I used marabou feather boa trim on the following projects: 18th century pink silk w/ white marabou hooded cape, 18th century black silk w/ black marabou hooded cape, my fluffy white modern hat, and most recently, my early 19th century (Regency) cream silk w/ white marabou pelerine.
|18th C pink silk hooded cape|
|19th C cream silk pelerine|
Also on the sidebar (near top) is a link to my Pinterest board of capes, cloaks, pelerines, mantles, and other examples of historical outerwear, many of which have marabou trim OR ermine or other furs.
There are different methods for sewing on marabou trim, and what I used was intended to very thoroughly secure the marabou to the cape/pelerine edges, and minimize the amount of feather shafts (the hard middle part of the feather) that stick up. I did this by securing the marabou every 1/8-1/4 inch instead of every 1/2 or 1 inch or so, which was laboriously and difficult, but ends with a lovely finished product!
Finding the SMOOTH side: Pick up the marabou feather boa and stroke it a few times in opposite directions, finding the smooth side (the side that strokes the feathers down versus standing up). The smooth side direction top will be your top edge. This is what you want to start with, to secure on your cape/cloak/etc. Keep in mind that you want the feathers to smooth DOWN, so if you are starting with the hood, find the middle of the hood at the top, and then start there and make sure the feather boa is smooth going down one side of the hood, then using a separate piece, start again on the other side of the middle ensuring that the feather boa is smooth going down the second side of the hood.
Marabou feather boa, SMOOTH side versus NON SMOOTH side:
|NON SMOOTH side|
Sewing it down: Using a needle that has been double-threaded (I used Mettler's 100% cotton), First, you gently cut away the bit of rope at the end of the feather boa, leaving you with only feather shafts (use non-sewing scissors). Starting from the bottom (lining side) hide a thread knot underneath the edge of the bias binding, coming up slightly over the middle on the top edge (above the marabou).
|Start your needle from below, hide knot|
|(View without flash)|
|Take your needle OVER the marabou (hard to see)|
Continue with the above, sewing down all the marabou feather trim using double thread thickness (for securing) and hiding your knots as you go. It's fine if your stitches overlap each other a bit, it will make the marabou edge very secure.
Finishing: Once you have completely sewn on all the marabou trim (keeping in mind it should be SMOOTH vertically), you will now need to 're-fluff' the marabou! The double thread is now holding down (trapping) the fluffy marabou feather bits along the edge, and you will get a beautiful finished edge when you re-fluff it. Taking a needle or pin, hold the marabou up vertically (smooth or rough side doesn't matter).
Gently work out the fluffy feathers to release them from the (now) horizontal threads, picking out a small bit at a time, making sure not to pull too hard. If you pull too hard, the thin shafts of the feather fluff will break, so work gently and carefully.
|Fluffing the marabou|
|See how the marabou is 'trapped' under the thread?|
|Fluffy marabou again!|
Tips and tricks: The marabou feather fluffy bits MAY get caught up in your thread at times. If so, stop pulling and gently work at the area with your needle until your thread is able to be pulled through again. For me, it seemed to happen more with the white marabou boas then the black ones: the white ones were not quite as 'full' as the black ones, so this quality difference seemed to affect how easy it was to sew down without getting caught.
Note: if you are not looking to secure the marabou well and want to re-use it on other projects, you can sew down the marabou trim every 1/2 to 1 inch or more, and it may move around a bit but can be possibly removed later for re-use. I wanted my garments to last so choose the above securing method.
And there you go, I hope this mini tutorial was helpful!