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How do you make feathers puff up?

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I have seen some quilts lately that have these amazing

feathers. And the feathers seem so lofty. They all have some

dense background fill (usually micro stipple) surrounding

the feathers. So my question is this...

What is the sequence for creating these beauties?

Do you quilt the feather first and then the background?

Because it would seem that once you quilt the feather, it

can't get puffier; freshman science tells me that. :D

Is the reason it looks so puffy is because the

surrounding quilt is flattened by the dense quilting?

And other than mind-numbing micro stipple, what

backgrounds are your favorites??

I've heard that once you commit to background quilting in

one part of the quilt, you have to carry on with it. Is this so?

Have you ever done a motif, background quilted around it,

say 2 inches and then switched to a more open background

that is less dense?? Or would that just be ugly?

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Guest Linda S

Linda - there are a couple of ways to get your feathers to be puffy. 1) do cut-away trapunto. Sew your top to a piece of 16 oz. airtex batting with some water soluble thread, outlining the parts you want to be puffy. Cut away the fluffy batting from places you don't want to be puffy. Put the top on a backing and thin batting, and quilt it, once again outlining what you want to be puffy, and doing fill work on the parts you don't want to be puffy. 2) do faux-trapunto. Put your backing (lining) on the machine, then a layer of rather flat batting (warm and white/natural, or QD select) then a layer of fluffier batting (I like to use Hobbs Wool). Then put your quilt top on. Do your feathers and then fill in the background around them with a rather dense fill. Your feathers will really pop. That is what I did here:


You can use any sort of background filler you want -- McTavishing, stippling, microstippling, tiny feathers, swirls, etc., but I would recommend keeping the fill a consistent size.


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Thank you, Linda. It was actually your quilt (reds/burgundy)

that I had just seen on LA chat. So that's how you did it.

I noticed that the quilt above seems to have different

background (McT, stipple and switls) in the different blocks.

So, it is OK to change the background when you move onto

a block. Your quilt looks great. So from my perspective,

it all looks good.

I really want to try this technique. I did a first-try trapunto

on a harvest quilt I made. I liked the puffiness of the

pumpkins I outlined but the process was scary and very

disorganized. I asked a local quilt teacher to explain the

technique to me....she might as well have been speaking

Greek. I got so lost in the complexity of it, I just sat there

and thought "Why did I ask this question?"

You made it sound much simpler. And I appreciate you giving

me the brands of batting to use.

I'm also noticing that most the the ones I like seem to have

either a light or solid backing. You probably lose the

quilting in the printed fabric.

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I cheat, I use two layers of batting at once. I use one layer of something like Hobbs 80/20 and one layer of Hobbs polydown for the top layer. No cutting away, it's fake trapunto.

The 80/20 gives you a nice weight and the polydown makes the feathers puff. I like using the peacock eye meander lately to go around feathers. It's more fun.

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Guest Linda S

Faux trapunto is explained in my post under #2 above.

As far as different background fillers, if you can make them work, you can use more than one. Actually the example above is a sampler I made to show area quilters the different kinds of fillers I can do. so that is why there are several.


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Linda in R - Love reading your posts - your are funny! And yet you can get

things said and explained for us to - in a way that makes sense.

Linda S - Your feathers are great! Awesome sampler - and they do look

good next to each other - different meandering - nice to see on something

before one decides what to do.

I think Bekah is asking about the peacock eye meander that JoAnn

mentioned. Bekah - if you go to any webshots page - do a search at the

top - just type in "peacock meander" and a bunch of pages / photos will

be pulled up. Just image the very pretty end of a peacock feather, where

it looks like an eye, thats what you try to stitch. It is a great one to do -

quick, fast, fun and forgiving! We can all use that!:D

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