Bling, Beads and Curly Feathers

A friend asked me to make her a feather for her Elevation outfit and this is the end result;  

It contains no less then 3 ostrich feathers, each hand curled, stitched together and decorated with filigree decoration on both ends and along the stem. 

Decorated feathers seems to be used around the 16th century throughout Europe and even some woodcuts shows decorated feathers on Landsknechts.

How to make really fluffy feathers

Pick similar coloured feathers, I’ll recommend to start with just two, it is kind of tricky to wrap them as it is. 

During the last two years of selling ostriches feathers at events, I have had the opportunity to select and save the whitest non dyed feathers in the stock, initially to be used for a Saxon hat, so I had a couple to choose from for this project instead.

1) Use a sharp knife and curl each vane, kind of like you curl gift ribbon. Be careful so you don’t rip them off (it’s not the end of the world if you damage a couple, the curls will cover you)


2) When you’re done with the curls, you want to attach them; sometimes the end of the stem is a bit thick and needs to be shaved off a bit. Use a sharp knif and be careful to not slip. Removing part of the end stem will make your feathers lay more flat to each other, and will give you a thinner end, which will fit into the aiglet easier in the end.


3) Attach the feathers. A natural linen thread blends nicely with the colour of the stem. Wrap it carefully around both feathers. If a vane get caught, use a needle to carefully pull it out. Don’t stress this part, take your time to wrap it even around the stem.

(From an old project;  the linen thread is visible from the underside, some stray vanes is pulled out with a needle)


4) If you want to add beads, the just add them along the way while you wrap the thread. It’s a pain in the butt to wrap and bead at the same time, so may skip this part for your first time binding feathers together. 

The decoration used for this feather is actually a cut open filigree bead; it was light and the slight curve made it easy to use on the stem without it sliding around on the rounded surface. 


To the left, the beads specially bought for the project was not right, they was too heavy and slightly curved and wouldn’t lay flat to the stem. To the right, the filigree bead in its different stages of being cut up. 
5) I wanted to add all the bling! to the feathers, and used two filigree aiglets on each end.

Pretty neat right? Took around 10-12 hours to make, give and take all the mistakes and changes I did during the project.


Few techniques to add Turban ornaments

Mistress Juliana of Caid

Master Roland of Atenveldt

Nationalmuseum, Sweden

British Museum, England

Museo Nacional del Prado, Spain

6 comments on “Bling, Beads and Curly Feathers

  1. vulgarcrowd says:

    Interesting with decorated feathers – have never reflected over that before! Thanks for that!

  2. Sabine says:

    This is a wonderfully laid out tutorial. Clear, sequential instructions with how to remedy common problems, and an approximate time listed for completion of this activity that allows better reality based time management. Thank you!

    Not only do I value your knowledge and ability to share it, I use your posting as examples of how I would like a blog I am working on to flow.

  3. […] used this technique before, read more about how-to-do or follow the quick […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s