I have received several comments on my feather sampler quilt and want to thank each of you for being so kind. Feathers weren't easy for me to learn, but once I did they have become my favorite quilting pattern.
The first feathers I learned were what I call "longarm feathers". This is where you quilt in the spine of the feather and then quilt the feathers one on top of the other backtracking along the long edge of the feather. I could never get those feathers to look nice and neat and consistant. So I turned to stencils and transferred the pattern onto the quilt top with an air soluble or water soluble pen, or chalk pencil or pounce pad. They were much better, but it was difficult to find stencils to fit the spaces where I wanted to quilt feathers. So I kept practicing.
Then I took a class from Karen McTavish at MQS back in 2003. Her method of backtracking over the tops of the feathers instead of the long side of the feathers made a huge difference in the way my feathers looked. They were much more traditional looking - "victorian feathers", more consistant and prettier than the "longarm feathers".
The problem remained of fitting feathers into spaces that stencils weren't made for. I just needed to learn to do the traditional "victorian feathers" freehand. I had already designed a group of "Filigree" quilting patterns that I used in my quilts as well as customer quilts and played around with them and turned some of them into "Filigree Feathers" patterns, using the "filigree" as the spine for the feather. This was after purchasing Ricky Tims DVD "Grand Finale". He has a section in that DVD that shows you how to draw feathers.
I also purchased "Fancy Formal Feathers" by Sherry Rogers-Harrison, "Infinite Feathers Quilting Designs" by Anita Shackelford, and "Quilting for Show" by Karen McTavish. I also view the videos put out by Sharon Schamber on her feathers.
Practice, Practice, Practice is the key to quilting feathers for me. Studying how other quilters make their feathers is also an invaluable learning tool. I am very thankful that so many quilters are willing to share their talent with the quilting world.