On the Wings of a Dream ©2008 Caryl Bryer Fallert

On the Wings
of a Dream

Printable version

  • Copyright © 2008  Caryl Bryer Fallert
  • 63" wide X 64" high (160cm x 164cm)
  • 100% cotton fabric, machine pieced, and quilted
  • Price: $61,000.00

See details below
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Best of Show:
International Quilt Festival 2009

Photo by Shawn Quinlan
If you would like to purchase or exhibit this quilt, please contact Caryl privately.
Email • Phone: 360-385-2568 • Snail Mail: Bryerpatch Studio •10 Baycliff Place. • Port Townsend, WA 98368

Design Concept:

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On the Wings of a Dream ©2008 Caryl Bryer Fallert
On the Wings of a Dream ©2008 Caryl Bryer Fallert
On the Wings of a Dream ©2008 Caryl Bryer Fallert
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On the Wings of a Dream is about starting a new life in a new place. In 2005, my husband and I moved from the Fox Valley of Illinois, where I had spent my whole life, to Paducah, Kentucky where he could have the rural farm he had always wanted, and I could build a studio and workshop center in the nearby arts district. Shortly after my studio was completed my husband died.

The loss of a life partner means the closing of a chapter, but also the beginning of a new chapter, with new possibilities. Flying cranes and herons have frequently appeared in my work as symbols of the ultimate feeling of freedom. I have wanted to dance all of my life, and never had the opportunity to learn. To me dance seemed very close to flying.

Original pencil sketch

Caryl quilting on George
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(Quilting machine by APQS)

As a new life chapter begins there is freedom to make new choices and try new things. The dancer and the transparent white bird merge together to represent this freedom. The eagle represents the past which must be left behind in order to move forward. Two weeks after I started this quilt in July of 2007, I began taking dance lessons, and the quilt was completed in August of 2008 as I finished my first year of dancing.


The design for this quilt began with the outline of a dancer "flying" across a stage. I photographed my own face, hands and feet to provide the details of the dancer, and created a fanciful red dress that swirls from the dancers body into the sky in loose ribbons of rainbow colors which become transparent as they flow over legs and arms. The dancer, the background, and the birds were drawn separately with pencil on paper. These were layered on the computer and the lines adjusted so that each layer relates to the next, and merges visually. The white bird was enlarged to the same scale as the dancer, and the angle of the neck and head altered to follow the contours of the dancer's body. The background is a luminous merging of abstract sky and earth, with just a hint of water between. The hair of the dancer flows behind her and merges into the sky in the upper left corner of the quilt. The long curving templates were cut from fabrics that I hand dyed and painted as well as many different fabrics from the "Gradations" collection which I designed for Benartex. The back of the quilt and part of the binding are made from fabrics in my "Glacier Park: Splash" collection for Benartex.

This is the most heavily quilted piece I have made to date (August 2008). First the entire surface was closely stitched in colors to match the dancer and the background. The outline of the white bird was then projected onto the quilted surface, marked, and stitched with heavy (#30) white topstitching thread. The remaining details of the bird were stitched with #40 white topstitching thread. The eagle was quilted with black and medium gray thread. The background and details of the dancer can be clearly seen through both birds, making them seem dreamlike and transparent.

Here is even more information about the story of this quilt and how it was made:
In 2007, everything in my life was new again. I had left my life-long home in Chicago, moved to Paducah Kentucky, built a new home/studio/workshop center, and made new friends. I had lost my husband two weeks before the year began, and in June, I turned 60.

Bob Fallert: 1939-2006

Bryerpatch Studio

Friends at ETC coffee house
I invited everyone in my new neighborhood to a 60's party, and they came. We dressed up in 60's clothing like the old hippies most of us were, and we played 60's music, and everyone danced except me, because had I never learned to dance.
Actually, I always wanted to dance but never had the opportunity to learn. I had even made a series of quilts about dance.
To me dance seemed almost like flying, which has certainly been a recurring theme in my work for as long as I have been quilting.
At the end of June I began drawing a new design which merged a bird with a dancer. I gathered lots of pictures of dancers and picked the one that looked the most like flying. I started with a simple outline, which evolved as I changed the style of the dress and the hair. I tried various arrangements of lines in the background, and scanned the one I liked the best. then played with color on my computer.
Next, I gathered lots of pictures of herons and cranes. I drew the body of one bird and the head of another and fit the composite bird on top of the dancer. I gathered pictures of eagles to represent the past, and added the silhouette of an eagle to my drawing. I printed a transparency of just the dancer and background, projected it onto the back (paper-side) of freezer paper, and drew in the major design lines.
Bird head & feet studies
Bird drawing
Eagle drawing
Face & feet drawings
Once the drawing was enlarged, I was having trouble getting the details of the feet, so I erased them, set up a tripod and took a bunch of pictures of my own feet. I drew them on paper, made a transparency, and added them to the big drawing. The face was also very sketchy and cartoon like so I took a picture of my own face, drew it on paper, made a transparency, and added that to the big drawing. Color study done in Corel Draw

I put the big drawing on the floor and squared it up, then spent a couple of days refining the sketchy lines I had drawn while the big picture was on the wall. I got out my pencil, eraser, and flexible curve, and cleaned up all of the lines so they were beautiful and graceful. I added registration marks across all of the seam lines and went over the lines with marker so I could see them from the right side of the drawing which is the shiny side of the freezer paper. I hung the drawing on the wall and began piecing.

