How to Do Threadwork on Feathers

How to Do Threadwork on Feathers

Posted By Paul G April 7th, 2014 Last Updated on: December 11th, 2019

After many requests, I'm finally getting around to a tutorial on threadwork….flat style (not stacked).


  • Something to wrap…feather quill, dowel rod, etc.
  • Thread…I love Sulky brand rayon sewing/embroidery machine thread
  • Scissors…small and SHARP!!!
  • Glue…whatever you like…I like Aleens Tacky Glue…dries clear and flexible…washes off fingers easily!
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Pencil or pen…I like Micron pens (indelible ink, super tiny point)


Prepping surfaces to wrap:

Bare quills: normally very slick…you might need to scratch the surface with very fine grit sandpaper…or coat with a thin layer of glue (let dry)…I usually overwrap real quills with thin buckskin first.

Wooden dowel rods/bamboo skewers…don't really need prep work

If you have other things you want to em here and I will give you hints if I have any!!!

Choose your colors!

I always plan out my color scheme first…count colors and do a little math to figure how I want my wrapped segements to look.

Mark your segements directly on the stick…this is where you will change threads for a new color.

Marking on buckskin is easy with marker or really sharp mechanical pencil.

Marking on dowels is easy too, but I suggest a light coat of clear fingernail polish over pencil marks to keep em from rubbing off the wood as you work!


Now you're ready to begin wrapping…

Please note in this pic, I've created a paper cone/collar to hold the feathers out of the way…otherwize you'll go crazy trying to avoid catching fluff in the top of your threading!

I'm right handed:

Hold the thing you're wrapping (I'll keep calling it a “stick”) in your left hand and hold the thread in your right hand.

Create a vertical “tag” with the end of the thread and hold it down tight against the stick with your left thumb, then wrap around and over the tag once or twice to hold it secure.

Now you shouldn't have to hold on to the tag any more and you can freely spin the stick in your left hand while guiding the thread with your right.

Wrap with good, even tension, carefully keeping the wraps close

Tension while wrapping sticks isn't much of an issue (other than too much of it resulting in broken thread)

Tension while wrapping over buckskin can be tricky: altering tight and loose tensions will result in bulges and indentions in the finished product…a little practice will help you find your groove!

Keep wrapping until you reach your mark.



PS: about holding your thread in your right hand…I don't wrap directly off the spool (though you certainly can do it this way)…I set the spool down and run the thread through my hand, going around some fingers on the way, ultimately pinching it between my thumb and index finger…this helps me control the wraps and tension really well…and yes, results in a few cramps and callouses! lol

Practice lots to get a grip on what works best for you! AYE!

Now let's change colors!

Hold your last wrap down against the stick with your left thumb and cut your thread leaving about a 2 inch tail.

Then carefully start a new color by creating a new vertical tag and sliding it under the same thumb that's holding the first tail.

Tag and tail should be practically on top of each other

Then loop around again once or twice with the new color to hold the tag and tail in place.

Adjust your grip, spin that stick, and wrap to your next mark!

You can continue to wrap over your tails, or you can trim em as you go… I like to trim as I go cuz some colors show thru a bit (like thru yellow or white)

Just clip the tails in the middle of a wrapped section and keep on wrapping to hide em underneath.






Now start your next color holding those tags and tails and maintaining even tension!


Continue til you come to the last segment!

This time leave a long tag that will not be clipped off and will hag out of the last finished segement…red tail in pic is a good 4-5 inches long

This is what I use to tie my one and only knot at the end of the stick.


I usually place the stick between my knees so it doesn't roll, then use the final thread to tie a square knot with the final tail.


Then bring the 2 thread together, clip em short and place a tiny dot of glue on that knot.

Use your left thumb to smear the glue (with one last spin of the stick) around the very last wrap and glue down the final tail too! this will help hide them into the final wrapped segment.




Some examples of my more advanced work (over buckskin):

The one on the left is 2mm segments with some metallic threads too.

The one on the right is 3mm segments.







Tutorial Posted on Forums by walela49.

Original Discussion Thread

Visit walela49's website to purchase her work!

Home » Native American Articles » Pow Wow » Craft Tutorials » How to Do Threadwork on Feathers

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A. Courtis

Thank you! What happens if my feathers have no quills, do you have suggestions?


Can you show how you put the feathers together in the cone and on the stick that would be really helpful

Valerie vargas

Hi your work is very beautiful. I’m just learning how to do this and I would love to watch videos of how you make the fans from start to finish. Maybe you can do this and post on youtube or send me a video to my email address. I would appreciate it. Thank you.


Sheldon Grady

So Nice it is Good

Harry Davis

So Nice work and amazing idea its looking so beautiful

Ira Kaufman

Hi Walela, thank you so much for sharing the “how to” with your beautiful artistry. I would like to visit your website to purchase some of your work. However, the link to walela49 doesn’t lead me to a website. It says “domain name is available for purchase”. Can you please email me your website? I would also like to be on your newsletter list too. I so admire your work, and hope to give this a try. Been beading on a loom for a while now, and branching out to other crafts.


Always so happy to find useful instructions that I can follow when I am making items I have not made before….

Carissa Peterson

Are you threading rate over the dowels? For example I have wooden ones.

JoAnn Padgett

Beautiful! I have white owl feathers, I’m going to try this in honor of my husbands great grand mother . Wado


where do you purchase your feathers?



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