At a glance: Folk Fibers is a line of handmade quilts, crafted from fabrics hand-dyed with all-natural dyestuff. Every piece is a stunning example of traditional craft combined with modern sensibilities.
Who’s behind the brand? After working a wide range of jobs ranging from the Free People corporate offices to organic farms, Maura Grace Ambrose took an extended road trip with her husband in their 1970s VW camper, making a quilt sampler on her lap in the passenger seat as they traveled. It was then that she realized that that was what made her happiest - countryside, loved ones, simple living, and quilting. The Savannah College of Art and Design graduate returned home and launched Folk Fibers in 2011 and has been enjoying a great deal of success ever since. Check out Maura’s Instagram account for an amazing peak not only into her processes but into the beautiful simple country life she and her husband have built together. It’s enough to make even the most die-hard city folk want to leave it all behind.
What do they do? Maura’s process often starts with planting a seed, quite literally. Most of the dyestuff she uses to hand-dye her natural fabrics is grown on the 10 acres of land surrounding her home. She harvests the plants, ferments the dyes, dyes the fabrics, (pausing possibly to do some watercolor sketches of future quilt patterns), then cuts and pieces together her quilt tops, and hand-quilts every one of them. She also does stunning indigo wholecloth quilts in addition to her piecework. Each quilt is a true labor of love, taking anywhere from 40 to 200 hours to complete, even with the help of local artisans who she trains and hires to help with the sewing and finishing. Each quilt comes in a custom handmade cedar box from KKDW with a hand-written note detailing the history and process of that particular piece. She also has done a handful of pieces using shibori hand-dying techniques.
What materials do they use? The quilt fabrics are all natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk, and wool, along with repurposed denim and vintage feed sacks The dyes are also all natural and are grown, cultivated or foraged in or around her home. Some of the natural dyes she works with regularly include indigo, red onion skins, goldenrod, marigold, pomegranate, cota, madder root, walnut hulls, pecans, cochineal, and osage orange (the heartwood of a tree). These dyes are wonderful not only in concept and beauty, but also because they are substantive dyes and don’t require mordant or chemicals to be colorfast. The hand-quilting is all done with japanese Sashiko thread.
Where are they based? Maura Grace works out of her home, on 10 acres of land just outside of Austin, in Bastrop, Texas. If you are lucky enough to live nearby you should take advantage of the occasional dying and quilting workshops she teaches in the area.
Any interesting collaborations we should know about? Folk Fibers teamed up with Levi’s to create a small collection of quilts incorporating recycled jeans and Dockers that were sold at select Levi’s stores, and also a small run of denim shirts with quilted pieces appliquéd on the back. The Levi's Made Here team created a beautiful video on Maura and her process which is definitely worth watching. There’s also a Levi’ x Hypebeast project called Denim Canvas that pairs different artists up to create one of a kind art on denim, and Maura teamed up with San Francisco artist Aaron de la Cruz to create an embroidered shirt - you can see the entire process here.
Editors’ favorites from the line? It’s always hard for us to choose favorites, but in this case it’s especially hard since most of the Folk Fibers pieces get sold so quickly, so we’re culling through some back-stock to fantasize about what we’d love to have. The quilts are not cheap, but they’re a real investment, the kind of piece you could see handing down to future generations, and we love being able to appreciate all that design and craftsmanship on a large scale. We are crazy about the subtle shades of blue in the recycled denim pieces like the Denim Strip Quilt and the Denim Bar Quilt, but we also love the Leaning Cabin and the Zen Quilt. Oh, and those indigo whole cloth quilts are gorgeous too.
Where can I get the goods? Since every piece is handmade in an old-school painstaking process, inventory is not usually that high and most pieces sell out incredibly fast. At the time of this article there is very little available on her website, so run, don’t walk, to her online store, and if you see something you love, don’t hesitate. There’s also the possibility of getting on her waiting list in order to ensure there’s a Folk Fibers quilt in your future.