About half of the fabrics in this quilt are from my Gradations collection from Benartex, and the other half are my one of a kind hand painted fabrics.

When the piecing was finished, I added the batting and backing and began quilting on the face, since that would be the focal point of the quilt and would also be the most heavily quilted. I continued with the dress and the background until the whole surface was very heavily quilted. I put a picture of the real quilt top on my computer screen, added the drawing of the white bird, and made adjustments, so the shape of the bird and the dancer would work together. I made a transparency of the bird, projected it onto the quilt, and drew the outlines in white charcoal pencil. This was the scariest part, since I had never before added a second layer of quilting to a fully quilted top. I quilted the long curves with the feed dogs up since it is difficult to get long graceful curves with free-motion quilting. For the outlines, I used Superior Brytes, which are a 30 weight polyester top stitching thread that really shows up, even from a distance. After the outlines were done I switched to 40 weight thread and a free-motion foot to finish the details in the feathers. After the white bird was finished, I made a transparency of the eagle, drew it on the quilt, and stitched it in black and grey thread. Naturally with this much stitching, the quilt was pretty waffely when I finished, so I pinned it face down on my rug and blocked it flat with a steam iron. I laid the quilt on my giant cutting boards and used long flat aluminum bars from the hardware store and my rotary cutter to square it up.

I only worked on the quilting it when I was feeling as free as the dancer, and it took almost 15 months to complete.

In the meantime I made a couple more small quilts and signed up for ballroom dancing lessons. At the very first lesson I announced to the instructor that I was only doing this for fun and I didn't even care if I was great at it. I was going to quell my competitive nature and just have a good time. I think all he heard were the words "competitive nature" because after just a few months he asked me to do a routine with him at a local charity function called dancing with OUR stars. It doesn't take much to be a star in Paducah, and all the money goes to cancer research, so I said yes. So much for quelling my competitive nature. I'm not great at it ……… yet ………but I'm having a really good time. I'm always happy when I'm dancing, and my new life in Paducah has exceeded all of my expectations.


  • Quilts a World of Beauty: International Quilt Association Juried Show, Quilt Festival 2009, Houston TX (Best of Show)
  • American Quilters Society Show, (juried) 2010, Paducah KY. (Honorable Mention)
  • Common Threads: Contemporary Textile Art from the Commonwealth, June 4 – July 29, 2011, Claypool-Young Art Gallery, Morehead State University, Morehead KY
  • 2011 International Juried & Judged Quilt Festival, September 30-October 2, 2011, La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, 703 Second Street, La Conner, WA, 360-466-4288 • www.laconnerquilts.com
    (First Place & Best of Show)
  • Everything In Between: Art Quilts, Fabric Collage, and Embroidery, Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, UT, 2012
  • Quilt (R)Evolution: Art Quilt Retrospective 1979 – 2014 (Quilt National Jurors' Retrospective) Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athens, OH September 19 – November 23, 2014
  • Color in Motion, Retrospective Solo Exhibition, Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts, Cedarburg, WI, January 14- April 12, 2015
  • Caryl Bryer Fallert: A Retrospective, New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA, August 20 - October 31, 2015
  • Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry: 40 Years of Color, Light, & Motion, University Museum, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, January 26 - April 16, 2016
  • Fantasias in Fiber & Beads: (two person show) Northwind Arts Center, Port Townsend, WA, May 5-29, 2016
  • Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry: 40 Years of Color, Light, & Motion


  • "Stitched" the film 2011 Picturesmith Productions, Jena Moreno
  • Paducah Convention and Visitors Bureau 2009 national advertising campaign, appearing in dozens of magazines and newspapers all over North America. (ie: Art in America, June/July, 2009, p. 105)
  • International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene: Special Commemorative Issue, Winter 2009/2010: pp. 6, 18,19
  • Houston Chronicle, Thursday, October 15, 2009, p. 1B
  • Paducah Sun: Thursday October 15, 2009, p. 2A
  • American Quilter Magazine: January 2010 p. 82
  • Arte Patchwork, (Spain) December 2009, Cover
  • Quilters Newsletter Magazine, Feb/March, 2010, pp. 10-11
  • Fiberarts, January/February 2010, p. 10
  • 4 Her, Kentucky Publishing Inc. Spring 2010, pp. 16-17
  • Skywest Magazine, September/October 2010 pp. 21 & 24
  • Quilts Japan, January, 2010, p. 129 & 140
  • Award Winning Quilts: 2011 Calendar, That Patchwork Place, p. 2 & July
  • Skagit Valley Herald, Thursday September 29, 2011, E5 Cover
  • Quilt Almanac 2012, Last Stitch feature, p. 130
  • Quilt (R)Evolution: An Art Quilt Retrospective, 2014, The Dairy Barn Arts Center, p. 53
  • Machine Quilting Unlimited, May/June, 2012, p. 44
  • Fayette County Record, La Grange, TX, Volume 95, #42, Tues. March 28, 2017, Page 1, above the fold.
  • Art Quilting Studio, Summer 2021, pp. 48-49, Feature

Web Site Design by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry 1997-2022 All Rights Reserved
Bryerpatch Studio • 10 Baycliff Place • Port Townsend, WA • 98368 • USA
360-385-2568 • caryl@bryerpatch.com

Updated 5/16/21