Last year, I showed the Hungry Animal Alphabet panel in a quilt, the ABC Quilt. Showing just a couple of the lettered squares, readers had a great time looking at them. Each one has an animal with food and other items all beginning with the same letter designed by J. Wecker Frisch. This idea is just so stinkin’ cute, why the manufacturer, Quilting Treasures, wouldn’t keep this in stock forever is beyond me. Anyway, after I posted about the panel quilt, I received the companion fabric from a very nice reader, Ila M, so I could make more kid quilts. I have some left, and decided to make a quilt for a kid where I could do some freehand practice.
I wanted to spread the print over a couple of quilts, rather than using it as backing as it is just too cute. So, a complete alphabet was fussy cut, then bordered with blue to add to the size.
Borders were added to the sides as well to frame three fussy cut panels.
This was a great opportunity to do some quilted feathers as I haven’t done them in a very long time.
To begin, mark a stem line all the way around the quilt, deciding where to branch off for the interior sections. I use a heat erasable gel pen for marking, this time in a dark blue. I have a set of colors, like this one – Five Pen Assortment. You can order individual colors too if you’d rather have another color.
The marking is done freehand, with just the stem marked. I do a wavy line making sure the corners curve nicely. Starting in the middle of the left side, I feather up to the corner, around the corner and along the top. I did bump-back feathers this time, two on one side, then two on the other side of the stem. Some quilters call these ‘over the top’ feathers. A bump-back feather is one where the stitching comes up from the stem, curves around the top to touch the feather before it, backtracks over the top, and then makes a second feather bringing the line back down to the stem. I am not really good at this, so I need the practice. You can see where I totally got off the backtrack line on the feather below the hopping foot.
On the inside line nearer the center, the feathers can just continue around the curve for the sashing, placing one at the point where the two feather lines diverge. Then, I backtrack along the stem line to fill in the feathers on the outside.
On the panel part, I just quilted outlines around the animals so the pictures would stay clear for finding the items by letter. See the P block? A pig wearing pajamas has pancakes and a pumpkin and through the window panes there is a pine tree. Fun isn’t it!! Look! I see a hippo in a housedress with a hen eating a hamburger next to a hurricane lamp… oh, OK, I’ll stop playing the game and get back to quilting.
So, both interior sashings and end borders were quilted about halfway down, then backtracking along the stem line to get back to the upper border. I needed to advance the quilt on the longarm at this point.
Continuing, the next thing was to stabilize the other half of the quilt by stitching down the edge.
Then, continuing the feathers in the border beginning on the right side, I quilted feathers down to the bottom right corner.
Turning the corner, I put a small feather, then curve the next one around it. The outside edge has a larger one in the corner to take up the space.
Continue the feathers, now quilting
right to left.
Then the harder part, joining the feather lines coming down the sashings.
I quilted up to the sashing on the inside edge, and past it on the outside edge. When I got to my mark for the joining lines, I tracked down the marked stem line to the point in the sashing where I had stopped before.
Then I began making feathers up to the border. I miscalculated what I would need, and put some really small feathers at the joining point. I wasn’t really happy with this, but I left it in. A child won’t care.
I worked my way around the curve, and once again made a bad feather here, too long and skinny.
But, then I got back in my rhythm, and the next ones were more consistent. I continued doing two on one side, then two on the other as before.
This time, I place a feather closer to the stem line, and will omit the tiny ones. I put two more feathers on the outside of the stem line to get to my marked joining line. Then, I stitched on the marked stem line back down the sashing to the second area to join up.
Sewing more feathers, I approach the border again, this time just making normal size feathers.
I ignore the little bit unquilted, and continue the feathers around the curve.
Then again doing two on one side then two on the other, I work my way around the last corner.
When I began the feather line, I didn’t do full feathers to start, I did a bump-back as if there was a feather there to touch, leaving the end hanging.
Here you can see the feathers approaching the starting point.
I just eyeball the distance. On the left side, one more feather will fill the space. On the right side, I’ll probably need three or four more.
As I make the last one, I make sure to put the edge of the feather on the end of the starting line, so it isn’t obvious where the starting line begins.
I backtrack just a little on the stem line, then tie off and clip the threads.
I went back to the panel areas and finished the quilting between the animals. This took about an hour to do. Freehand goes really fast!
On the back, I used this adorable Mother Goose print, also from Ila.
I want you to know that I show you all my foibles and mistakes for a reason. Now, look at the quilt from a bit of a distance. It is the overall impression that is remembered, not the individual mistakes.
When viewed as a whole, most people will not notice the mistakes. Don’t be afraid to practice, and don’t worry so much about being perfect. Some sections will look great, while others not so much. A child only cares about the quilt, and will probably be too busy looking at the alligator wearing an argyle sweater and an ascot eating apples and asparagus… dang, I am at it again!
Now, to deal with the marking lines. Note that I didn’t worry too much about getting the stitching perfectly on the line.
Pressing with my iron set on cotton, the marks disappear with little effort.
Quilting done, I’ll bind this and give it to a charity.
There are lots of ways to do feathers. I think the one I use most is called a touch and go feather, where the point touches the feather before, then arcs over the the top without backtracking. I’ll show you those on another day.
Amazon has some great books on quilting feathers – HERE – check them out with my affiliate link. Thank you for using my links when you can!
Do you ever do freehand quilting, either on your domestic machine or a longarm?