How to quilt the Feathered Christmas quilt

Feathered ChristmasSince releasing the Feathered Christmas with Embroidered Appliqué collection a couple of weeks ago, I’ve received a number of emails about the quilting on it. The quilting is free motion – done by me!

The biggest concern seems to be – I can’t quilt like you, so what do I do?

This is where the Transformation Quilting Collection comes to the rescue! Following is a tutorial on how to use one of the designs from this collection to quilt the background for this quilt – before doing the embroidered appliqué.

Let’s get started!

I used the design “01-06×12-Single” in the following diagrams. You could switch this out with nearly any of the designs, altering the markings to fit the design that you choose.

How to Quilt Feathered Christmas

Click on any of the images below to see a larger version. I am assuming that you have already created the quilt top as in the instructions provided with the Feathered Christmas with Embroidered Appliqué design collection. The quilting design used for the top and bottom border of the quilt is 0.75″ wider than the border, so if you want to be able to see all of the quilting (versus cutting it off when you trim the quilt), add an extra 1″ to the width of the top and bottom borders.

Step 1: Mark the background

How to Quilt Feathered ChristmasStart by drawing a vertical and horizontal center line as shown in pink. Be sure to use a marking pen or pencil that is guaranteed to remove from the background fabric.

Draw a vertical line 6″ on either side of the vertical center, shown in blue.

Draw a horizontal line 12″ on either side of the horizontal center, shown in orange. These two lines should be right on top of the seam lines, so it’s not actually necessary to draw them onto the background fabric.

Center the marked background onto a piece of batting that is cut to 28″ x 32″.

Stitch along all marked lines using a 5mm long stitch length. This serves two purposes: first to baste the background fabric to the batting; second to make the marking lines more secure.

For each hooping:

  1. Load a piece of medium weight tearaway stabilizer into your hoop. My favorite is OESD Ultra Clean and Tear.
  2. Load the design into your machine.
  3. Loosen the top tension on your embroidery machine by about 0.5. To minimize any tension problems, use the same thread in the bobbin as you use on the top. My favorite is AURIfil Cotton Mako 50 weight.
  4. Stitch color #1 directly onto the stabilizer.
  5. Align the background fabric with the markings now stitched onto the stabilizer  in the hoop. The 4 corners of the space you are going to quilt should align perfectly with the 4 corners of the placement line stitched onto the stabilizer.
  6. Hold the background fabric in place on the stabilizer using pins.
  7. Restitch color #1 to hold the background fabric firmly in place.
  8. Stitch color #2 – the actual quilting.
  9. Remove everything from the hoop and tear away the excess stabilizer from around the outside of the basting line stitched in step 7.
  10. When you’re done with all of the hoopings, remove all basting lines.

For each step below, stitch the first hooping, then turn the background 180 degrees and stitch the second hooping.

Step 2: Hoopings 1 and 2

How to Quilt Feathered ChristmasStitch the design 01-06×12-Single

Step 3: Hoopings 3 and 4

How to Quilt Feathered ChristmasMirror the design on the vertical axis in your machine and stitch again

Step 4: Hoopings 5 and 6

How to Quilt Feathered ChristmasMirror the design again on the vertical axis – it should now be as it was when you first loaded it. Stitch again.

Step 5: Hoopings 7 and 8

How to Quilt Feathered ChristmasMirror the design yet again on the vertical axis and stitch again.

Step 6: Hoopings 9 and 10

How to Quilt Feathered ChristmasStitch the design 01-06×12-Single-Split2.

You will need to rotate the background 90 degrees counter clockwise. The bulk of the quilt will be hanging off the right side of the hoop – under the throat of your machine. Roll it up to prevent it from getting caught in the stitching.

Step 7: Hoopings 11 and 12

How to Quilt Feathered ChristmasStitch the design 01-06×12-Single-Split2-Mirror

You will need to rotate the background 90 degrees clockwise. The bulk of the quilt will now be hanging off the left side of the hoop.

Now that your background is quilted, stitch the embroidered appliqué tree as in the instructions. When you’re all done with the embroidered appliqué, apply a false back to the quilt and bind.

I’d love to see photos of quilts that you create using this method!


  1. What is a “false back”?

    • Usually when you make a quilt, you have the top, batting and back. When I’m quilting small projects in the hoop, especially if I am doing embroidered appliqué after the quilting, I don’t want people to see the back of the project. This is when I add what I call a “false back”. It’s essentially a piece of fabric added to the back of the quilt to cover up the back of the quilt – but it doesn’t get quilted.

  2. Hi Sarah, I would like to make a hard copy of your notes but I have not been able to find away to do this. I am an older person and fine it hard to work of the computer screen. I have just bought both the Christmas Feathers & Transformation Quilting Collection.

    • Hi Margaret,
      You should be able to print any of my blog posts from within your browser – Ctrl+P on a Windows PC, Command+P on a Mac.

  3. I have a question about the bernina cutwork files. This is the first time I’m using my cutwork tool. There are two files, how many times do you do each one? Do you have to flip the designs?

    • Hi Susan,
      There are two cutwork files and 4 pieces of fabric. For each file, use 2 pieces of fabric right sides together. You’ll end up with mirror images of each shape. There will be a couple of extra hearts to use in a different project!

  4. Would LOVE to see all the steps on this (I’m a visual learner) on a video–not a general how-to-applique but an actual how to applique the Feathered Christmas Tree set, since I’m working on a Viking, not a Bernina, and I will be cutting out the appliques with scissors and will need to split the design, if possible, on my machine, 4 ways. Thanks!

    • Hi Marilyn,
      It doesn’t matter which brand of embroidery machine you are using – the instructions are based on hoop size. The design has already been split to accommodate various sizes of hoop 🙂

      • Thank you, Sarah. I’ve never used split designs on my machine, so I will probably need some practice before going for the final project. These are just beautiful trees. Thank you so much.

  5. Do you only add an inch to the top and bottom borders? Does the embroidery design fit in the side borders without making them an inch wider?

  6. Hi Sarah,
    I purchased the Christmas Tree wall hanging kit at my local quilt store as well as the Go does. Anyway my question is have you posted a video of how to hoop the section? I have the Bernina 770 QE and purchased the Maxi hoop. I have stitched out the top portion and I am now ready to the left split. New to the Bernina and this is my first attempt at using the embroidery module. A little nervous to say the least any help would be greatly appreciated.

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