Mollie Makes meets: Maura Grace Ambrose

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We talk to this American hand quilter about patchwork, using natural fabric dyes and her ethical quilt business, Folk Fibers

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Maura Grace Ambrose is a hand-quilter who is all about taking patchworking back to its roots. Her business Folk Fibers specialises in hand-stitched quilts made using 100% natural ingredients.

Known for strikingly clean, uncomplicated, organic beauty, these quilts evoke a time when quilts were made out of necessity, using materials on hand. The spontaneity and abstract qualities of Folk Fibers’ quilts echo 19th and 20th century American quilts such as those produced from the historic Gee’s Bend, Alabama quilters.

The creator of these striking patchwork and whole-cloth quilts is Maura Grace Ambrose. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Maura studied textile design and fibre arts at Savannah College of Art and Design. After graduating, she worked in preschools, did a good bit of organic farming, and travelled throughout the US with her husband in their 1970s red VW camper.

With so much inspiration from these travels, Maura stitches like a demon to produce quilts almost as quickly as she has ideas for them.

Maura uses 100% natural materials – “they feel better, and live longer.” Not only are her materials natural, but she also grows and harvests natural dyes from plants (such as indigo) and vegetables (such as onions – specifically onion skins).

“Because they come from the earth, natural dyes tend to have a harmony with each other,” Maura says. What’s more, they’re substantive dyes and so they don’t require a mordant or chemicals to be colourfast.

Using Japanese Sashiko hand-stitching techniques adds a striking quality to the harmonious background.

“I’m aware it may take a lifetime of practice to perfect the craft of dying and quilt making,” says Maura, and she’s certainly well practised, having recently covered all 50 states in her ’50 American States’ series.

Next up is a Lone Star quilt, which will incorporate an eagle into the star pattern. “The patchwork is intricate and proving to be rather a challenge,” she says. But it’s one we’re sure she’s up for.

Read more about Maura and her quilting adventures: 

Make a denim quilt: follow Maura’s step-by-step guide in issue 29 of Mollie Makes, out now!

Interview Leigh Metcalf