Mar 17 09

Fish Quilt Update and Deciphering the Feather Stumpers

I’ve finished most of the quilting on the fish quilt, which is officially named “Making a Splash!”

The center section of this quilt is what mattered to me, and here’s a close-up of the quilting thus far. (The colors are a bit off in this shot because I tried something different with lighting and it didn’t work!) This is what I call an extended asymmetric feather:

I LOVE how that part came out; to me, it looks like the whole thing is just flowing naturally from his mouth! I’ll do a post later about asymmetric feathers because they are very fun to stitch and there are all kinds of possibilities with them, but now I need to answer the questions about the feather stumper question from the last post. Those designs were offshoots from a design I call “Feather Explosion.” Feather Explosion is when you use feathers flowing from feathers as a background fill design. Here’s a picture that’s an example of the original feather explosion design:

This design is created by stitching a feather, then going back and marking nice flowing guidelines for other feathers to flow off that first feather (and then other feathers, as you continue to stitch). It creates this beautiful flowing effect, but when you’re working on a big quilt, sometimes it gets kind of tiresome to mark all those guidelines! So, that’s when I started playing around with ways to “cheat” on the feather explosion design, and the first way to cheat is shown below:

This is the same design, but it takes virtually NO MARKING of anything! You stitch out a curved feather freehand and when you get to the end of it, you just sneak back into that spine guideline and stitch your way backward to a place where you feel it would be good to begin a new feather. Emerge from the spine guideline at that spot and go for it! Here is a picture of a diagram I drew out to explain it. (Sorry, it’s a photo, our scanner is broken here):

I changed my colors every time I began a new feather so you could see that I snuck back into the spine guideline. I started with black, then magenta, then purple, then violet.

Now, here’s the second cheater version of Feather Explosion:

For this one, you again begin by stitching a curvy feather freehand. When you get to the end of the feather, you outline the final plumes until you find a place where you think it would be good to begin a new feather, then you go for it! Here’s a diagram for that design:

They all work beautifully for background fill designs and there is actually not much difference between them design-wise, so it’s just a question of picking the one that’s the most fun to do, and then doing it!


  1. Kathy Says:

    I’ve been anxiously waiting to see the background you were working on for this fish. It’s awesome and I agree that it looks like a song is flowing from his/her soul. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sally Bramald Says:

    I adore those feathers from his mouth. Wonderful!

  3. Anita Heady Says:

    The fish feathers are beautiful, but I really like the curly parts. Thanks for the step-by-step with the fill feathers. I’ve been practicing my machine quilting, but still draw a blank when looking at a new sandwich of fabric. This will help. Thank you!

  4. Elaine Adair Says:

    Whew! Thanks for the feather explosion clarification. I had kinda guessed that’s what was happening.

    Thanks also for all the lessons I’ve learned from you, and for the encouragement to try and be somewhat accomplished in machine quilting on my DSM. While I’m still learning, I think I’ve passed a milestone, and no longer ‘need’ a professional to quilt my projects! 8-))

  5. LuAnn in Oregon Says:

    Patsy you are the best! I have learned so much from all of your DVD’s, and been inspired by your website. You have made all the difference in my machine quilting. My quilts are a joy to quilt using your techniques. You have a wonderful and relaxed teaching style and I learn easily from you. Many thanks for sharing your talents with the quilting community.
    My Best To You,
    LuAnn in Oregon

  6. Juliana Says:

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and regulary “drop in” too see what is new. This last quiet time made me realise how much I have come to enjoy it.
    Your fish is lovely! The colours are wonderful and have inpired me to start fabric and thread dying as well. You have a growing group of fans up here in the far north of Scotland (Caithness quilters and textile group).
    Take care and I hope to hear from you again soon!

  7. Maggi Says:

    The quilting is so beautiful on this. You are so generous in sharing your techniques and your DVDs are awesome.

  8. Mary Engells Says:

    You fish is awesome and I love the quilting design. Looks like he is jumping up out of the way and spray pretty pretty sprays from his mouth!!
    Thanks for the steps also on doing the feathers. This past weekend I started on my first lesson of you 0.5 DVD and have been practicing my stimpling in the evenings. Trying to get the hang of doing those curvacious lines flowing. I’m not doing too bad so far but going to keep working on it.

  9. Mary Engells Says:

    Excuse my post above.
    I should have read it before I posted and corrected my spelling and grammer.