Aurifil 2017 August Designer of the Month Brenda Ratliff

2017 Aurifil DOM August Brenda Ratliff collage.jpg

I’m Designer, Author, Talk Show host Pat Sloan.

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This year we are celebrating the rainbow of colors in our color wheel. Each designer is assigned a color to create their block in.

This month we land on Yellow-Orange and I’m thrilled that Shop owner and designer Brenda Ratliff from Pink Castle Fabrics took on the job!

Brenda and I chatted on my talk show 11/21/16, take a listen

Aurifil 2017 Designers of the month fabrics august.JPG

We are thrilled to have several fabulous shop owners on the team this year. I’ve had the chance to work on several projects with Brenda and she has amazing ideas and is pretty fun to be around!  Someday I hope to visit her shop, but until then you can find Aurifil thread, amazing clubs and even her retreat ‘Glamp Stitchalot’ online! 

Missed a month?

CLICK FOR PRIOR DESIGNER interviews

Remember we have a Challenge portion of our Designer of the Month interview.

Each month we select one random winner to receive a 12 spool BOX of Aurifil threadfor just making the challenge block and sharing it at my website! (details at the end plus last month’s winner!)

Let’s get to know Brenda!

My Sunset Strips quilt pattern with One Room Schoolhouse.JPG

  • Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there? 

We live in Ann Arbor, MI. Aside from the snow (I could do without winter…) it’s a lovely city. My favorite place in town is our small Main Street downtown. There are SO many good places to eat! And really, I judge a town by it’s food. In the nice weather everyone is sitting outside eating and talking and and the atmosphere is so relaxed.

Q2 - My parents quilt that I love!.jpg

  • When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting? 

Growing up my parents had a lovely quilt on their bed. It was made by our church’s quilting bee. It was scrappy and brown and plaid and I still love it today. It’s in their living room on the couch. I really didn’t think much about quilting or making quilts until after my son was born. I was a stay at home mom and needed a hobby. I had bought myself a sewing machine to make clothing (sadly, I haven’t mastered those yet) and pulled it out from collecting dust.

An improv mini quilt I made.JPG

I was really inspired by the modern quilting movement that was just beginning. I started a Modern Quilt Guild in Ann Arbor and now have some amazing friends that I met through sewing. About that same time I decided to start Pink Castle Fabrics, my own fabric shop. We started out just online but now we have a nice walk in shop in town as well. Who knew quilting was so addicting?

My Bento Box quilt.jpg

  • Did you have a career prior this, what was it?

Even before owning my own business I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Just before starting my business I was in a business incubator in Detroit working on a different business plan that didn’t work out. I worked at a bank in college and I was a mortgage banker a few years before I started Pink Castle. I studied computer programming, sociology, anthropology, and marketing in college. I really loved school and stayed a little longer than most people taking more classes.

Me, being ridiculous with my linen stash....jpgI like to learn about the history of quilting and vintage fabrics. I have a collection of vintage feedsacks that help inspire me. I’ve always like to make. I learned to cross stitch and knit at a young age. I still like to embroider and cross stitch but I don’t knit very often any more. Too many pretty fabrics to sew up!

My own fabric in my stash!.jpg

  • Have you had a ‘light bulb’ moment in making?

A few years ago I realized that it’s okay to focus on the parts of quilting and making that I like. I don’t have to love every single thing and that’s not the end of the world. I love choosing the fabrics and colors and I’m able to make bundles in my shop and now I design fabric for RJR, so I can focus on that part of quilting. I love creating the patterns and piecing the top of quilt s but I don’t love the quilting. I “let it go” and relaxed about sending my quilts to a long arm quilter.

My Messy Studio.jpg

  • What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?  

I just moved my studio into our basement. I miss having the nice light from outside that I had in the upstairs of my house (it used to be in our extra bedroom and now it’s a guest room again) but I have A LOT more space. I was running out of room with all my fabric. Having more light would really be the only thing I would add. But I’m happy to have my fabrics all displayed and easy to see. I get really inspired that way.

My scrappy trip along quilt that lives on my couch!.JPG

  • Do you have a GREAT tip on either storage, organization, sewing, stitching?

I take the time to put my scraps away as I’m sewing. If the piece of fabric that I’m working with is small I will cut it into 2.5” squares and put them in a box. Now I have a whole box of small squares all ready for a scrap quilt! I have all my scraps color sorted in clear plastic shoe boxes. I can pull out the boxes with the colors I’m working with for a project and it makes finding what I’m looking for REALLY easy.

Q7 - Aurifloss Rainbow.jpg

  • Favorite Aurifil colors?

I use 50 wt 2024 the MOST! I buy this color several spools at a time and I use it for all my quilt piecing. It’s so hard to choose other colors that are my favorite. I’ve been collecting more colors of the Aurifloss now for my cross stitch and embroidery.

My new Fine Print Collection (2).JPG

  • Anything else you’d like to share? 

My newest fabric line with RJR fabrics, Fine Print is shipping to shops right now. I’m really excited about this line. It’s only 10 prints (5 black and white and 5 white on white) but it’s perfect for quilt backgrounds. They are all text prints and it was really fun to write out all the text for them too.

My first two collections together - One Room Schoolhouse and Pie Making Day.JPG

  • What is it about your color that inspired you, made you explore yellow/orange?

Yellow orange is an underused color! I think it brightens a quilt and makes it look sunny. And it goes well with blues and green which I have a whole lot of!

Yellow-orange-Aurifil.jpg

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DOWNLOAD Brenda’s Bright_Sun

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My family and I at Disney World!

  • What do you do when you aren’t sewing?

I try to keep myself busy! I like to hand stitch (embroidery or cross stitch) while I watch TV, I spend time with my son and family and I love to read mystery novels and other fun fiction. This year I have a goal to be more active and started taking karate lessons. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. We all go as a family twice a week and I earned my yellow belt at the beginning of the summer. It’s never too late to start something new!

Visit Brenda  at: 

Pat Sloan block 8 aurifil.JPG

I Did a group photo, this is the lightest block.. go take a look and tell me what you think, more light backgrounds?

ALSO ENTER YOUR BLOCK so you can be in the running to win a box of thread, last month’s winner is below

And  JOIN my fantastic online quilt group with the most incredible  quilt show each day… I’d love to meet you!

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******* JOIN our Aurifil Family  *******

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! Winners are all contacted email

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Our RANDOM picker this month selected is Charald! She has WON a BOX of Aurifil thread! Such gorgeous blocks entered .. see all the great versions HERE

6 thoughts on “Aurifil 2017 August Designer of the Month Brenda Ratliff

  1. Agreed Brenda, orange and yellow is under used. My fave color , orange, as you said pairs beautifully w/blue .
    Thank you for the Bright Sun pattern and I’ll be looking for Fine Print locally. You know I’ll have to toss in some orange with those blacks and whites:)

  2. Pingback: Aurifil DOM: August – Happy Hour Stitches

  3. Brenda is a very busy person and very organized. I like the idea that she cuts her scraps into 2.5 inches and sorts them. I think I need to do that all of mine in one container. I like her thoughts on the orange and yellow and using them with blue. She says that the orange is under used.

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