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Attaching feathers, how to?

educo | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I’d like to make a ultra glamourous feather vest. How do I do that? I have a basic vest pattern. Any good inexpensive feather sources as well?


  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    Educo, you have some of the neatest ideas!  Could you fill us in with a little more information on what you are thinking tho?  Do you want a fluffy feather effect, like maribou, or something flatter like a bird's wing.  Are the feathers totally covering the vest, or scattered all over.  Do you have a picture or sketch you could share.  In order to help you out we need more details please!  Thanks.   Cathy

  2. jjgg | | #2

    YOu can buy feather trim - it comes on a small (1/2 inch or so) light band, then all you have to do is sew the band onto the fabric - row after row after row. Depending on the density that you want, you sew the rows closer or farther apart. you can get all different types of feathers, in sll sorts of colors.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #3

      Thank you Jigg.  You have the neatest sources for different trims and accessories.  I had not seen those where I am.   Where did you see them?

      I was trying to find out the effect that Educo wanted so I could suggest the different types of feathers that are available.  Costume supply houses have many wild and wonderful trims that are often quite affordable.   Maribou comes in boas, and so do other types of feathers.  These can be stitched onto a vest easily, covering a large area with relatively little yardage if a fluffy look is wanted.  Craft feathers can be purchased in the wildest colours and kinds very cheaply, and can be sewn on as well, if cost is a factor.  They can be inserted into bead trims easily as well, as this is easier than sewing, and much more luxurious looking if glitter is wanted as well.  Even the dollar stores carry short lengths of feather boas now, but they lose the feathers easily and you have to stitch them down carefully.  Cathy

      Edited 11/7/2008 10:07 am ET by ThreadKoe

      1. jjgg | | #4

        I have a client that wants a dress with the skirt portion covered in pink ostrich feathers, so I went a looking....
        I did see the feather trim at High Fashion Fabric in Houston. They had several different feather trims. And they had pink Ostrich feathers. I then googled ostrich feather trim and found other sources.

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #6

          That sounds like a really fun project.  This is such a staid area, no one would think to wear something like that here.  :(  LOVE IT!  Thats the problem with living near the Nation's Capital-such a boring political lot, all black and grey....tee hee   I have to go to Toronto or Montreal for the really colourful stuff.    Cathy

  3. Teaf5 | | #5

    Some good suggestions so far, but here's a caution: feathers don't last very long in some climates. In our area, items with feathers have a useful life of only about a year or two; after that, the feathers start falling apart and make a big mess. If I made a vest embellished with feathers, I'd attach the feathers to another layer of fabric before attaching it to the fashion fabric so that I could replace them and keep the vest longer.

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #7

      Teaf, have you tried using a spray on, leave in hair conditioner on the feathers before sewing them on?  It makes them softer, less full of static, and they stay moisturized lots longer.  I do not know if it damages them over a long length of time, but like hair, they are protein based, and they do dry out.   Cathy

      1. educo | | #8

        Hey guys! Thanks for the responses. I got two looks I have in mind, just want to spruce up my wardrobe with some 30's inspired stuff. I can't stop thinking about those glamour days and I thought it wouldn't be such a bid deal to make a feather vest.So I'm thinking about doing a version with ostrich feathers like the trim on this McQueen dress, so full and luscious! Or something like this which to me seems like a glamour boudoir thing that Kate Moss is wearing. Can you imagine that with a silk something underneath? I don't know, I feel like having fun with this project, with the holidays coming up!Thanks for all the suggestions, I did think about trim, but i was worried that it would look too stripey, if that makes sense. I was willing to do it by hand!

        1. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #9

          Ok, do not laugh, but at Halloween, my SIL made a chicken costume using feather boas.  She sewed them on by machine.  The effect was similar to the ostrich feathers.  It looked really great.   If you used nicer feathers, it would be more glorious!  And it was really easy. 

          If you wish to sew feathers on by hand, Think about sewing them on like native quill stitching.  Stitch it on upwards, then crease the quill, fold it down and stitch it again, so it is held in place with two stitches.  Because they cover a fair bit of area, stagger the feathers, overlapping them a bit. 

