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Create a Custom Feather Fringe

Try using different types of feathers to achieve the perfect look for your garment.
Machine sew across the base of the feathers twice.
Tear away the tissue paper.

Try using different types of feathers to achieve the perfect look for your garment.

Try using different types of feathers to achieve the perfect look for your garment.

Photo: Sloan Howard

Excerpted from "Faniciful Feathers"
Threads Issue 141, p.23
by Susan Crane

Feathers are soft, light, flexible, and fluffy. When they are attached to thread, they drape beautifully, make curves easily, and add a bit of style to any plain-Jane garment. This method of adding feathers works very well on lightweight garments that cannot support the tape edging found on most store-bought, feather trims. You can make your trim using any feathers you like and in any color scheme. For a more classic look, try large, fluffy feathers or smaller feathers that match the hue of your garment.

First, to determine the amount of trim you need to make, you have to measure the garment. Cut a strip of tissue paper that is at least 1 inch wide and the desired length of the trim.

1. Arrange the feathers. Lay the feathers in a straight line on the tissue paper. Machine-sew across the base of the feathers twice.

2.  Tear away the tissue paper. Be careful not to pull apart the stitches or tear the feathers. Lay the feather fringe in place on the garment.

3. Sew the trim to the garment. Machine-sew across the top to secure it. If your garment is very lightweight, try hand-stitching the trim to the fabric.


Show us your feather projects in the Reader's Closet gallery.


Comments (15)

GrammaDonna GrammaDonna writes: It is possible to find "friendly" feathers. I have boxes of feathers from several types of chickens, guinea hens, turkeys, ducks that have dropped off my own chickens, etc. and have washed them in antibacterial soap solution, air dried, and have used some of them for hair ornaments, The person who said to check with "green" farms has the right idea.
Posted: 8:56 pm on April 22nd

LunaSee LunaSee writes: Can you wash feathers? Why not if they are not dyed? To Chm, please post a picture of your daughter in her prom dress.
Posted: 10:10 pm on April 21st

carpediemDW carpediemDW writes: With respect to RedWendy, with whom I agree, there is another way to ethically enjoy the beauty of feathers without causing harm. My jewelry and garments are occasionally embellished with feathers from: 1) vintage hats, 2)vintage flowers, and 3) moltings. I feel that by recycling the sacrifice/gift of the animal is being honored. Just be aware that there are laws regarding collecting and use of feathers. Thank you RedWendy for your concern and compassion.
Posted: 1:53 pm on April 21st

Laurie1962 Laurie1962 writes: Another wonderful source for feather..sporting goods store that caters to fly fisherman who make their own flys.
Posted: 12:16 pm on April 21st

PamThread PamThread writes: Thanks for the practical directions. I have feathers that I have collected "in the field" because I am an active birder. Does anyone have experience with preparation/cleaning of these feathers to prepare them for use on a garment?
Posted: 11:38 am on April 21st

RedWendy RedWendy writes: I am a vegan and I shop local. I cause the least amount of harm possible to people, animals, and the environment.

Green egg farmers?
Posted: 4:20 am on April 21st

arigirl arigirl writes: Thanks for the how-to! Great way to add feathers, love it!
As to how to attach it so it can be removed for cleaning... maybe the feathers could be sewn to a stretch lace seam tape (I get them at thrift stores for about 10 cents a pack, sometimes unopened), then hand sew hook and eyes onto the hem of the garment and the seam tape. I am going to try this, I'll post my results once I'm done! :)

Posted: 1:09 am on April 21st

EnsemblePieces EnsemblePieces writes: thanks for the how to! it's horrible how many things in our daily lives are obtained at the cost of others, but before you start going on about cruelty to birds, think of all the other purchases you make that cause pain to your fellow man before you jump up on your soap box.
Posted: 11:49 pm on April 20th

lenochka lenochka writes: I am agree with RedWendy.
Stores located in fashion district of New York city full of feather.I believe for commercial reason they pluck or cut feather and let birds free.After that birds not able to fly find food and most of them die from hunger or become easy meal
for other animals.

Posted: 10:54 pm on April 20th

sewbetsy sewbetsy writes: I have a friend who raises a variety of birds. When her birds molt they drop a beautiful variety of feathers. No cruelity involved. If you're worried about how the birds are treated...check out your local aviaries or "green" egg farmers. There's lots of places to look for beautiful natural do no harm feathers.
Posted: 10:35 pm on April 20th

RedWendy RedWendy writes: It's a common misconception that feathers used for fashion and home accessories are obtained without harm to animals. It would be nice if they just naturally fell off and were scooped off the ground but in reality, feathers are often plucked or clipped from living birds and they suffer tremendously for it. With so many fantastic man-made fabrics to choose from, there's no reason to wear feathers. Make a humane fashion statement!
Posted: 9:53 pm on April 20th

fernsflair fernsflair writes: A suggestion as far as cleaning goes, when you make the feather fringe, you should connect it by hooks or lightly basting it, this way you can remove it to clean your garment. A lot of times dry cleaners won't accept garments if there is a risk of damaging any detailed work.
Posted: 8:36 pm on April 20th

Chm Chm writes: Yes! cleaning! I just finished a prom dress for my daughter that has feathers. How do I wash it?
Posted: 7:41 pm on April 20th

SimplySue SimplySue writes: But what about cleaning the garment?
Posted: 7:32 pm on April 20th

SweetbriarStudio SweetbriarStudio writes: Love it! Would you share reasonable sources for the feathers? I've often wondered how garments have feathers that are so light and frilly. Thanks so much for the how-to.
Posted: 6:19 pm on April 20th

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