Superior had custom dyed the thread to match the Laundry Basket fabric collection!

Auditioning King Tut 40 wt Cotton in Angel Teal on Paula's Quilt Top

I never use 40 weight cotton in my bobbin, though, for a number of reasons.  Bobbins can hold many more yards of lighter weight threads, meaning fewer bobbin changes and fewer places where the bobbin runs out and I have to break thread in the middle of a row of quilting.  Perfect tension is easier to achieve and maintain throughout the quilt when the bobbin thread is a slightly lighter weight than the needle thread.  I used Superior's Masterpiece 50/3 cotton thread in Bisque in my bobbin for Paula's quilt, which resulted in gorgeous stitches on both sides of the quilt with a slightly different effect on the back of the quilt compared to the front.  Don't you love the way Paula incorporated leftover quilt blocks into her pieced backing fabric?

Paula's Pieced Backing, Bobbin Thread is Masterpiece 50 wt Cotton in Bisque

Paula chose Quilters Dream Bamboo/Silk/Cotton batting for her quilt, a breathable, lighter weight batting that has a wonderful drape and snuggle factor.  Here's what Paula's quilt top looked like before I quilted it:

Paula's Quilt Top Before Quilting

Mildred's Patricia One-Fabric Kaleidoscope: Angel Feathers

Next up for your viewing pleasure, we have Mildred's Patricia One-Fabric Kaleidoscope Quilt.  This is a kit designed by Jason Yenter for In the Beginning fabrics and you can find the entire kit, the pattern alone, and the fabric for sale on Etsy here if you'd like to make one of these yourself.

Mildred's 83 x 83 Patricia One-Fabric Kaleidoscope with Angel Feathers

I know it's hard to see the quilting design in the photos of Mildred's quilt -- that's on purpose, thanks to the skinny So Fine thread in Barely Green that I chose for its chameleon ability to disappear against all of the pretty watercolor pastels in the fabric!  In the line drawing below, you can see how the Angel Wings feather design has a lot more variation in quilting density than either Abundant Feathers or Fast Feathers, with open spaces between the feather motifs and densely quilted strings of pearl trailing along the feather spines.

Line Drawing of Angel Wings E2E Quilting Design

What really made Angel Wings stand out as the best feather design for Mildred's quilt was its romantic, lacy quality.  I like the way the Angel Wings design creates a swirling movement across the front of the quilt that complements the the octagonal kaleidoscope blocks, like a gust of April wind through a Spring garden, and the little quilted pearls in this quilting design look just like the dew drops that are printed on the rose petals of this crisp and highly detailed digitally printed fabric.  This quilt top had a little excess fulness in some of the kaleidoscope blocks, and that's always a consideration when we're choosing quilting designs and batting for a quilt.  I recommended Hobbs Tuscany 80/20 Cotton/Wool for this quilt because it has just a bit more loft to camouflage fulness than 100% cotton or a cotton/poly blend, without resulting in a "puffy" look to the finished quilt.  The combination of swirls, curls, pearls and feather plumes in the Angel Wings design also helped to divide, distribute and disguise those areas where the piecing didn't turn out quite as flat as Mildred had hoped.  The right quilting design and batting can make a huge difference for quilt tops with minor fullness issues or wavy borders.  Mildred's quilt turned out looking beautiful, didn't it?

Detail of Angel Feathers in So Fine Barely Green Thread + Hobbs Cotton/Wool Batting

I neglected to get a good picture of Mildred's quilt top before quilting it, so I can't show you a Before Quilting photo for this one.

Nanette's Star of Chamblie Quilt: Feathers and Pearls I

Last but certainly not least, we have Nanette's exquisite Star of Chamblie Feathered Star sampler quilt.  This originated from a pattern by Marsha McCloskey that you can purchase on Amazon here, although Nanette has made changes to make the design her own.  You can read more about Nanette's journey with this quilt on her blog here.

Feathered Stars with Feathers and Pearls I

The Feathers and Pearls I quilting design we chose for Nanette's Star of Chamblie combines backtracked, evenly spaced feathers similar to Abundant Feathers with string of pearl embellishments like we saw in the Angel Wings design.  The effect feels a bit more formal, and I love the way the circles and smooth curves of the quilting design set off the crisp, sharp points of Nanette's feathered stars.  Just immaculate!  Once again, I reached for lightweight So Fine thread in color Snow this time, wanting the thread to blend in as much as possible and disguise backtracked/overstitched areas in the quilting design.  In scaling this design for Nanette's quilt, I paid particular attention to the size of the quilted pearls in relation to the size of the tiny half square triangle patchwork "feathers."

Detail of Feathers and Pearls I in So Fine Snow Thread, Cotton Deluxe Loft Batting

This is such a pretty quilt.  I have always admired feathered star quilts but have not yet attempted one.  Nanette prefers the Deluxe Loft cotton batting, the same batting I used for Janita's flying geese sampler quilt at the beginning of today's post.

Nanette's 71 x 71 Star of Chamblie with Feathers and Pearls I

Here's what Nanette's Star of Chamblie quilt top looked like before I quilted it for her.

Nanette's Quilt Top Before Quilting

Janita, Paula, Mildred and Nanette, thank you so much for choosing me to quilt your beautiful quilts for you!  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and happy quilting.  I'll be linking up today's post with the following linky parties:

Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts 


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

 TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: TGIF Friday


Gretchen Weaver said...

I love the overall feathers on all of the quilts! They're all beautiful quilts!

Sandy said...

Absolutely gorgeous! It's so interesting to see the effect of different threads on the various quilts -- such a difference and all so beautiful. :) said...

Beautiful feathers . . .all four ways! You have an eye for just the right design to compliment the piecing in each top! What beautiful finishes!

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

Oh boy, it was Oooooh, then Aaaaaah, and repeat ;) All these quilts are more beautiful than the others, and I love the quilting designs you choose for revealing the personality of each one. Wonderful job!
Thank you for sharing, and linking up!

Ramona said...

All of these quilts are so different and so beautiful! The quilted feather designs fit each quilt to a T!

Sara said...

Wow! Feathers are some of the most beautiful stitching designs in my opinion. Gorgeous stitching on some gorgeous client quilts.

Marie said...

Who doesn't love a good feather quilting pattern. I've used Abundant Feathers on a quilt too and really liked the finish; it looks so good on the quilt that you used it for.

AnnieO said...

Feathers are so beautiful on all these different quilts. Beautiful quilting job adding to the skilled work of the piecing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing these gorgeous designs and the very thoughtful selections for them. I love not only seeing the immaculate work you and the quilters do, but also seeing the reasoning for the batting, thread, and design choices. As a newbie longarmer, your posts are so educational for me. Thank you!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Love this comparison of feathered designs! Such a thoughtful look at quilting decisions. As always, your post was so informative. Thanks for sharing it on my weekly show and tell linkup, Wednesday Wait Loss!

Chopin - A Passionate Quilter said...

You do such beautiful quilting. I love all the other quilts. Thank you for posting my quilt! You spend so much time on our quilts and it is so appreciated! You make all of our hard work look great! Hugs

Unknown said...

Your quilting is a work of art -- adds such a rich dimension to the quilt tops.

Claire said...

Lovely quilts and quilting! I appreciated your discussion of why you chose designs and threads and battings. Filing away the info that applies to domestic machine quilting.

dq said...

Janita's Flying Geese quilt - oh yeah! I love it as well as the quilting you added to it!