Learn how to embroider the feather stitch with this simple tutorial. Feather stitch (or featherstitch) just curls across the fabric and lightly gives your design a soft feathery texture. ‘As light as a feather’ is a great description to add to this delicate and soft stitch. Feather stitch is a form of chain stitch and is a simple, basic embroidery stitch. Useful for branches, twigs, vines, and underwater seaweed or coral, it can twist and turn gently into a picturesque work of art. You will also find feather stitch on the seams of some quilts as a decorative stitch.
Feather Stitch Tutorial for Embroidery
What Does Feather Stitch Look Like?
Feather stitch looks like a row of connected v-shapes. It can be straight or curved and flowing. It is stitched along 4 lines giving it a wide and open appearance.
What is Feather Stitch Used For?
Feather stitch is commonly used for embroidery leaves, stems, branches, and coral where a flowing graceful look is desired. It can also be used for beautiful borders and edges on a quilt. Use it for crazy quilting! Feather stitch can grace your design freely or you can be pedantic about symmetry and draw four lines to work within ensuring each stitch is exactly in the right place and has the right spacing. Use French knots on the ends of the feather stitch to look like the buds of small flowers.
How to Draw Lines for Feather Stitch
If you choose to draw four evenly spaced lines to work with then the gaps between the lines will determine the size and length of the stitch. I always recommend using lines when learning this stitch. Switch to a more free-flowing version after you have practiced a few times.
Straight Feather Stitch Vs Curved Feather Stitch
For straight feather stitch, draw 4 horizontal lines to follow. If you wish for a curved appearance you can draw 4 parallel curved lines. Feather stitch is best suited to gentle curves as it can be hard to stitch tight curves.
The great thing about embroidery is that you need very few tools. It is easiest to sew feather stitch in an embroidery hoop to hold the fabric tight and prevent puckering. Learn all about embroidery tools.
THREADS – Use embroidery strands of floss. This thread or embroidery floss comes with 6 intertwined strands.
How many strands of floss do you need for feather stitch: You can use all 6 strands for a thicker look or pull it apart to use fewer for a finer design. I usually use the 6 strands as I like a chunky look. The number of strands is up to you.
EMBROIDERY NEEDLE – Embroidery or crewel needles have a longer eye that makes it easier to thread. If you have any problems threading the thick threads through the needle, try a needle threader and make sure the end is cut sharply.
FABRIC – While you can use any fabric, it is the easiest to use fabrics with an open weave like linen, cotton or Aida fabric. I used an unbleached calico for my samples but also favor linen fabric.
MARKING – Tailor’s chalk, water soluble pen or pencil, or removable fabric marking pens are best. Just test first to make sure the markings can be removed easily after you finish the feather stitch.
If you are new to embroidery, read my in-depth article on how to embroider to get you started.
How to Do Feather Stitch Embroidery Step by Step
Step 1- Starting the Feather Stitch Pattern
Feather stitch looks complicated until you realize it is just a series of offset v shapes.
Draw 4 lines and the v shapes as below. Once you have practiced the stitch a few times and have the angle correct, you won’t need the guidelines and can switch to a more free-flowing version.
Thread your needle single and knot the end.
Bring your needle up from the back of your fabric to the left bottom of your first marked row at (1).
Note: we will be working this stitch left to right
Step 2 – Form the First Triangle
The first line is the starting point and your thread loops across to the third line for the second point of the stitch at (2).
See how (2) is directly in line above (1).
Exit the needle at (3) which is on the second line and equal distances forwards from (1) and (2).
Loop the thread under the tip of the needle at (3).
Here is how it looks when the first stitch is pulled tight.
Step 3 – Add More Feather Stitch Patterns
Continue to follow your design adding feathering on each side.
The next loop of the stitch goes across to line four as you complete the second triangle.
Insert the needle at (4), exit at (5) making sure the thread is under the tip of the needle.
Notice how (4) is directly about point (3).
Step 4 – Start Again
Go back to line one to create another triangle the same as the first.
Here is a row of feather stitch. Now you have the hang of it, try again without the lines.
Using Feather Stitch as Stems
If you use feather stitch as stems, you will need some flowers to go with them! You can create a whole garden scene.
See my tutorials on:
Feather Stitch FAQs
What Stitch is similar to Feather Stitch?
If you are looking for a simpler stitch than feather stitch, then try the fly stitch. This stitch is embroidered along 3 lines and is much simpler and quicker for stems and borders.
What is a Feather Stitch on a Sewing Machine
If you don’t feel like hand stitching your feather stitch, look at the decorative stitches on your machine. Many sewing machines have a feather stitch or something very similar.
Tips for Sewing Feather Stitch
The most important tip when sewing this stitch is not to pull too tightly with the thread. Pulling will result in puckering of the fabric and your feather stitch won’t lie flat.
Embroidery Feather Stitch – In Conclusion
Variations of feather stitch can come naturally as you change the length, size and symmetry of the triangles. You can choose to only feather one side of the line or you can freehand this stitch very easily.
Feel as free as a bird and get creative with feather stitch!
More Embroidery Articles
- Blanket Stitch
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Chevron Stitch
- Couching Embroidery Tutorial
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- Embroidery Basics
- Fagoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Hand Embroidery Stitches
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Steam Stitch
- Straight Stitch
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch
- Bullion Knots
- Whipped Backstitch