Flights of Fancy by Nina Burnsides

7th June 2019

Butterflies, with their vibrant colours and myriad designs lend themselves perfectly to embroidery. But let us share with you a few facts about these wonderful creatures. As well as there being around 17,500 species of butterfly in the world today, butterflies can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Their delicate wings are made up of thousands of tiny, transparent scales, and, as they are cold blooded creatures, require sun and warmth in order to fly.

This is why you’ll often see butterflies with their wings out, soaking up the sun like mini solar panels, heating themselves up enough to flutter away.

But like a warm breeze or the summer sun, butterflies only live for a very short time. Some of the smallest only live for a matter of days. And adding to this ethereal quality is the fact that even the largest butterfly only weighs approximately 12 grams, while the smallest barely registers on any scale.

The needlework designer Nina Burnsides has understood how light, delicate and transitory the butterfly is. Her striking pieces in Inspirations issue #102 both capture a moment in time when a butterfly alights, rests momentarily, and then flies off without anyone even registering its presence.

In Transcendent Touch, the butterfly lands on the wrist of a child as it holds on to the hand of its parent, so fast that the child doesn’t even have time to unclasp its hand for a better look.

Flights of Fancy | Transcendent Touch

In Soft Landing the butterfly rests momentarily in a woman’s hair, perhaps exploring whether the shimmering pearl may contain nectar, before disappearing again. The woman, her back turned, doesn’t even know.

Flights of Fancy | Soft Landing

By contrasting the simple, black line drawings with the vibrant colour of the butterfly wings, Nina has highlighted the beauty of the natural world.

Working the drawings in stem stitch using two strands of black thread, a perfect backdrop is created. Once you’ve eased yourself into the project, you can then tackle the butterfly itself, working the wing slips separately and then arranging the creature as you wish, imagining where it would have landed if it had of been real.

Flights of Fancy is the perfect project to appear at the end of Inspirations Issue #102 as it gently but unobtrusively introduces the human hand and head into the world of nature which has filled the rest of the magazine. But it is done with the lightest of touches, something we all need to take to heart.

We co-exist with nature, but we should not dominate nor destroy it. As custodians of the natural world for future generations, our visibility should be no greater than the line drawings acting as support and backdrop, and our impact should be lighter than a resting butterfly.

The Safe Way to Pin a Butterfly

‘Soft Landing’ is the latest release in the Inspirations Enamel Pin Collector Series. This stunning swallowtail butterfly pin is inspired by the design ‘Flights of Fancy’ from issue #102. As always, these enamel pins are available in limited quantities, so order yours today.


Soft Landing Enamel Pin

Make Your Own Flights of Fancy

Step 1 – Purchase project instructions

Flights of Fancy by Nina Burnsides is two exquisite designs of stumpwork butterflies delicately resting on head and hands in contrasting line embroidery.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 102

Digital Patterns

Flights of Fancy

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kits for Flights of Fancy include everything you need to re-create these beautiful studies: Fabrics (unprinted), interfacing, wool felt, wires, beads, embroidery threads and needle.


Flights of Fancy: Soft Landing – i102 Kit


Flights of Fancy: Transcendent Touch – i102 Kit

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Nina Burnsides

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