Apr 02 09

The Scoop on Asymmetric Feathers and a Give-Away!

Gosh, it has been so long since my last post! I have been in 8 cities in the last 2 1/2 weeks, and I am still unpacking and trying to get caught up with my life. Since I posted the most recent pictures of the “Making a Splash!” fish quilt, I received a number of emails asking me for more info on asymmetric feathers. These look complicated but I have learned that the secret is to break them down in your head into “stages of stitching.” Here’s a shot of the most basic form I know of an asymmetric feather:

On the right side of this feather is a one-sided freeform whimsical feather-that should sound familiar, so we’re still on safe ground here, right?! On the left side are a series of skinny scrolls or skinny curly-cues that are stitched freehand as one travels up that “implied spine” edge. Stay with me here, and we’ll get a bit more complicated with our next asymmetric feather:

Don’t panic yet, because you can do this! On the right side is a one-sided freeform feather and what we’ve done is switched to a high contrast decorative thread (“24-karat gold” rayon thread by Robison Anton) and I’ve stitched those skinny scrolls or curly cues up BOTH sides of the implied spine. What I’ve learned is that when you want to use more than 1 thread in an asymmetric feather, you need to take some special steps to ensure that you don’t accidentally visually bisect your feather into 2 unrelated parts. The way I did that here was to “marry” the 2 sides of my feather by bringing that second thread color back over into the first side…pretty tricky, n’est pas?! The other thing I’ve learned is that when you emerge from between 2 plumes on the original side, you want to make sure the curve of that first skinny curly cue seems like it would be a curve that would flow naturally from that spot. Now, let’s say you want to “marry” the 2 sides of a feather with a second thread color, but you don’t really want to stitch those curly cues on both sides…can you do that? Of course you can! Here’s just one example:

Woo-hoo! That baby is on fire!! I love how that one came out! This feather was created by stitching a one-sided softened heart freeform feather on the right side and then I switched to gold thread and simultaneously stitched skinny curly cues on the left side while I hyperquilted the feather on the right side! Wow, is all I can say about that one! Now, we’re playing around here with freeform feather variations that have no true stitched in spine-does that mean we can’t make an asymmetric feather using a feather with a strue stitched in spine? Nope, of course we can!

This began as a one-sided whimsical feather with a stitched-in spine and then skinny curly cues were stitched up the edge of the spine. The key here is to stitch very carefully as you move up that spine because if your work is messy, it will blow the whole design. Now, could we do this in 2 threads? Of course!

We’ve simply switched thread colors and stitched curly cues (carefully) traveling up both sides of the stitched in spine. Just like before, you could also marry the 2 sides through hyperquilting. Here’s a stage-by-stage photo tutorial, where you begin with some type of one-sided feather w/a stitched-in spine:

In the next phase, you switch colors and stitch curly cues on the left side of the spine:

…and in this last phase, we move up the right side of the spine with a simple inlining embellishment. In this way, we’ve used that second thread color on both sides of the spine and married our feather into one cohesive design:

In all of the designs above, the skinny curly cues were stitched freehand but what do you do if you’ve got a BIG space you want to fill with that part of the design? It’s easy! You get out your flexible curve ruler (this is where the LONG ruler comes in handy!), and you mark off 1-2 REALLY big skinny curves coming off the feather. As you stitch your way backward from the final curves of these, you just start adding all your skinny curly cues freehand, and you’ll end up with some really cool complex scroll designs. That’s how I quilted the asymmetric feather in “Making a Splash!”

All of this feather work will be covered in the 2nd volume of Free Motuion Fun…With Feathers!” We actually ran out of space on that volume so a whole bunch of really cool feather spine material will be in a 3rd volume of feathers!

In a totally unrelated note, I won a copy of “Adventure & Applique,” by Suzanne Marshall.

This is a really nice book, but I already own a copy, so I’ve got a copy to give away! Anyone who posts a comment to this post or sends me an email titled “Applique Book Give Away” between now and 9 am EST on 3/8/09 will be entered into the drawing! Good luck!


  1. Veronica Says:

    Very interesting post,
    and giveaway ;

  2. Anya Says:

    Love all your work and thanks for the chance for the giveaway.

  3. paula Says:

    Watching your dvds and reading your blog has encouraged me to step up my quilting. Thanks for the opportunity to enter the drawing.

  4. Brigitte Says:

    Ooooh, ooooh, ooooh….sign me up for the giveaway. That is one applique book that I don’t have. I just ordered your latest set of DVD’s last night and can’t wait to receive them. I have been on a bit of a sabbatical and am itching to get back to quilting. What a way to get motivated.

  5. Thearica Burroughs Says:

    Patsy…I love give-aways but I love your DVD’s more! I will have to buy the newest ones out! I have used your hyper quilting on a client quilt and it looks smashing!

    I do assymetrical feathers a lot but never thought about adding the curliques as you have shown! Thanks for the eye candy! 🙂

    Please sign me up for your give-away!

  6. Helen Says:

    Breaking down free motion quilting as you do on your DVDs has been an enormous help to me. I have not ventured into feathers yet but I have used a variation of some of your other styles. I like adding my own style. I think I will try these examples. I recently had a quilt in a show and was very pleased to receive positive comments on my quilting. It was a quilt with applique which was a first for me even though I do only art quilts so I would be very interested in being entered into your give-away.

    Keep the posts coming. They really help are a treat.

  7. Fulvia Says:

    Another fine post! Long in coming … 🙂

  8. Denise Says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to win this beautiful book. I love to watch you quilt on YouTube.

