Brenda Riddle and Ambleside

Brenda Riddle

Brenda Riddle’s Ambleside fabrics evoke a lush country garden. Surprisingly, she creates her verdant designs near Tucson, Arizona, in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. But her early, mobile years provided her with plenty of exposure to more leafy landscapes.

Seedlings quilt - in process
Brenda’s Seedlings quilt, in process

Brenda (or Bren, as she’s known to friends) grew up in San Diego, where her mom taught her to sew. “I made most of my own clothes back then and loved it,” she says. She spent her college years in Minnesota and the San Francisco Bay Area, studying architecture, interior design, and art. After working in those fields and spending a year with a hunger-relief organization in southeast Asia, she moved to Arizona to get a teaching certificate. “I thought I’d be here for two-and-a-half years, but that was 23 years ago,” she says. She taught art and design at a private school for 15 years, and six years ago left teaching to focus on her design career.

Ambleside Pre-cuts

“From the get-go, I’ve always loved interiors, even in high school and before,” she says. “I’d make a new bedspread, a pillow, and change my furniture all the time.” She describes her style as cottage farmhouse, balanced with a rustic look. “My house has a light, airy feel with softer colors, but I also like crispness,” she says. “That’s what I love in quilts, too.” She believes this affinity comes from the quilts her grandmothers made and that surrounded her when she was little. “I’d see them stacked on the linen closet shelves, scrappy quilts with light-colored backgrounds. When I see that in a quilt, I’m immediately drawn to it.”

Star of Wonder blocks
Star of Wonder blocks

Around 2004, Bren’s love of fabric led her to ponder opening a quilt shop. She visited Quilt Market and noticed people walking around with bags stitched from Seaside Rose. “I didn’t know anything about fabric companies at that point, but I knew I had to find out who’d made that,” she says. She visited Moda’s booth and became an ardent fan. The quilt shop never materialized, but over the years, even as she designed fabric for other companies, she describes Moda as “a magnet.”

One of Brenda's counted cross-stitch patterns
One of Brenda’s counted cross-stitch patterns

“They work so well as a team, they work really hard, and it shows,” she says. “They ran with my designs and I’ve been on cloud nine ever since.” She recently got her sample yardage of Ambleside, and was delighted. “When you see the precuts and how they’ve arranged the colors, it’s exactly how I wanted it to be. One of the honest-to-goodness blessings is their attention to detail and presentation. As a designer, you couldn’t ask for more.”

Brenda's buddy, Bailey
Brenda’s buddy, Bailey

Brenda’s currently working away on her Quilt Market samples in her home studio. She lives with her “buddies,” her father and her little dog, Bailey (for more about both, visit Bren’s Little Acorns blog). Along with fabric, she also designs quilts and needlework, and she’s started Quilted Comfort, an organization that provides quilts for seniors who live at the care centers her brother manages, and who have no visitors.

Bren's studio
Bren’s studio

Bren is grateful to have quilts in her life. “Quilting is obviously a creative outlet for me,” she says, “but it’s also a connection to the women in my family who came before and I hope, those who come after—one of my nieces recently requested a special quilt. Quilts have a utilitarian purpose, but they also comfort people and bring them joy.”

Brenda's A-Cuppa quilt
Brenda’s A-Cuppa quilt


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23 thoughts on “Brenda Riddle and Ambleside

  1. Seeing Bren and Moda in the same sentence is so exciting. I have been following Moda and Bren Riddle ( Acorn Quilts) for years and years. I love her designs and color combinations and now add it’s a Moda is the icing on the cake.

  2. I also love this fabric.
    I am curious of where you found & made the cutting table in your studio? Where might have you
    purchased the saw horses. It would be perfect in my crafty room & I’m sure my husband would
    just love one more “honey do”
    Ellen T

    1. Hi Ellen, my cutting table pieces (bases & top) are from IKEA… & the last time looked, they still carried them. I love them they are adjustable & so versatile. (… & an easy ‘honey do’ for your hubby! xo, Bren

  3. A different Kathleen here, who would also like to find a pattern for the Star of Wonder block!

  4. I’ve never seen the “Star of Wonder” block before. Might you tell me where I can find it? Thanks

  5. I found the cutting table items on IKEA’s web site & I thank you but I also would love the pattern for the “Star of Wonder” block. I am branching out in my quilt making & would enjoy trying this
    beautiful pattern. Thanks Ellen Turner

    1. Did you every get information on the Star of Wonder block? I requested it also and never heard anything.

  6. To Betty Herron …found the pattern Acorn Quilt & Co. (AQ237) I found as a PDF.
    It took awhile but under designers in Moda site look for Riddle then under her Patterns you will find
    the Star of Wonder pattern
    Fabric is Ambleside line from Moda

      1. No! When I put it item # AQ237 at Acorn it didn’t recognize it and I never did find it on the Moda site.

  7. I emailed the designer for the Star of Wonder…is in production & won’t be available till early 2015….

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