I have a thing about DIY feathers at the moment. I love to make denim feathers by fraying scraps of old jeans. This time I’ve made scrap fabric feathers.
It’s quite a relaxing craft to do in front of a box set and doesn’t require much concentration.
One night when I was sitting making my latest batch of denim feathers that I got the idea to make these tartan feathers. The denim feathers are great but they tend to be only one color.
When you think of real feathers in nature they are often not of just one color but are often multicolored and patterned. I thought how can I make faux feathers multicolored like real feathers.
That’s when I got the idea for making the DIY feathers with tartan fabric scraps. Tartan is a woven material like denim so the same method of making feathers should work with both fabrics.
Tartan, Plaid & Flannel Fabric
The word tartan seems to be interchangeable with the word plaid and even flannel when talking about the materials. There is much debate about the definition of each type of fabric.
Wikipedia defines tartan as a patterned cloth consisting of crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors, and tartans originated in woven wool.
The site also states that in North America the term plaid is commonly used to describe tartan. Flannel is a soft woven fabric and the term “flannel shirt” is often used casually to mean any shirt with a plaid/tartan pattern.
Having a Scottish mother I am familiar with tartan fabric and I’m drawn to it that is why I have plenty of scraps. I also love to wear warm flannel shirts in the autumn so have some plaid scraps.
Whether you call it tartan, plaid, flannel or buffalo check does not matter for this faux feather craft. The main thing you need to make sure that the fabric scraps are woven (preferably wool) and have some sort of checkered pattern.
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What You Need To Make The DIY Feathers
- Scraps of woven woolen fabrics, tartan, plaid or flannel. Old plaid shirts or even upholstery fabric samples would work well with this faux feather craft. The more colorful the fabric pattern the more colorful the DIY feathers will be.
- Natural twine
- Needle and threads in assorted colors
- Wooden beads
- Black sharpie
- Feather’s template (free to download on the denim feather tutorial).
How To Make The Scrap Fabric Feathers1.Download the feather template from the denim feathers page (see link above). Or draw your own feather shape onto paper. Cut out the feather shape in the size you want to make your faux feathers.
2. Place the feather shape onto a scrap of tartan fabric and draw around it. Depending on which way you lay your feather the pattern and color of your feathers will vary. Cut out the feather shape with a pair of scissors.
You must lay the feather template along the same direction of the fabric weave, so either horizontally or vertically but not at an angle.
My fabric scraps were large enough to make 2 feathers so I made one feather in each weave. That is I laid the feather template horizontally for one faux feather and vertically for the other.
This actually gave me two DIY feathers in two different patterns and color combinations from the same piece of scrap fabric.
3. Next, cut a length of twine about 30-40cm long. This twine will not only form the center spine of the feather but it will also give you something to hang the DIY tartan feathers with.
Lay the twine down the center of the faux feather shape. Then using a needle and cotton in the same color as the fabric stitch the twine in place. I just used a simple stitch that went around the twine to keep it in place.
Stitch the whole length of the faux feather spine.
You can glue the twine in place instead of stitching, which is what I did with the denim feathers. However, this time I thought I would stitch in the twine spine as I thought it would look better with the tartan/plaid fabric scraps.
Making The Faux Feathers By Fraying
4. Next, once the twine spine is firmly in place its time to turn the scrap fabric into a feather. To do this slowly pull out the threads from the long sides of the fabric scraps.
Pull the feathers out one by one until you reach the center spine. Make sure you pull the threads out on both sides of the center. Basically you are just fraying the woven fabric.
Top Tip: If the fabric is very tightly woven then it may be difficult to pull the threads. Especially, as you get to towards the center spine. I find if this is the case using a pin to tease out the threads one by one really helps.
Also, a bit of patience too!
5. Finally, to finish off these DIY feathers I added wooden beads. As well as being decorative the beads add a bit of weight to the light feathers which help them hang better.
Place the 2 feathers you made from the same piece of fabric together. Tie their two lengths of twine together with a simple knot then thread 2 beads onto the twine.
The knot is to stop the beads from slipping.
Even though both of the tartan feathers are made from the same piece of fabric, their colors and patterns will vary.
This is because of the different colored threads pulled from each feather. The colors will depend on whether the feather was cut vertically or horizontally from the tartan/plaid fabric.
This is illustrated more clearly with the red tartan feathers below. Again both DIY feathers were made from the same upcycled plaid shirt.
What To Do With The Faux Feathers
Once you start making these DIY feathers they get quite addictive. It’s really interesting trying out different plaids and tartans to see how these faux feathers turn out.
I imagine them coming from some exotic looking tartan Scottish bird!
I decided to display my colorful array of tartan feathers on a simple wall hanging by simply tying them to an old branch.
Smaller feathers would make fabulous earrings all you need to do was add a simple earring hook. They would also make a great necklace.
I’ve even made a DIY feather lampshade before, but that took a lot of feathers. I will carry on making these colorful feathers and make a garland with them or use them to adorn planters or even just as cute present toppers.
If you don’t have any tartan or plaid clothes to upcycle ask relatives and friends. I have seen bundles of tartan scraps available to buy on sites like eBay before. I’ve used tartan skirts before to make some cool Gucci-inspired tiger pillows.
Charity and thrift stores are also a good place to hunt out tartan and plaid clothing. If you are a bit cheeky a good source for woven tartan and plaid is free fabric samples, especially those from upholstery stores. As you only need small pieces of fabric to make these craft feathers, fabric samples are a perfect size.
As well as making feathers out of fabric you can make them out of paper. I made some map feathers out of old road maps for a large paper angel wings art to hang in my bedroom.
- Scraps of woven wool plaid or tartan fabrics
- Natural twine
- Wooden beads
- Download the feather template from my denim feathers tutorial.
- Cut out the feather size you want to make from the template
- Place the feather shape onto the fabric lying in the same direction as the weave. Draw around the feather shape with a sharpie.
- Cut out the feather shape.
- Cut a length of twine 30-40cm long.
- With a needle and thread stitch the twine down the center of the feather shape so that it acts as a spine. Use a simple stitch around the twine.
- One by one plug the threads from the long edge of the feather shape. Start at the outside edge and remove the threads one by one until you reach the center spine.
- Remove the threads on both sides of the spine.
- Make another feather this time cut out the shape with the template at 90 deg to the first feather.
- When the two feathers are finished tie them together by using a simple knot in the twine.
- Thread two wooden beads onto the twine.
- Hang from a twig using the excess twine.
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Don’t forget also to check out favecrafts for more homemade feather ideas.