Monday, August 3, 2015

Selvage Along: Feather Tutorial

Today's tutorial was inspired by this pin I found--someone using selvages for an Anna Maria Horner Feather Bed pattern!  I've used the feather pattern for many mini quilts, but I've always given them away.  This time I chose colors and layout for the wall space above the window in my sewing room.

Selvage feather using the AMH Feather Bed pattern

Before I get to my tutorial, let me first say I'm basically repeating Meredith from Olivia Jane's method, with some changes and instructions for working with selvages.  If you are just going to use regular fabric, go check out her tutorial!  Also, you will need to go get the AMH Feather Bed pattern, and will need her instructions for putting together the blocks.

Instructions: For best results, read through ALL instructions before starting!

First cut 16-24 pieces of selvages to 12" long--this length will give you 4 feathers.  The number of selvages you will end up needing depends on how wide you trim your selvages.  I almost always cut mine 1" past the white part of the selvages and used 10 strips for one side and only 8 strips for the other side.

12" selvages

Next, press your selvages flat, I recommend using some spray starch too.

Selvages ready to sew!

Here's my pile of selvages I chose for these feathers, and the A piece from the AMH Feather Bed pattern:

Selvages and pattern piece.

Pick two pieces to start with, and stagger them about an inch, using the pattern piece as a guide, being sure to line up the bottom of the pattern with the bottom of the selvage:

Line up bottom of pattern piece A with bottom of the selvage, then place second selvage so the bottom of it is about 1/4" away from the pattern piece.  

Overlap the upper selvage 1/4" over the bottom selvage, then pin in place and sew at the edge of the top selvage:

Sew near the edge of the selvage, with a 1/4" overlap.

Now get another selvage and layer it on top of the previous one, again using the pattern as a guide on how far over to stagger this piece:

The red circle is showing how I place the top selvage with 1/4" overlap while figuring out where to stagger it.

Then pin and sew:

Sewing the selvages together.

 Here's what the back looks like, you can see the 1/4" seam allowance that is created on the raw edges of the fabric:

Back of my selvage panel.

After sewing together several selvages I started to notice some warping and curving, so I started pressing and starching after each new piece was added:

Warping and waves need to be pressed out before they cause problems!

Also the selvages have a tendency to curve, so I also recommend putting a straight ruler on the raw fabric edge to check, placing the ruler from corner to corner and trimming off anything above the ruler:

There is at least a 1/8" curve in the selvage.  Left untrimmed it will cause the next selvage to warp and curve more, and the problem just keeps getting worse.

Continue adding selvages using the pattern as a guide, and pressing, starching and trimming after each addition:

Staggered selvage panel ready to trim!

Using the pattern piece and a long ruler over it for a hard, straight edge, cut one pattern piece as shown in the above picture, then flip it around and cut one like in the picture below:

Second feather orientation.

Continue flipping it top to bottom until you run out of fabric.  If there is one or two selvages too short to cut out the last feather, you can rip out the short pieces and add in a longer piece:

Last feather needed some surgery on the far left--I ripped out the piece that was too short and then using the pattern as a guide added a longer one.

You should now have 4 feather halves:

These are the right sides of the selvage feathers.

To make the LEFT side of the feathers, flip your pattern over (I will call this side B), and using the method above, create a staggered selvage panel:

Side B of the pattern to create the left side of the selvage feathers.

Finished selvage panel, ready to cut out the pattern pieces!

Again, be sure to rotate the pattern piece top to bottom to get 4 pieces from the panel:

Second feather cut upside down.

I originally cut my selvages to only 11", so I needed to do surgery on this side as well to get the fourth feather out of the panel (cutting them to 12" should prevent this!):

I replaced the center selvages so they would be long enough to cut one more Side B from this selvage panel.

Here are the left sides of my feathers:

Left sides of my selvage feathers!

I'm now ready to sew together some feathers!

Left and right sides of my selvage feathers.

