What Kinds of Feathers Are Used for Stuffing Pillows, Quilts and Upholstery?
Feathers used for stuffing pillows, quilts and upholstery are judged on the basis of springiness, shape, texture, odor, density and ability to hold up under weight. Size is also an important factor.
The finest feather stuffed pillows contain a mixture of three fourths goose or waterfowl down and one fourth goose feathers. Goose feathers alone, or a mixture of goose and duck feathers, can also make fine fillings for pillows.
Down alone does not have the needed ability to hold up under weight. Chicken and turkey feathers make poor stuffing for pillows. They are stiff, hard, and heavy with little bounce. They also tend to mat.
Birds have two chief kinds of feathers: contour and down.
Contour feathers are the large, fern shaped feathers that cover the wings, body and tail. A contour feather has a very strong, flexible center shaft. The lower part of this shaft is called the quill.
The rachis, or upper part of the shaft, supports the web or vane, the flat part of the feather. The web is made up of and held together by parts called barbs, barbules and hook lets.
Barbs branch out from the shaft like the branches of a tree. Several hundred barbules branch out from each barb. The hook lets interlock with those on nearby barbules and hold the web together.
Down is a small, soft feather found beneath the outer feathers of ducks, geese and other waterfowl. Down has no central shaft. The silky fibers of down grow outward from a common center.