Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Fascinating feathers

Over the years I have made some knockout fascinators. It's not my bread and butter, but I really enjoy it.

At the moment I am making a gorgeous pink number, and whilst I was curling feathers I thought it might be an opportune moment to do a quick tutorial for anyone interested in having a go at their own fascinator.

This is not going to be a step by step, how to make a fascinator, but merely equip you with some techniques for making your own design.

So, now for curling and shaping feathers. You will need:

  • fabric scissors, super sharp along the whole blade with no nicks
  • paper scissors, not as sharp as your fabric scissors
  • hot iron
  • feathers to practice on

There is a lot to think about the nature of your chosen feather when trying to manipulate it. How thick the 'stem' of the feather and how much force you need to bend it. If it naturally leans to a side or twists and if the shape needs stripping or tidying up to create the shape you want.

First off, here is a little illustration of some of the great shapes you can create by simply stripping, cutting and bending your feather:

There are a couple of different ways to bend feathers:

You can use the blunt side of some scissors and pull it along the underside of the feather squeezing the feather between the blade and your thumb as you pull up the feather stem. If the feather is very thick like an ostrich quill you may also need to put tiny dents in the underside to force it to bend. The closer your dents the smoother and tighter the curl.

You can use an iron (or sometimes a hair curling iron if you need a spiral) and you will need to use a similar pulling technique on the inside of the feather between a heatproof surface and the iron.

Both techniques require patience and practice to master, so start practising.

Strip feathers from the tip down in as smooth a pull as you can. It may require a paint touch up on the stripped side, as it actually pulls off the top layer of feather.

Cutting feathers can create some lovely effects too. I find it much easier to cut from the end of the feather nearest the stem as it tends to flick away if you do it the other way around: resulting in a less clean cut.

So there you have it, go practice and play and let me know how you get on...

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