Joan Brailsford – Series #3 – Complementary – Rough land

The complementary colours I chose are blue and orange, and although my subject  is ‘trees’ I wanted to use orange in the background rather than for the leaf colours, as I didn’t want to be too literal when depicting the tree. I also wanted to depict the roughness of a moorland landscape where isolated trees grow.

The orange landscape uses fabrics of different weights and textures which are raw-edge pieced, and manipulated by tucking, gathering, couching and both machine and hand stitching. The sky uses a whole piece of hand-dyed cotton and is kept much less busy as a contrast to the land. The tree trunk and branches are made from randomly gathered and pleated dark blue light-weight cotton, cut and manipulated to shape and hand-stitched in place. The leaves are made by cutting rough diamond shapes from an assortment of blue fabric scraps. These are then gathered in the middle to form pairs of leaf shapes and each pair is hand-stitched in place only at the centre gather. The edges are left raw and they are loose except at the centre, so they form soft ‘piles’ of foliage.

I used machine stitching to quilt swirls in the sky (to simulate clouds), and to add a few contour lines in the ground. The remainder of the quilting uses hand-stitching, adding further lines and texture to the ground, and when adding the leaves to the tree.

The finished piece is rather tactile, which is not really conveyed in a photograph, but trust me, it’s nice to touch!


Keywords: complementary colours, raw-edged piecing, manipulated by tucking, randomly gathered and pleated, machine and hand stitching, blue fabric scraps


Close up view:


Other pieces in the series:


  1. Well done, your technique and choice of colours and material round out your series. Well done. Cheers

  2. A very fitting end to your series and I love the blue leaves. Wonderful stitch detail on the moorland as well. Great work.

  3. I like your work on the orange part of the background; the choice of blue leaves is very clever and gives a special touch to your piece. Successful series !

  4. Beautiful background. I love the texture. This one complements your series very successful.

  5. Nice composition. The texture and color and stitching combine to make a fine work. Very lovely.

  6. This quilt complete very well your series and the ideas for the leaves are really interesting and well executed.

  7. I love your series and the way you build it up Joan. The unexpected way you used the colours and the detailed work in the leaves in this piece are very effective. My compliments!

  8. I’m in love with your blue tree. I wished I had one in my garden. It is so nice how you did your background as well as the leaves. Nice detail to use blue/orange batiks for some leaves. A wonderful series!

  9. studiociboulette

    The 3 dimensional leaves give your tree that sensation of freedom in the wind. Beautiful! Love the colors.

  10. English quilter

    I love the way you combined the blues and oranges. The textures in the rough earth are very effective. The tree initially gives an impression of gracefulness and isolation. The blue leaves are very effective and look as though they belong in this scene. Well done! The series is very cohesive and the three pieces work well together

  11. Love the texture and color of the background and the 3 D effect of the leaves. A very cohesive series, well done Joan!

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