  9. Cindy Briggs Says:

    Patsy, I love your asymmetrical feathers, heck, I love all of your feather designs. My quilting skill level has increased to the nth degree since getting your videos and studying them. I love feathers. Did I mention that I love feathers. Thanks for the chance to win the applique book.

  10. Kit Says:

    How generous of you to share your technique with us! I just found you two days ago through the art quilters webring and immediately added you to my “blogs I’m following”.

    I can tell I’m going to learn a lot from you and your beautiful quilts!

  11. Anna in Sweden Says:

    I really enjoy your blog and your wonderful quilting, and I’d love to win the book! I cross my fingers!

  12. Eileen Metcalf Says:

    Ooooooooh! I just love your feathers and have learned so much from you. Your DVDs are inspirational.

  13. Susie Says:

    I love reading your website. A quilter buddy of mine has all of your DVD’s and she let me borrow one. WOW. You make everything look so easy.
    Thanks for the chance to win the book.

  14. Robin Says:

    Hi Patsy, I’ve just finished watching Fast and Free 0.5. It’s fantastic! I have so little confidence with machine quilting that my projects just sit, as if some magic quilting fairy will come in and do it for me during the night. If only!

    If you need any suggestions for future videos, mine would be to watch over your shoulder as you actually sew on a quilt. You know, one of those things with seams? And maybe some tips about sewing close to the raw edge. I would like my all-over designs to extend under the binding.

    Robin in Short Pump

  15. Anne Says:

    That book looks fabulous. It would help take my mind off of starting to quilt a queen sized quilt that I made for my daughter!

  16. joyce Says:

    I love your free form feathers. I would also love to be entered in the giveaway if I’m not too late. Thanks.

  17. tirane93 Says:

    your tutorials are always so helpful and inspiring. thanks for sharing them with us all!

  18. Elaine Adair Says:

    “Applique Book Give Away”! 😎 I could use another book! 😎

    Wow, you are giving us all some great samples! I’m keeping this post “New” for a LONG time for my daily-needed inspiration.

  19. Heather Says:

    I always enjoy your posts, love to look at your feathers, they are always so perfect!!!

  20. Sally Bramald Says:

    As always simply stunning feather work!

  21. Shelley C Says:

    What lovely feather work you’ve done! I am so inexperienced at free motion that I havne’t gotten very far and I know that practice is what I need. THis post does encourage even the most bashful of us to at least try. THanks for these great tips! Enter me for that book…applique is another feature I’ve done very little of but I want to in the worst way! I keep wanting to prep myself something to work on in the summers…maybe this year?

  22. Terri Says:

    Thanks for sharing your lovely quilting with us and for the very detailed instructions on how to do it. It’s just beautiful work!

  23. Dot Says:

    Thanks for sharing all the great information. I will try one of these feathers on my next charity quilt. I would love to be put in the drawing or the book. I haven’t done much applique but am soo ready to try.

  24. Maggi Says:

    I’m only just starting on your first DVD about feathers but these have inspired me to work harder.

  25. Suzanne Burke Says:

    Hi Patsy,
    Great post! You are setting me
    on fire!!! You’re amazing…
    Suzanne in Sunset Beach

  26. Kathy W. Says:


    Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful feathers. I keep watching your DVD’s over and over but still could use lots of practice. Please enter me in your drawing…Kathy

  27. Stacey Says:

    Thanks again for the great tutorial. You are so generous with your skills and expertise! I missed you while you were on your trip. Can’t wait to hear about what you did! Oh, and would love to win the book!

  28. Anita Heady Says:

    Great feathers, Patsy. Will you have these in your downloadable patterns? I’ve been following the curly lines to see the order of sewing. Also, please sign me up for your book giveaway.

  29. Patsy Thompson Says:

    Yes, the line drawings for asymmetric feathers will be posted on the website and available for free when the next DVD debuts, but these drawings will be password protected, and the password to access them will be on the next DVD.

  30. Terri Geroux Says:

    Love the asymmetric feathers and can’t wait for your new DVD! Love Suzanne Marshall’s applique books and this is one I don’t have, so please enter me in the drawing, too!

  31. Alice (aka BCQuilter) Says:

    Hi Patsy,

    Glad to see you back! Wow, the quilting on your fish really has blossomed.

    The more I see your work, and this post has a really great photo tutorial, the more the fear lessens, and I’m almost ready to try.

    Our quilt show is finished, so I am getting ready to “play” with my quilting a bit more.

    Thank you, again for a very informative post!


  32. Jean Says:

    The asymmetrical feathers look fantastic, but I’d like to know if you are going to quilt any more in the background of the fish. Does it seem to be enough quilting with the feathers or will you add more? Or if you do, will it just be in the background areas away from the feathers? I’d love to see a photo of the fish quilt when it is compeletly finished! I’ve recently been wrestling with this type of dilemma and I must admit, I’ve been anxious to see how you handled the rest of the background.

  33. Mandy Meierotto Says:

    I’m still learning the regular feathers from your Vol 1 DVD. I love your teaching style and plan to own more of your teaching DVD’s as soon as I master this one, so please keep making them.


  34. Yvonne Says:

    I know I’m too late for the give away, my fault for not popping in more regularly! I love those feathers! I’m hoping DH has bought me another of your DVDs for Easter so I can practice feathers.

    I’m blown away by the hyperquilting on the feathers and can’t wait to try it out soon.

  35. Sue P Says:

    LOVE these asymmetrical feathers! I had to e-mail the link to friends before I even finished reading the post. Can’t wait for the DVD — no, literally, I want it NOW! 🙂

  36. Lana Frazier Says:

    Love, love, love these asymmetrical feathers. How wonderfully graceful and creative. I dream of the day I can do this.