          Please post a picture of your finished project, as this is such a fun one!  Cathy

          1. educo | | #10

            Hey thanks! I thought it would be easier to buy feather trim and stitch like tiers.Quill quilting? I'm not familiar with quilting, so I'll have to look up that technique.Thanks!

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #11

            It is actually a beading technique, from the native americans.  They use porcupine quills and stitch them down.  Cathy

          3. mclones1 | | #12

            I would like to attach feather trim so that it spills out the neckline but the quills of the feather trims are very stiff, and if attached on the inside of the neckline, would stand up and brush against my chin. I don't want to attach it to the outside because I want the effect of the feathers spilling out and not having the fabric part of the trim show. Any ideas?

          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #13

            Since the feathers would look like they were spilling out of a neckline, consider having a hidden neckline inside the feathers.  A false neckline with the feathers spilling out, with a small, secondary neckline just inside the feathers to protect you from the feathers.  As the feathers will be standing up slightly, it will not be seen.  The feathers could be inserted between these easily. 

            Of course, the choice of feathers used would make a difference as well.  Some types of feathers are really fluffy with very soft quills.  They would not be as bad as the stiffer ones.  The length of the feathers would make a difference as well.  Placing longer feathers on a diagonal would make them more flexible and less pokey as well.

            Those are my thoughts anyhow.  Hope this gives you some ideas.  Cathy

          5. mclones1 | | #18

            Thanks for the ideas, Cathy, tho' I'm not quite sure I can visualize a double neckline. The feathers are attached to a flange. But I think I will also look for softer quilled feathers. I also came upon someone who regularly used feathers and he suggested using a hair curling iron to coax the quills to curve over.

          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #19

            I think the curling iron is the greatest idea!  Perfect solution!  Cathy

          7. Ceeayche | | #20

            a curling iron, who would have thunk it?  I am really looking forward to seeing this project.

    2. Cindypin | | #14

      I purchased a black velvet dress for a Christmas gala around 1982. It is a classic sheath which never goes out of style and the empire portion is done completely in shiny black, compact ostrich feathers. (not fluffy)  It still looks as new as it did when I purchased it, although the fit is a bit snug now. I live in Littleton, Colorado, so maybe I reside in an ostrich-feather-lovin-climate! I say bring on the feathers! 

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #16

        How are the feathers attached?  Can you see?  Just wondering.  Cathy

      2. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #22

        I'd love to see a picture of that dress. It sounds so glamorous and vampy. On the latest Project runway, one of the contestants, my senior brain has temporarily forgotten her name, made this stunning wedding gown with a feather skirt. I loved it.

      3. Teaf5 | | #23

        Colorado's air is much drier than California's--that's why you have nice powder snow, while we have Sierra Cement!  Even in a drought, we have fairly high humidity, so feathered objects and garments start falling apart after about a year or so.  Somehow, though, it's a good place to raise peacocks and emus, who don't seem to have any problems with their feathers.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #25

          I didn't see your comment until after i posted, as you can see, we had the same thoughts on this. 

          My family does fly tieing for fishing, using feathers, they keep forever out here too.  I used to have some feathered earrings that fell apart in Va. too, but that could have been the glue they used rather than the humidity. 

      4. MaryinColorado | | #24

        Hi!  I don't remember seeing your name here before, Cindypin.  Welcome to the forum!  I had a beautiful rabbit fur parka in Colorado, I moved to Va. and it hung in a closet because it was so warm there.  The humidity destroyed it within a year.  So I am thinking the same thing might happen with the feathers in a humid climate.  But then , the birds seem to like it, so maybe not?  Mary

  4. Ceeayche | | #15

    Wow sounds fun!!!  WE WANT PICTURES!!!!!  Can't wait to see your final project!

  5. MyrtleFillmore | | #17

    Read what kittycat said in Ethical and Green Sewing discussion line.

    1. educo | | #21

      Hello, I understand what she is saying and I agree. I am looking into synthetic feathers actually since I do see feathers as fur.

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