Inspiration Board | Maura Grace Ambrose

Folk Fibers

Since she was child, Maura Ambrose, owner of Folk Fibers, has embraced a passion for vintage objects and fabrics. When she traveled from her home in Carey, North Carolina, to her grandparents’ in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Ambrose spent countless hours in her grandmother’s attic, discovering lost treasures and antique fabrics. “I’ve always been drawn to items of history,” explains Ambrose, “but it all started in my grandmother’s attic.”

As Ambrose grew older, she took her interest to the professional level by studying in the Textile Design & Arts Fiber program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. After graduation, she worked a number of different jobs—from the corporate offices of Urban Outfitters to a small organic farm. In 2011, Ambrose started to prepare her own natural dyes and stitch quilts full time. (We featured her in the Makers’ Issue of TRIBEZA in 2012.) Since then, her homegrown business has flourished—and Folk Fibers has gone beyond the local and garnered national attention: she was nominated as a Tastemaker Honoree by Martha Stewart and has over 52,000 followers on Instagram. Nowadays for Ambrose, organic inspiration still comes in the form of vintage objects but also in the handmade tools that she uses to create her dyes and quilts. “I get a sense of connection with my materials when I’m working with my hands.”

  • Quilt box: “My handmade cedar boxes are built by Austin local Kelly Dewitt. My husband, Chap, laser-etches the logo, which is designed by Ryan Rhodes and Renee Fernandez, who also live in Austin.”
  • Bunny: “One of two rabbits that have joined us on our move from Philadelphia to Austin.”
  • Indigo-dyed woven cloth: “This fabric was a collaboration with my friends Leslie and Jay from Tangleblue [a textile consulting business in San Francisco], using linen I dyed in the indigo vat.”
  • Feathers: “Hawk and turkey feathers collected on a four-month road trip that my husband and I took a couple years ago in our VW camper van.”
  • Mortar: “I use this tool to grind indigo.”
  • Awl and spindle: “I found these handmade tools at the Golden Nugget in New Jersey.”
  • America’s Quilts and Coverlets: “An antique book that I bought in Maine.”
  • Blue thread: “Cotton bamboo yarn that I dyed with indigo.”
  • Clothespins: “Old-fashioned clothespins are beautiful and useful objects.”
  • Kentucky quilt: “A quilt I made using naturally dyed and vintage fabrics, available for sale in my online shop.”
  • Chinese printing block: “A hand-carved woodblock I found in San Antonio, a source of inspiration for sashiko stitching patterns.”
  • Star: “Vintage fabric remnant to be used for a quilt.”
  • Slippers: “Hand-stitched, rabbit-themed children’s shoes.”
  • Postcard: “Amish horse and buggy postcard from a friend living in Pennsylvania.”
  • Indigo cake: “Natural indigo cake ready to be ground up and used for dye.”
  • Madder: “Chopped-up roots ready to be soaked and used for dye.”
  • Cactus postcard: “Flora and fauna found in West Texas.”
  • Sashiko sample: “Muslin fabric with red sashiko stitches showing samples of patterns to aid in teaching stitching workshops.”
  • Wooden rabbit: “Hand-carved by my late grandfather-in-law, Harvey.”
  • Turtle shell: “I found this walking in a pecan grove in Austin with my old farm boss Brent Johnson.”
  • Travel clothesline: “A vintage keepsake that includes tiny clothespins, cotton cord, and two glass-head pushpins.”


Photography by Bill Sallans

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