Introduction: En-Golden Your Peacock Feather Spines

About: I re*make mobility devices and materials and give them new lives. I re*use often. And sometimes I staple drape.

And now for the next step in peacock feather madness….

Outlining faux feather spines with gold!

If this is your first time visiting, I'm A. Laura Brody.
I'm making faux peacock feathers to re-upholster a Jazzy Power Scooter and showing you the process step by step. I made the peacock feather's "eye" in step one, formed the "spine" and "ribcage" of the feather in step 2 and uncovered hidden golden trim in step 3. This is the 4th step. Welcome!

If you want to know why I'm re-upholstering a Jazzy Power Scooter, check out my mobility art at Dreams by Machine.

For this step you'll need:

A sewing machine and sewing machine needles


Sharp scissors

A tape lint remover OR packing tape OR a vacuum cleaner with a hand nozzle

The peacock feather with its pinned-down green velvet "ribs"

and the golden trim from the last step.

Step 1: Set Up Your Gold

First off, I thread the sewing machine and set it to a narrow zig-zag stitch. I'm using a tan thread that blends in pretty well with the golden trim.

Then I lay a piece of golden trim over one of the green velvet “ribs”. I leave a little tail of gold to extend past the end of the velvet and center the sewing machine foot over the trim. I back stitch a little bit at the tip to lock my threads in place, then hold the trim over the center of the velvet. It’s easier to hold it down than to pin it.

Then I start zig-zagging in earnest and take out the pins as I go. When I've finished sewing down one bit of velvet and trim, I continue the golden trim down part of the “spine”, then double back to sew down another velvet piece. This trim is very narrow, so doubling it up just adds an extra punch of gold.

When I get to the tip of the second piece of velvet, I backstitch again. At both ends of the velvet pieces, I snip off the trim and the threads but leave a little "tail" to feather out at the tips. This helps add to the feathery quality.

Then I move on to another set of velvet and trim! Holding the trim in smooth curves over the velvet and transitioning it to the relatively straight spine of the feather makes my lines flow nicely.

Step 2: De-lint the Fronds

Once all the velvet is sewn down with gold, it’s time for fuzzing and de-linting.

The velvet pieces are cut on the bias for 2 reasons: it curves nicely AND it frays beautifully.

Sometimes the best tool available is your own hand. I use my fingernails to scratch each velvet frond until the edges are completely frayed. This makes a huge mess, so after each piece is properly fuzzy it's good to de-lint! Tape roller lint removers do the trick. You can also use a roll of packing tape or a vacuum cleaner with a hand nozzle attachment. Vacuum cleaners don't waste so much tape, but if you use one keep a firm hold on the fabric. Otherwise you may have to fish your feather out of the vacuum. This will make you sad.

When it's all cleaned up, the feathery effect of the fuzzed-out velvet is clear. Voila! It's a solid peacock feather base.

Pro tips:

1. Take out pins as you go. Trust me on this.
2. Fair warning: I am really casual about the occasional cut, poke, burn or bleeding finger. It’s just part of the job. But I do make an effort to clean up my wounds quickly. First off, it makes them heal better. And second, I’m way less likely to bleed all over my work.

and 3. yes, it is true. Your own spit will remove your own blood stain. Unless of course you’ve had a lot of coffee, at which point you’re just staining the fabric with coffee.

Next time I'll bring in the blue fronds.