Joan Brailsford – Flight

Flying the nest

Inspiration:  The flight of birds is so effortless, but I thought of depicting the tentative efforts of a young bird that has just left the nest, and perhaps that flight needs more effort.

I wanted to continue with my underlying theme of trees for the Flight challenge, and decided to use the tree in which a bird’s nest could be situated. From that nest, I wanted to depict the efforts of a young bird trying out his wings and learning to fly. I used a picture that illustrated the feeling of a mother bird coaxing her offspring to fly, and translated that into fabric.

I used hand-dyed fabric for the birds, cut to shape and further coloured with Inktense pencils, then hand stitched to add the shading and textures of the plumage. These were appliqued to a space dyed fabric background that had grey fabric heavily machined into place to form the tree branches. I used acrylic paint and a commercial fancy feather shaped stamp to represent the leaves of the tree. I hand stitched the details in the leaves, using both toning and contrasting  threads to give some depth to the background. I also hand-stitched some darker, finer branch shapes to suggest other trees. I hope that the shading of the background suggests the baby bird emerging from relative darkness into the light.

Detail views:


  1. We both went for birds but from so different perspectives. Love yours and you captured the concerns of the theme just perfect!

  2. Maryte Collard

    You truly expressed the feelings of a young bird. I hope he will fly soon. Love the background, the quilting on it.

  3. Your design, colors and stitching are wonderful, like all the pieces I have seen before. The young bird is adorable in its helplessness. You must be a good watcher to translate this so beautiful in fabric, my compliments!

  4. A really nice piece Joan. It looks like a piece of japanese fabric : pure lines of the design and bright colour !

  5. Iloveyour background – it is a perfect choice for the birds an branches. The hand-stitched details are charming, the birds are very nicely done.

  6. I love your background – it is a perfect choice for the birds an branches. The hand-stitched details are charming, the birds are very nicely done.

  7. Great choice of subject, I love all the details that you have added to a piece which on first glance looks so simple! Beautiful work!

  8. studiociboulette

    beautiful design and colors. the quilting of the little detail flowers in the tree also give me the sensation of flight. I love it.bravo.

  9. Very nice quilt. I like your tentative bird trying out his wings. Colors are lovely.

  10. You have beautifully captured the moment of the uncertain and unconfident flight of the young bird. Love your attention to detail!

  11. Beautiful work, I like the fineness of the design. The bright colours highlight the birds. I love it.

  12. Your birds are fantastic. The whole piece has such a serene beauty. Colours, design, hand stichting it all says Joan at a glance .Bravo.

  13. This quilt gives me the feeling I need to help the little bird. How great how you did the birds, the leaves, everything. Very well done.

  14. I like the baby bird, but I really love the feathery leaves with their colours and stitched details.

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