Quilting with Rulers: Feather Template

I've had several requests from students in my Craftsy classes asking about using templates to make feathers. I kept meaning to do a post and a video on the subject and finally got it done.

feather template for ruler work

It's hard to give a good unbiased review of using this template or others like it as I prefer to make my feathers free hand. I definitely think that a quilter should continue to work on learning to stitch feathers without a template, but the template could be a good tool to help make them in the meantime.

I only have one size of feather template though Westalee makes them in at least 4 sizes. Having multiple sizes could help give the needed range of sizes and shapes needed for quilting feathers with templates, though spendy. A single size can be manipulated to create some variation in the size and shape.

Using a straight spine can make it much easier to place the template evenly. I used a curved spine and that made it much more difficult to place the template and make the plumes meet the spine in an elegant way.

I think I'm on the fence about this template. As I stated in the video, if I couldn't make feathers free hand, I might love it. I do like the Feather Wreath template I sell from TopAnchor as it makes a perfectly spaced and shaped round feather wreath and has an anchoring system that I prefer over that of similar rotating templates from the maker of this feather template, but it's only suitable for high shank machines and long arms of all types.

I used the Janome foot with this template and based on some comments I've gotten recently on a few of my videos, some may give me flak for this. The Janome foot works just fine with these templates. I think there are some 'marketing' factors playing into some of those comments....to put it kindly without mentioning details. (To put it bluntly....don't come into "my house" to bash my efforts in order to promote your own classes, products, or those of someone else even if you're a very happy customer....use your own platform, blog, site.)

(In case it sounds odd that I put this little disclaimer above, I did get exactly the type of comment I was warning against, but they left it on a previous post.)

I don't have this template listed in my shop, though I do have maybe 2 of them in the 4.5mm thickness that I can sell as a custom order if somebody wants these and can order more. This is definitely a shape that those using low shank machines need to get in the 3mm thickness.

I hope this video helps those who have been wondering about this template. Let me know in the comments if you've tried it or want to try it. Got quilting friends that would like this? Feel free to share, pin, etc. giving credit where credit is due.

Keep on quilting.


  1. I think I am goign to practise feather without template. Thanks for the video!

  2. I was at our big quilt show in the UK and I did look at the feather templates but decided against - I didn't like the uniformity of the shaping. Fmc is much more frondy and more pleasing to the eye (for me anyway). As for me - I've only ever done one quilt fmc - being stubborn I wanted feathers - watched so many videos by yourself and Patsy Thompson. And finally after unpicking so many times I gave up (while I still had fabric underneath to sew on!) and thought well, that's my quilt so I can see how I improve. I'm still not great but so much better than when I started. Perhaps the templates will help with getting the feel of the curving at first?

  3. Something are better off just freehand, feathers are one of those designs. Thanks for taking the time and effort to work this out.

  4. My first feathers, several years ago, looked like chili peppers! LOL! I have to agree with you that making them freehand (I'm much better at it now!) is wonderful -- you can make them go anywhere you like and fit any shape you happen to have. But templates could be good for someone who hasn't yet become comfortable with freehand feathers. :)

  5. I have the Westalee feather rulers and they work pretty well but do require some practice. I think you are right, free motion feathers should be a goal for anyone wanting to quilt many feathers. But they are a good starting point for a beginner.

  6. To me, this just takes templates too far. It is making it a crutch rather than a tool. Feathers are a beautiful and natural component of quilting, which need to ebb and flow, and that can only happen if the quilter can learn to quilt them freehanded. JMHO.

  7. Hey Amy - the top anchor rotating feather template you mentioned - would it work with a sit down long arm like the innova?

    1. Pat, it certainly would. In fact the creator is an Innova owner and has demo'ed her templates with Innova at a few shows for both sit down and frame mounted. That's whose booth I was in when we met at AQS Lancaster a couple of years ago. (You are that Pat. right?)

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