Brenda has been sewing since she was a young girl. Inspired by the beautiful patchwork quilts made by her grandmother. The quilts were kept on a high shelf and only used on very special occasions but they intrigued Brenda and she became hooked! Brenda spent 22 years working in the architecture, design and teaching fields, before she decided to follow her own design dreams and started Acorn Quilt & Gift Company. She initially focused on quilts, but over the years she has added designs reflecting her love of embroidery and counted cross-stitch under the name “Brenda Riddle Designs”. Brenda lives in Arizona, where she loves to spend much of her free time designing quilts and needlework, and designing fabrics for Moda. Brenda is the designer behind the lovely Bramble Cottage fabric we have in Eclectic Maker currently
Who/what inspired you to take up sewing and how old were you?
My Grandma & Mom. My Grandma was a seamstress & when I was about 11 years old my Mom encouraged me when I showed an interest. She showed me how to use her sewing machine & took me to a fabric shop – my first time. (I was amazed & delighted there was a shop with so many fabrics!)
Who can you remember doing your first sewing with?
Even before learning to sew (on a machine) I remember a girl from our church who came to our home to babysit while my parents went to a meeting, & she had some embroidery she was working on & I was smitten by it. She showed me some stitches, & left a needle, & some floss… & I was on my way!
What is the first thing you made?
It was a simple skirt & matching vest (which was reversible – which I was quite proud of! (I was 11 years old.)
What is your favourite type of stitch?
For the machine – the one’s I really ever use is the straight stitch & a tiny buttonhole stitch for appliqué. For hand stitching… I love using a backstitch for embroidery, & lately – my overall favorite stitch is a cross-stitch
What type of sewing projects do you prefer
I love the handwork projects – but reality (& deadlines) make me very fond of how fast machine piecing is.
What is your inspiration for your designs
I love classic vintage quilts & blocks & love to re-create that feeling in my own designs.
What do you consider your best piece of work?
I have two that I always like to have hanging somewhere in my home (they make me very happy) & those would be Hope Blooms, & By My Hand
What is your very favourite thing that you have made.
It was a quilt for my parents 50th wedding anniversary. It still hangs over an armoire door in my Dad’s bedroom.
What is your favourite tool or gadget?
One of my favorites are the ‘ThimblePads’. I use them for handwork (especially when binding) & they save my finger & allow me to keep at it for so much longer.
Do you have a favourite colour to work in
I have always loved a light background & so I would pick a soft white. I keep bolts of Moda’s Bella Solid 200 – Off White in my studio. From my very first collection with Moda – it was decided that I would always have that colorway in my collections. (It’s the base for my ‘linen white’ colorway.)
What type of fabric would you choose to work with?
I love cottons – of all weights – but I’m also loving (more & more) working with linens. I love their texture & the ability to use them in making things for home decor.
Do you prefer hand work or machine work?
I love hand stitching – but am so grateful for my sewing machine.
What’s your dream sewing machine
I purchased a Juki sewing machine a couple of years ago, & I must admit how much I love what a little powerhouse it is. When I have deadlines – I love how fast I can sew with it.
My advice to a newbie would be …………………..?
Don’t try to be too much of a perfectionist… you’ll drive yourself crazy & it can take all the fun out of sewing.
Drove you to tears? What is the piece of work that has driven you mad/been a disaster
When I first started sewing, I was rushing to finish a dress & I sewed a sleeve on upside down…! I was so frustrated (there had already been a lot of seam ripping… & my Mom taught me to step back & walk away from it for a little bit.
Do you make things for other people?
I love making things for others. Especially quilts.
Who (famous person alive or historical) would you love to create something for
That would be my Grandma. She never knew that I would quilt & while she made many quilts – she would love to receive one & would appreciate it so.
What’s your best sewing background music?
Right now it’s Chris Tomlin & also Lauren Daigle.
Are you an early riser or a night bird – when is the best time for you to sew?
Definitely an early riser…. & I love to sew anytime!
What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy?
I have taken up cross-stitch again & am loving it. I’m also getting the chance to work more in the garden & find that I’m enjoying it so much!
Who in the sewing or crafting world do you most admire?
For me, as a designer, I so admire the shop owners that make what I do possible. They are the unsung heros that bring all the tools, fabrics, teaching & support to all their customers & keep this amazing industry going!