[ Free Motion Quilting Designs ]

Free Motion Monday #1 – Feathers and Loops

As part of a series about free motion quilting, I’d like to share the designs I selected for my True Blue Quilts banner. Two classic designs are feathers and loops. Read on for tips for free motion quilting feathers and loops.image

Words on Quilts

First, let’s look at the center title. I made my own stencil for the lettering in the center with a simple computer printout.  I chose my favorite font, sized it to fit in the space and printed it on regular white paper.  Then, I taped the paper to my quilt top and stitched the outline of the letters. The paper easily tore away when I was done stitching.  As a final touch, I colored in the letters with archival quality markers.


In the background I used feathers and a loopy meander as filler designs. Both are common designs in free motion quilting that become like handwriting – unique to the individual.


Free Motion Feathers

Feathers are built around the shape of a question mark, or you can think of a comma. I start by stitching the spine with a loop at the top.  I work my way back down the left side adding loops that curve in towards the spine. A tip that helped me master the shape was to approach the spine like a freeway on-ramp, not an intersection.  Think parallel not perpendicular.

how to quilt feathers

At the base of the feather, you have two options for stitching the other side. A) you can stitch back up the spine and create the loops from the top, or B) stitch the loops from bottom to top.

free motion feathers


I generally work from bottom to top on the second side, stitching the underside of the loop first. Practice makes perfect! Don’t be too harsh on your first attempts…they will get better over time. This is a great skill to practice by doodling whenever you have blank paper nearby.

Related Post: see more feathers in the Jewel Box quilt.

For longarm quilters, I recommend buying a pantograph with a feather design.  By guiding the machine along the pattern, you will build muscle memory and you can eventually stitch a similar design free-hand.

Free Motion Meandering Loops

I filled in the center area with loopy meander. A meander is a line of stitching that wanders any which way around the quilt. Generally you do not see lines cross in a meandering design, but with loops we break that rule.


The design is stitched with small circles above and below the primary line of stitching. Travel anywhere you like around your design.

free motion meandering loops


Feathers and loops can be independent free motion quilting designs or they can work together to create beautiful texture for any quilt.

Check out Leah Day and Lori Kennedy for more free motion quilting inspiration!

The Free Motion Monday series explores various designs that can be stitched on any quilt, using a longarm or domestic machine. Join me as we Enjoy, Experiment and Excel!

Happy quilting,


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Longarm Quilter, Pattern Designer, Teacher



  1. Thanks Andi, My feathers are only just coming together…any help is great. I am practicing on orphan squares to iron out the bumps in my feathers.

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