For the stem of the feather, trim a selvage to 18" x 1"--only the center 1/2" will show for this one!  You now use the Patchwork Instructions from the AMH Bed Feather pattern to put your feathers together.

Selvage feather pieces.

Selvage feather sewn together.

The only place I do something different than AMH's instructions is to press the stem seam allowances in towards the stem.  There are so many seams on the feather sides, the allowance for the stem naturally wants to go towards the stem.  I'd rather the bulk be in the stem, it makes the quilting easier later.

Press stem seam allowances towards the stem.

Here is my finished Selvage Feather block!

Selvage Feather block.

This tutorial is part of the Selvage Along, I will be sharing my finished mini quilt for the last link up.  Next Monday you can link up the projects you've been working on!

Selvage Along Schedule
July 20 - Intro post
July 24 - Selvage storage/collection linkup 
July 27 - Selvage Strip Pillow Tutorial by Jess @ Quilty Habit 

August 3 - AMH Selvage Feathers Tutorial by Renee @ Quilts of a Feather
<<<You are here!
August 10 -  Selvage Zippy Pouch Tutorial by Chris @ Made by ChrissieD + mid-way/check-in linky on both blogs
August 17 - Selvage Binding Tutorial by Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl
August 24 - Project by Vera @ Negligent Style
August 31 - Project by Jess @ Elven Garden Quilts
Sept. 7 - Selvage Churn Dash Project Share by Helga @ Cluckin' Pineapple 
Sept. 14 - Tutorial round up on both blogs
Sept. 21 - Last linky party- link up all your selvage projects!


  1. Great point about pressing the seams inward. I need to do that next time. Thanks for an awesome and thorough tutorial!

  2. I really like how the selvages you kept naturally are different widths which makes some of the decision process for making these feathers easier. Using a selvage for the stem works great, and while I am a press seam open kind of person most of the time, I totally agree that in this case pressing to the stem makes so much more sense. I am excited to see how your mini finishes out!

  3. I've been saving selvedges for some time and now I've found the perfect way to use them. Thanks!

  4. That is really pretty! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I have never saved my selvages. . . You might have me changing my mind about that! Why do you cut at least an inch from the selvage? Is it because you know you will be using them for awesome projects like this or something else?

    I have this pattern, I have been too scared to try it LOL I can totally see where ironing the seams into the stem would be preferable.

  6. Very beautiful block, I will try it.

  7. Oooh... never thought of this though selvages work so perfectly! I've pinned it for future reference. Thanks for the inspiration and for the tutorial!

  8. Oooooooheeeee, I love this! I have so many selvages sitting here, ones from favorite fabrics, and this is a great way to use them! I'm thinking black yarn dyed Essex for the background. Thanks for sharing your technique!

  9. Lovely. I have to try this soon.

  10. Love it Renee, I've seen the feather before but done with the selvedges just makes it even better. I've given you and the Selvage Along another shout out here on my facebook page- Chris :D

  11. I love the use of the salvages for this project. Thanks for a great tutorial.

  12. Thanks for sharing a tutorial! I'm nowhere close to having enough selvage strips to do this but I'm getting there.....

  13. Really nice block and works so well with selvages. I think I will save my selvages from now on ! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Very pretty! I've been meaning to try this feather pattern, I like it with the selvages!

  15. The one project I've used Selvedges for was in my Bees of a Feather quilt based on this pattern! Great minds think alike :)

  16. Great idea! I also have this pattern and have been meaning to use it for something AND have a hoard of selvedges - sounds like a match made in heaven. :)

  17. Such a great idea to use selvedges for this lovely feather!

  18. I would naturally press towards the stem too. It seems like the most sensible way to do it!

  19. I have made a big Feather Bed quilt, but never considered making the blocks from selvages--what a perfect idea!

  20. One of my favourite patterns, and with selvedges... perfect!
    Looks fanatastic :)

  21. Wow, it's GREAT of you to share this tutorial feather pattern! Best idea EVER for use of selvadges! THANK YOU SO MUCH!