Jan 18 15

A Pretty New FMQ Border Design

I thought of this border design about 8 months ago and have been intending to stitch it out but everything else kept taking priority. I finally made the time to stitch it out 1 week ago and I love how it came out:
This is basically a series of short straight feathers on a tiny swag stalk.  I think it looks like I traced this from a stencil but I didn’t.  Instead, I made a series of markings that would give me clear boundaries for each “plume unit” and that’s why they appear fairly symmetric.  I started by drawing this onto a piece of scrap paper that would allow me to work on a border of this width:
If you look at the far left side of the drawing, you can see that I also used this to test whether they’d look more symmetric if I stitched them as free-form feathers w/a short straight spine vs stitched them as bump back feathers.  No question about it…they look far more symmetric using the bump back method.  (Google “how to stitch bump back feathers” if you don’t know how.  It will help you to learn as many ways to stitch feathers as you can.)  At the bottom right corner I placed notes about the boundaries I penciled in so I could do this again on another quilt if I liked the look.  These kinds of notes/drawings are worth keeping for the future.  Anyways, what I’m trying to show you is that the easiest way to design a new border design is to work it out on paper first, and this will let you figure out what proportions will work within the confines of the particular border space you are filling.  So, here’s how I marked my border:
It’s not super easy to see, but I drew a light soap line every 2 3/8 inches across the border; this marked the boundary line between each plume unit.  I also marked a soap line 3/8 inch above the bottom edge of the border; this told me how high to stitch my plume “stalks.”  Next, I marked a soap line across the upper part of the border that was 2 1/2 inches above the bottom edge of the border; this was the highest part of the center plume.  (This is an outside border so I needed to keep my stitching out of the area that would ultimately become my binding zone.  Lastly, I drew a tiny mark at the base of the midpoint of each plume “space” as this would assure me of centering each plume unit within its space.  I did the stitching in 2 waves.  In the fist wave, I simply stitched a wave of stalks:
In the second wave, I stitched a second line of stalk and then stitched the center plume and added the remaining plumes.  Once done with a plume unit, I stitched another stalk line to get me to the next area:
Because I had all those boundaries marked, it was very fast to actually stitch out.  I needed to get in the car for a 10 hr drive (which turned into nearly a 12 hr drive because of ending up in an unexpected ice storm), and I wanted this DONE before I left.  Because of that, I kind of wimped out on my 4 cornerstone blocks and just did a simple straight feather in each of those:
…but I’m still ok with how the corners came out.  I did it in 2 waves because my original plan was to hyperquilt the border but I decided this wasn’t the right quit for that.  I’ll probably give that a go the next time I use this border design.  I really like how this wall hanging came out.  It’s one block of the Floral Serenade machine embroidery applique design (you can find that by clicking right here) that just has 2 simple borders surrounding it.  Here are some other shots of it as I was quilting it:
I’m taking my time finishing the binding…I guess I’m not ready to “say good bye” to this quilt!


  1. QuiltShopGal Says:

    Love it. Really looks great.


  2. Peggy Says:


  3. Cala Says:

    Sjoe, dis mooi!! Die foto’s laat dit so maklik lyk! Ek hou BAIE daarvan!!

  4. Karen Miller of Redbird Quilt Co Says:

    Just beautiful Patsy — thank you so much for sharing the process. I shared this with a group of new FMQ’rs on Facebook and they love it!! You’re the best. Karen

  5. Sandy Says:

    Thanks for the tutorial, Patsy! Having the measurements and exactly how you accomplished the design is so helpful. 🙂

  6. Diane Evans Says:

    Gorgeous, Patsy! Gals like me who rely on doing the math to keep things even really appreciate these tips for making a beautiful border. Thanks as always for sharing the techniques you used.


  7. Carol J Schreiber Says:

    I was wondering what size of thread did you use? It looks stunning

  8. Cindy Says:

    Love it! Thanks for telling us how you did it.

  9. Lorie Bugaiski Says:

    Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Cathey S Says:

    I absolutely love your work and your easy style of teaching. Sew on!