How to Make a Feather Stitch for Cross Stitch or Embroidery

Learn how to stitch the feather stitch for embroidery or cross stitch projects.

This is a hand-embroidery decorative stitch which creates a vine or branch looking line. The looped stitch is worked evenly with stitches alternating to the right and the left.

Cross Stitch and Embroidery Tutorial Series - Feather Stitch Tutorial fb ad

The feather stitch is one of the most basic and popular embroidery stitches. There are other variations of the feather stitch, such as the double feather stitch, closed feather stitch, and long-armed feather stitch.

What stitch is similar to the feather stitch?

"Featherstitch" or feather stitch is very similar to the Cretan stitch or faggoting stitch.  They are all embroidery stitches made with open loops.  These stitches alternate to the left and the right of the central stitching.

There are other looped embroidery stitches as well:

  • Open Cretan stitch
  • Closed Cretan stitch
  • Fishbone stitch
  • Loop stitch
  • Scroll stitch
  • Fly stitch
What is the feather stitch used for?

This basic stitch is often seen in crazy quilts, which are very creative and abstract quilts. Crazy quilts use many other decorative stitches such as this. 

The feather stitch is also used in hand applique.  Applique is the art of sewing fabric on top of other fabric.  A decorative stitch such as the blanket stitch or feather stitch is often used for this technique. 

To learn more, there is a page devoted to the applique technique on our site.

Another place that this stitch can be used is as a border on edges and hems of projects.  This truly is a decorative stitch that can be applied in many areas where embroidery is used.

For this tutorial, the feather stitch is worked on Aida fabric since this fabric makes it easier to show how to make the basic feather stitch.

If you are learning the feather stitch for the first time, using this fabric is an easy way to count fabric threads and know where to place the stitches.

If working with other fabrics, it may be helpful to draw three lines with tailor's chalk or lightly with a pencil.

The video below is a tutorial showing how to sew the feather stitch for both embroidery and cross stitch projects. 

If you are interested in hand embroidery, check out the many other stitches on our hand embroidery tutorial page.

We hope you enjoy the video and find the written directions after the video to be very helpful in making the feather stitch!

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link How to Make a Feather Stitch for Cross Stitch or Embroidery to watch in Youtube.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.

What you will need to sew the feather stitch in embroidery and cross stitch:

  • fabric
  • embroidery hoop
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needle

instructions for how to do the feather stitch

Step 1: Bring the needle up from the back

The feather stitch is worked from the top to the bottom and as if there are three imaginary vertical lines on the fabric: left, middle and right.

First, bring the needle and floss up from the back of the fabric at the top where the stitched vine is going to begin.  This will be on the middle imaginary vertical line of the stitch.

Feather Stitch

Pull the embroidery floss taut. The following stitches will be made going downward. 

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.1

Step 2: make the first loop

Insert the needle down to the right two holes directly across from where the needle originally came up. This will be on the imaginary line on the right.

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.2

Gently pull the needle and embroidery floss to the back, leaving a small loop in front. Do not pull the floss through tautly. Hold the loop with the thumb of the left hand.

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.3

Bring the needle and floss up from the back on the center line, three stitches down from where the stitching first began.  This is on the imaginary middle vertical line.

Make sure the needle is inside the loop. Gently pull the floss taut to make a U shape stitch.

Step 3: Form the next branch

Count two holes to the left of where the needle was just brought up.  Insert the needle into the hole from the front of the fabric to the back. This will be on the imaginary left vertical line.

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.4

Do not pull the fabric taut.  Be sure to keep it loose to make a loop as was done with the first stitch.

Bring the embroidery needle and floss up from the back of the fabric three holes below the center of the stitch above. This is on the imaginary middle line.

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.6

Making sure the needle is inside the loop, pull the embroidery floss taut, and the second stitch has now been sewn.

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.7

Continue making stitches to the right and left alternately. 

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.8

Always push the needle down from the top of the fabric two spaces over from the center and pull it up three spaces down from the center. 

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.9

Remember to alternate the stitches left and right.

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.10

Continue this until the vine is the preferred length.

Feather Stitch Tutorial 1.1.11 We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to make the feather embroidery stitch. 

You may want to check out our Needlework Stitch and Topic Pinterest Board which has links to stitch tutorials, conversion charts, color charts and pattern generators.

Happy Stitching!


If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.

more stitches

Blanket StitchBlanket Stitch Tutorial

Algerian Eye Stitch

Basket Weave Stitch

Cable Embroidery Stitch

Herringbone Stitch

Feather Stitch Woven Circle Stitch

For even more stitches, go to our hand embroidery stitches tutorial page.

Cross Stitch and Embroidery - Feather Stitch - Pin

Profile Photo

Annette & Chris are a mother/daughter team. We've brought you craft projects and tutorials through this web site for over 20 years.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Personal Projects

YouTube Video Topics

Annie OnlineClasses 300x250 Accucut - 250x250

Looking for something you cannot find on our site? Click here to e-mail the Needlepointers Information department.

Copyright ©2003 - 2019 All Rights Reserved. | Powered by w3.css

Secured by RapidSSL