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.
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
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!
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What you will need to sew the feather stitch in embroidery and cross stitch:
- embroidery hoop
- embroidery floss
- embroidery needle
instructions for how to do the feather stitch
If using two strands of floss, consider using the Loop Method for Anchoring Floss to begin your floss neatly.
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.
Pull the embroidery floss taut. The following stitches will be made going downward.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Making sure the needle is inside the loop, pull the embroidery floss taut, and the second stitch has now been sewn.
Continue making stitches to the right and left alternately.
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.
Remember to alternate the stitches left and right.
Continue this until the vine is the preferred length.
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.
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 Embroidery Stitch tutorials
For even more stitches, go to our hand embroidery stitches tutorial page.